Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Morning

Well, we had a good Immersion weekend this weekend. We dove into the philosophy pretty strongly this weekend and so that was rich. The thing that really boggles my mind about Immersions (and teaching yoga philosophy in them) is how immense the subject matter is and how rarely a group is satisfied with simple distinctions like "Classical Yoga says to separate yourself from the material world, Vedanta says it is all an Illusion and tantra says participate and celebrate". Well, maybe people would be satisfied if I was willing to say it that simply. But it just isn't that simple.

One thing that really strikes me the more I explore the history of yoga is that it is a moving stream. So we can look back and say "tantra said" but at the time it was one big experiment in a way just as I suppose it still is! My teachers have said there was always lots of exchange of ideas across schools of practice. And then add in the fact that tantra- as a synthesis as well as an evolution of what came before- shares so many threads in common with Classical Yoga, with Vedanta and so forth that you cannot exactly isolate it out to talk about it. And truly, deep thorough understanding of any one of the traditions we explore is a lifetime of work and way outside the scope of what we can really cover in an Immersion. So always, it is a kind of divine discontent. Probably for everybody.

Having said all of that, it was a great conversation and the weekend was full of insight and connection. One of the things that I love about Immersions is that they provide an external sort of framework in which to observe one's life and the changes and shifts that come along in the course of a year. Also- I believe an Immersion initiates a certain process of change that would not otherwise happen had the Immersion process not been engaged. I have seen it enough times to know that Immersions are a potent process and subtle and not-so-subtle shifts happen over the course of the program.

The other part of that is that these changes happen for me as a teacher. Every Immersion is a certain kind of pressure cooker, a certain kind of chamber for transformation. As a teacher, I am in that chamber with the group, not apart from it. I never fail to grow, change and shift as a result of teaching an Immersion. My personal intention for this Immersion when we started it was "softness" and as I reflect on the last year I find myself feeling much softer toward myself now than when we started. Obviously it is not an objective or measurable intention but it is still palpable. And it didn't just happen. It took a lot of work. I feel like the last two months really took me into the heart of that intention in some very cool ways. So my point is that as an Immersion teacher we certainly hold a space for others but meanwhile, we are cooking also. And I love that about my job.

The other thing that is happening- in and amidst the UPA's, the loops and the philosophy discourse is that we are each bearing witness to the changes one another are experiencing. Think about it- one weekend a month for 9 months or for 6 days straight three different times throughout a year- we are putting ourselves in a room with a bunch of people for at least 6 hours a day and learning together. That alone is a profound stage. As we are engaging our own process, we are doing it "in public", in plain sight of a community of people who are doing the same thing and who are committed to their growth and ours. It is an amazing thing that is happening in between the lines of the curriculum. So I love that also.

And this particular group of people who did the Immersion were really strong, committed students and practitioners. That deep, committed quality of sincerity really ran consistently throughout the group which made them a pleasure to be with.

All right, well, more could be said but now I have lost the thread of my thought and it is time to get to asana practice.

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