On the Bardon "Asana" of Step Two
>> I have noticed that the Merkur translation makes a point of saying that the knees must be touching, while the older translation(s) seem to only say they should be even. I have nothing but strain in my muscles when I keep my knees together. Does anybody have insight into Mr. Bardon's true intentions, knees together or apart? <<
The knees do *not* need to be touching. However, they do need to remain fairly close together (2-3") in order for your spine to remain erect. When your spine is straight and your knees are bent at 90 degrees, your knees will naturally be at the proper distance from each other for *your* body. This position must be relaxed, not one where you're straining to keep your knees touching. Bardon's statement about binding your feet is only if your knees keep spreading *far* apart. This usually occurs because your spine is no longer erect, so binding the ankles will help teach your body to keep an erect spine automatically by forcing the knees closer together. It may also help, in the beginning, to sit on a chair that's deep enough to support you to at least mid-thigh and has a very straight back. The thigh support will help keep your knees together, if they tend to spread, and the straight back can be used to train yourself to the sensation of an erect spine. When you can relax, fully supported by the chair bottom and back, then move forward a few inches and master the position without back and thigh support.
The differences between the Ruggeberg edition (A. Radspieler translation) and the Merkur edition are interesting. The Merkur translators/editors seem to have done a bit of rewriting! ;-) Here are both translations for comparison:
RUGGEBERG -- p.72:
"The next exercise will deal with the control of your body. It needs great skill to sit quietly and comfortably, and therefore it is necessary to learn how to do it. *Sit down on a chair, in such a way, that your spine remains straight. At the beginning, you are allowed to lean on the back of the chair. Hold the feet together so that they form a right angle with the knees. Sit relaxed, without any strain of the muscles, both your hands resting lightly on your thighs.* Set an alarm-clock to run off after five minutes. Now close your eyes and watch your whole body. At first, you will notice that the muscles are becoming restless in consequence of the nervous stimulus. Force yourself, as energetically as you can, to persevere and sit quietly. However easy this exercise seems to be, as a matter of fact, it is rather difficult for a beginner. **If the knees tend to separate constantly, you may tie the feet together with a towel or a string to begin with.** If you are able to sit, without jerking and any special effort, for five minutes, each new exercise has to be extended one minute longer. If you have managed to sit, at least, for half an hour quietly, comfortably and without any trouble, this exercise will be finished. When you have arrived at this point, you will state that there is no better position for the body to relax and to rest."
MERKUR -- p.92-93:
"The next exercise deals with the control of the body. It is an art to sit quietly and comfortably and it must be learned. *Sit on a chair in such a position that the spine remains completely straight. In the beginning the backrest of the chair may be used for support. While sitting on the chair the feet should be firmly on the ground and should touch, as should the knees; the legs should also form a right angle at the knees. Lightly rest your hands on your legs close to the knees, right hand on the right knee, left hand on the left knee. Then try to sit without any back support, free of everything, free of tension, without any strain on your muscles, but remembering to sit erect.* Set an alarm clock for five minutes and begin the exercise. Now close your eyes and, while in this position, pay close attention to what is occurring in your body. In the beginning you will notice how the muscles are disquieted or irritated by nervous impulses. Muster all your energy to overcome this feeling and force yourself to remain quietly in this position. As simple as this exercise appears to be, it is difficult for the beginner. **Should you experience any difficulties holding your knees and feet together, you can bind them together with a towel or cord.** Should you succeed in sitting in this position for five minutes without any effort and without interruption, extend the exercise time by one minute per exercise until you are able to remain in this position for at least thirty minutes -- provided you are totally comfortable, that there are no interruptions, and that you are completely at peace. Once you have achieved this, the exercise is complete. When you have reached this point in your exercises you will notice that no other position will afford you as much rest and recuperation as this one."
In comparison, the Merkur edition stresses the idea that the knees must touch, whereas the Ruggeberg edition stresses the need for relaxation. The difficulty with the Merkur version is that it is impossible to deeply relax the leg muscles if one is simultaneously *holding* the knees together -- this defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
21 Dec 2002
A German speaking friend replied:
I just looked that up in my edition of "Der Weg zum wahren Adepten" (Bauer, 1994):
"...Die Fuesse sind beisammenzuhalten und bilden mit den Knien einen rechten Winkel, die Knie zueinander. Sie sitzen frei, ohne Anstrengung der Muskeln, beide Haende ruhen leicht auf den Schenkeln."
If I try to translate this passage directly and recklessly for the flow of language it would be: "The feet are to be kept together and form with the knees a right angle, knees together (="die Knie zueinander"). You sit free, without effort of the muscles, both hands resting lightly on your thighs."
So the Ruggeberg-edition seems to be a bit closer to the original, but they also simply left out the here deciding "die Knie zueinander" (knees together). :-) But what exactly "knees together" means (*touching? or simply not too far apart?*) is once again left to the interpretation of individual.