A new thing! I’m inviting Shivanauts to the Mad Castle for drinks, dinner and conversation. With no drinks or dinner. But the conversation is delicious.
We discuss relating to your practice, discovering your own learning style, embracing change, and the relationship between yoga and Shiva Nata:
You stand out to me among many of the Shivanauts on the internet for the innovative way you approach Shiva Nata. What are your favorite creative approaches to Shiva Nata? What makes a practice especially brain-bending for you? What makes it easier?
Every approach is a good one! I end up constantly changing things about my practice – even the rate of change. I try to work with my inclinations for each day.
Some weeks I’ll really want to drill into an established layer – follow the guides, flail until the patterns start to emerge, try to mentally muscle through it without guides – very methodical.
Sometimes that just sounds dreadful and boring (and possibly too challenging). When I’m not ready to keep moving forward systematically, that’s where I’ll dig for a creative, lateral approach – moving wide rather then deep.
Doing Shiva Nata really helped me figure out my learning style. When mirroring the DVD became very easy, very quickly – I realized that visual learning, it’s my thing. Also kinesthetics – the movements of Shiva Nata became embedded and automatic very quickly.
It’s interesting that I grew up thinking exactly the opposite of myself.
School and teachers focused on reading and math – so dedicated (people-pleaser?) little Beth did too. And succeeded, completely – so the little kindergartener who would ALWAYS chose jump-roping or finger-painting was buried for years under the first grader who thought wowing adults by reading chapter books and solving logic puzzles was the best.
I’m so grateful to Shiva Nata for uncovering the patterns that kept me thinking that the mental realm was the only one I could succeed in – and the only one WORTH succeeding in.
I feel more able and no longer ashamed of doing the things that bring me joy – yoga, drawing, biking, painting, blading – suddenly legit! And so much more joy in my life because of it.
(End sidenote, back to Shiva Nata practice)
I’ve come up with many variations in order to allow my brain to learn and think through the patterns abstractly, without relying on my body.
Finding the brain scramble
When your arms spin to the next movement of the pattern unconsciously, it’s hard to do anything other than ‘read’ where your arms are – it feels good, but the brain scramble isn’t there. So if I hop on the floor mat, it is my brain clearly directing my body. If I change out of the spiral patterns – throw in some mirror patterns or transquarters – I get back into the flow of my numbers-brain and body working together.
Also, given that I have considered books my best friends for most of my life – it’s funny to me that the word-substitution variations of Shiva Nata cause my brain to spark, stutter, and implode. So difficult (for me!). I love it.
I put together the Shiva Nata quilts to create a visual flow and parse the patterns a different way. I had lots of ah-ha moments of understanding the logic of the patterns making them! I’m so happy that they’re out in the world helping people now.
In general, I think working with or against your natural learning patterns determines the difficulty of your practice.
I’ve heard you say that yoga itself is a proxy for you – a stand-in for a deeper approach to life. How do you use yogic principles and yoga itself in your off-the-mat world?
Yoga is a place, space, and guidance to get in touch with yourself – but not your scary/whole-life changing SOUL and PASSION and THING – just your body.
We aren’t worried about smudging the crystal-good-china of our purpose or soul with the inquiry of yoga – you can understand your body as being as durable as your plastic college plates.
(Note: Your body is absolutely an endless depth and source of power and joy and beauty! And like a mother with a toddler – we live with our bodies every day, and the process of caring for their sometimes embarrassing needs turns down the awe.)
The magic of yoga
The magic of yoga is that through moving this supposedly mundane thing, this lump you might resent or ignore, you can start to feel the opportunities for joy waiting… in your body and everywhere.
Fine layers of armor that gently crumble away. There’s strength and assistance in the strangest areas. You learn how breathing and attention gently ease the stress, tightness, stuck.
You interact with your power – what if I strengthened just this one muscle more? What if I put forth effort from my core instead of my limbs? How does it feel to use strength to move gracefully? with more energy? And you interact with ease – how many muscles can I release without falling over? How can following prompts make things remarkably better?
Yoga as a microcosm
So yoga can be a little microcosm of the world, where you interact with just your body and your breath, the floor and the globe for support, the air for breathing. You can delve and go deep within the boundaries of your mat.
You can hold yourself in a wordless place of flow and feeling, or choose to work logically through a technical pose, or fire up willpower-words to get through a tough practice.
Totally a proxy. You can insert “just like life!” after almost every sentence here. Or don’t! The beauty of a proxy is that it works, even if you’re not deliberately and consciously making the connections.
You practice and teach both yoga and Shiva Nata. Could you talk a little bit about the relationship between Shiva Nata and yoga in your experience?
In yoga, you block yourself away from the complexity of life other then what is found within yourself and your body, to create a space to learn and explore you-as-you-are.
With Shiva Nata, you also block out the complexities of life – and you bring in exactly as much chaos and complexity as you chose. You invite it in to stir up and interact with your brain and ideas of the world. And you sit calmly in the center, observing, practicing trust, and allowing transformation.
For me, yoga is a bottom-up transformative process that works first from your body, gradually changing and stabilizing awareness.
And Shiva Nata is a top-down transformative process, that lights up your brain and energy with awareness, and the epiphanies shift and settle down through your body into deep knowing. My mental model here for the up-down direction is of the chakras – I’m not at all an expert in them, but this is how I feel it.
Yoga and Shiva Nata work well together to sustain gentle, needed change – Shiva Nata shows your mind the way forward, and yoga smooths the path for your body to understand and accept change with less fear and uncertainty.
And lastly, how does Shiva Nata affect your life outside of the practice?
Shiva Nata is helping me accept change as a positive thing. I am allowed to change my mind, form new opinions, find new ways that things can work for me. And the specter of future revision does not need to affect what I do today.
I can speak my truth, here and now, without being worried that tomorrow I’ll think differently. I can even look forward to thinking differently – because I’ll likely be even closer to the real me.
(The monsters spurred this one by their clamoring “don’t put things down on the internet! you might change your mind! and people will know you are a f(l)ake!” This is their solution/appeasement.)
Shiva Nata and flow
Life just flows better with Shiva Nata. I think the most important quality it brings to life in general is the tangible, experiential, deep knowing that things can change. The stuck you are feeling today will churn over into new insights and feelings tomorrow.
An image of a swamp vs a stream constantly occurs to me – instead of being scattered, unfocused, and bogged (ha!) down, I can trust the ability to pull in the edges of my water, start moving, leave behind the entrapping mud and muck, and start sparkling and speaking as streams do. Huzzah! Hope.
She’s kind, insightful, and very knowledgeable. Head on over to Fan the Ember to check her out.
Same as always: sovereignty and love. What spoke to you here?
Echoes or sparkles for Beth’s sharings?