Mmmm... Savasana ... That sweet, relaxing ending posture.
Lay back. Lay still. Let the body and mind rest.
Some say it is an "effortless" posture. Just lay there, breath; simple.
But for some, like me when I was introduced to this posture, there is a whole lotta effort that goes into being still! Trying to stop thoughts? To not move.... even when I have an itch? GOOD LUCK, SISTER!
In the beginning, thousands of itches would arise! They taunted me: "Scratch me! Scratch me! You know you have to!" And I did. I always did. At first, I would flat out scratch, automatic. My body refused to be still. Even when my mind would tell it not to.
"Dont move! Be with the itch! Feel the itch! Let the itch be, dammit!" My body ignored the crap out of my mind. *up went a hand or a foot or an elbow* It's like my body has a life of its own... of course it does!
I was so far from relaxing in this posture I never thought I would ever move forward from my unconscious scratching. At one point, I expressed concern to my teacher: "Do you think I have fleas? or mites? or some kind of skin-eating problem? Why all the itches during savasna?" But she assured me it was just my ego trying to mess with my "letting go". It made sense. It can be tough to completely let go, when for so long I have been holding steadfast to... to... to what? I am not quite sure.
Soon enough, I became diligent in forcing my body through it, breathing through the hundreds of itches. "Don't move. Just breath. Watch the itches fade. Shutthefuckup." It became the focus of my savasna, almost like a game, the Don't-Friggin-Move game. Something to focus on. The other millions of thoughts were able to stay below the surface while I thought my body into staying still. (Even though I was still holding some muscles tight, not knowing how to "melt on to the mat" like we were instructed. Melt? Wtf?)
Excitingly, when I started to become good at letting the itches go I noticed there were less of them, and they would go away on their own. This was a success! My ego LOVED it! How proud it felt at watching an itch fade! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO, I CAN FADE ITCHES, BITCHES!
But, then, less thought about not moving to scratch meant: MORE THOUGHTS. (Take THAT ego, work yourself out of this!)
So then I arrived at my next savasana challenge: focusing on the breath and letting the thoughts go.
(And I thought itching was tough!)
At first, I would follow thoughts for far too long. Just running with whatever popped into my mind. Could've been anything from that conversation I had with that person yesterday (or 10 years ago) about whatever, or that blog I have been working on, or the way I should redecorate that room, or the grocery list for on the way home, and jesus I have to clean that oven!
A thought would bite and I would work to haul that sucker in like I was pulling a 10 foot catfish. Absorbed by whatever came up. Until I would hear my teacher say "take a deep breath in", which would lead me to a (not-so) slight panic... "CRAP I didnt stop thinking! I didn't relax enough! I SUCK at this!"
Thankfully, I began studying meditation shortly after. One thing that came into my perception (I cannot remember the source of it) that helped me so much was: "you do not need to follow your thoughts".
That was some powerful shit.
I could just stop a thought right in the middle of it?! I didn't have to finish decorating that room... or remember to get bananas. I could simply let it pass and come back to the breath.
*deep breath in*
Gentle smile. I finally got it. (I didnt, nor have I, mastered it, but I understood it...finally.)
After a few years, I can finally let my body [mostly] "melt" on to my mat.
Though, there are still some slight adjustments of my neck that I seem to need to make throughout the posture (I blame my mother for leaving me on my back too much as a baby, I have a weirdly placed flat spot, which makes my head want to be in an awkward position, which makes my chin jolt upwards, and that makes me feel choked.) But for the most part, I have trained my body to melt, my "muscles hang loose off my bones" and my skin is but a "sheet over the body" (some very interesting imagery in yoga!).
The most freeing of all, though: I know I do not have to follow my thoughts. They are free to arise, I am free to smile at them, they are free to go, and I am free to keep breathing, relaxing, being.
This is when the magic begins to happen.
A thought may arise that doesn't seem to be much of anything important, I let it pass, I breathe, and then the next thought could be something so deeply woven into the fabric of my being that I am shaken, my eyes may even twitch, but I honour it, let it go, breathe. When I have let go of a thought like that, tears have quickly gathered between my lids to help release it from my body. Begone. You have been set free.
Other times, tears have dripped back into my ears with no previous thought to spark them. Something let go during my practise, during my savasana, that I wasnt even consciously aware of. So good. So remarkable. Big smile!
Treating savasana as an important posture was how I was finally able to embrace it... able to let it embrace me.
It is a delicious posture.