This year I asked the teacher trainees to write out why they wanted to teach yoga. I am always interested in that answer because it helps me to shape the lessons to fit the desires of the trainees. And, following my self-imposed rule of only asking students to do what I have either already done or am willing to do, the assignment helped me to place my reasons for teaching into a somewhat cohesive writing.
As with all of my sharings, I hope this will resonate with you in some way. I hope you will be able to recognize what I wrote about below because I feel it is an essential element to our collective serenity. So the first part is about ME, and then it's about you further down. I hope you won't get tired of reading the ME part and continue to the bottom where it is about YOU.
What I recognize about teaching is that when I am teaching, I get to meet what I suspect is my true self. When I am in front of a class or with a client I encounter that self which continuously surprises and delights me. The delight might arise because I have made sense, finally, of a teaching I received long ago, or I see a pose appear in my head which fits the needs of the class (or just one hungry student) or a difficult question has arisen and I was able to capture the essence of it to share. It feels magical to have an answer that soothes someone or helps them to make sense of an issue they struggle with, or an asana offered helped someone reclaim a part of their body or relieved someone's pain. Having these experiences keep me traveling on the road of faith and surrender. Seeing that I know something I didn't know I knew is magical, and I love believing in magic! If this limited mind and body can retrieve something from the space of wisdom, have that harvest confirmed as appropriate by the recipient, and then replicate the encounter, how can that not confirm my faith and give me the ground to surrender my small-self's needs and concerns? After awhile you get to know the difference between the "magical" response (the place of wisdom) and the "neurotic" response (the place of personal ego mind and story) . I can say it is because of these encounters over the years I now spend less time and energy convincing others that they should heed my neurotic responses, and generally I believe them much less myself. This, my friends, is a path towards serenity.
So yeah, all of that was about ME. More about me is that I am so unendingly grateful to everyone who has been one of the hungry seekers, one of the curious clients, one of the in-pain asana students who come looking for something, even if it is simply the desire to get the old body moving again. It is because of you who walk in the door that I have continuously been able to dip into the unending spring of wisdom that my teachers have pointed to. I am also very grateful that I can pay my mortgage and keep my kids fed and educated because of your business. It seems crazy amazing to have both in one package for the past 16 years. Actually it is pretty darn magical! Thank you, thank you and thank you again.
So that was about me, now about you. You too have had this experience, the one of being pushed into the well of wisdom, and you have witnessed someone going into the same well. You are sometimes the pusher! Don't you LOVE seeing people do what they do well? When you recognize that they have slipped into the well and brought you back something beautiful and intoxicating, something of truth, isn't it amazing? Whether it is an athlete, a musician, an author or poet, a cook. an artist, a singer, any kind of teacher, a fixer of small or large objects, a farmer.... I believe we all love to witness that, even if we are not the ones dropping in to the well we are participating just the same. Sometimes you go, sometimes I go. Sometimes we go together, and sometimes we have to wait around for someone else to go. But we are participating always, we are always near the source, and if we are then indeed paying attention, we see if we take one tiny step over this way or that we can fall right back in to the source.
Do you know this experience? Think about it and I bet you will see that yes, you do! I am not one to spend a lot of time on social media, but I want to hear your story! Please share your experience of this, either by posting it or by email. Share it for all to see, thank someone for pushing you in or retrieving something you needed. When we confirm it to ourselves it becomes more real, and then, well, anything can happen.
Happy New Year to you all. My wish is for all of us to move into 2019 seeing newly, and recognizing ourselves as the magical beings that we are.
There is a word in Sanskrit, amrit, that loosely translated means nectar, the sweetness of life. In sanskrit when you put an A in front of a word, it negates the meaning. Mrt is the root for the word myrtur, which means death, so amrit means not death. Non-death may seem to imply that you live forever, but if you ask the vampires, eternal life in this body turns out to not be so great after all. Really the sweet part of amrit is that you do not have a fear of death, and when there is that lack of fear, we can live very differently. Because we live in one of the few safe places in the world, many of us don't fear that we are not going to make it home at the end of the day because of random violence. However we do fear many things related to certain deaths, such as the death of our personality and ego, the death of our possessions and status, the death of our youth and cognitive facilities, etc. Because we fear these things, we are held back from living fully. We are tip-toeing around actions that may cause the death of one of those fears (pick your favorite).
There is a saying that goes if you want to live truly, you should learn to die daily. There is a lot to be said about that, but for now, as we get ready for the new year, let's focus on beginning the process of dying to death. How? Well, OF COURSE our yoga practice helps with that. Through the study of scriptures, by knowing our bodies and nervous system better, and knowing our minds at least a little bit more, we not only see where we are stuck in the fear-of-loss mode, but it actually changes. Sometimes we fear the insights, sometimes we fear the process, and sometimes the outcome- and so we might be unwilling to begin. But consider this- if you are already fearing death, which is after all is inevitable, and affecting how you are able to live, why not indulge in a fear of something that can have a different outcome? What might that look like? It is different for everyone, but one thing is you won't suffer the burden of really controlling behavior, and that will make everyone else around you happy too.
In the upcoming winter of 2019 we have many great classes and workshop that can help you to begin to see how the tethers of fear are robbing you of really living. Meditation with David, Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita with me, an amazing workshop with Rafa (stay tuned for the Shri Yantra workshop with Diego on the same day!). All of these studies help you develop insights which allow you to begin to untangle your fear of living .
I know that if I was really tasting all of life fully it would be as satisfying, no-probably much more so, than a great chocolate chip cookie (one of my favs.). And this is a pretty amazing recipe, so I hope you will try it. Let the sweetness of the treat inspire you to find sweetness in all your actions that are born from freedom. When you taste life that way, it is hard to go back. Click here to see what's coming up in 2019.