Savasana, for many, is the delightful chocolate mousse at the end of a substantial, nutritious meal of yoga. You lie on your back, listen to music or maybe even silence, and completely zone out in a state of delicious relaxation. Or, if you are like me, you contemplate some serious mortality.
Let’s do that one, shall we? Actually, that’s not so novel an idea. Another way to say savasana is corpse pose… so you are pretty much pretending you are dead. Every single yoga class. That’s even more morbid than my middle school sleepovers where we routinely played “light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
Ideally your thoughts float away and you enter a sort of meditative state, but sometimes my mind takes the opportunity to go have an out of body experience.
Sometimes I feel like my eyes aren’t closed at all, but rather my eye lids, the ceiling and the atmosphere have disappeared like the slight obstructions they are, leaving just me and the vastness of space. Nebulas, stars, comets, you name it… the incomprehensible abyss around us all the time, in every direction.
It’s like that moment in the first episode of new Doctor Who when the 9th doctor tells Rose, “the turn of the earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go….”
I’m the Doctor, I’m Rose, I’m the stardust that I’m made of…. But mostly I’m flabbergasted by the immensity of it all. Cue the sudden feeling of warp-drive stars flying past your little, insignificant self!
But what’s even more disturbing is when you have an in-body experience… which is, naturally, what you do all the time without realizing it. Sometimes laying in savasana I remember I have a body and a brain and that I am in that body and brain.
This shocking and somewhat disgusting revelation shouldn’t blow my mind… really, rather the reverse… but it does. It’s just like a moment later in Doctor Who when Clara realizes she’s in a Dalek body and has been for a long time. We’ve only seen her as she pictures herself, human, working and baking and chatting and carrying on. She’s absolutely horrified when she realizes she is a tiny alien in a metal case.
Just like I’m kind of absolutely horrified that these thoughts I’m having now are being generated by sparks in gray/pink tissue that shoot down through my arms into my fingers typing…. Which are themselves sustained by mysterious processes of circulation that I am utterly dependent on but also completely powerless to control….
Cue more sudden zooming, this time onto my horrified face!
But as bizarre as it is to be in these places, in the immensity of the macrocosm and the weirdly-organic microcosm, there is truth in both. There is more in heaven and on earth than our dreamed of in our philosophies, indeed, even from our limited perspectives.
Savasana is crucial for your body post-yoga-workout, and meditation is crucial for your mind. But it’s also crucial not to get too big for our silly little human britches. Let’s play at being corpses every now and then, not with dread of the end, but with a humble openness to the mysteries we can’t see in our everyday lives.