Sunday, May 23, 2010

Better Than Ever

So Kelly and I are in Portland, Oregon to visit his family a bit and to take some time to celebrate our 13-year anniversary. You know, it's such an interesting thing...I can, in all honesty say that our relationship is really better than ever. And yet, what made it better than ever was a good solid year of agony, a ton of therapy- each of us individually and also together and getting to the point where we thought we would go our own separate ways. So now, when I say it is better than ever that doesn't mean that things are all rainbows and light. (Although, let's be clear, things in my world are never, and have never been, all rainbows and light!) So better than ever means that we have more profound discussions now about more substantial things, that we have a deeper vision of where we are going together, that we have more and better sex (TMI? Probably. Oh well, just sayin') and also that we fight more now, we disagree more often, we spend more meaningful time away from each other now, we have more challenging conversations, and it is the full-spectrum of experience that makes it truly better than ever.

So in the case of me and Kelly, we had no forum for conflict over the years. We didn't fight, we didn't have skillful means for dealing with our darker urges and feelings and so we would just sweep what was uncomfortable under the rug and live more on the surface where things were lighter, nicer and easier for the most part. And for us, that approach worked for a long time. But eventually, the shadow came calling and the stuff swept under the rug had to be dealt with in order to continue on together. So, it had to get pretty freakin' messy for a while. We had a lot of years of collected garbage under there that we had to sort through and no one looks too good when they are going through that!

One of my favorite teachings from Ansuara Yoga and its contributing philosophies is the notion of spanda- that at the very core of Reality is a throb, a pulsation, a dynamic pulse that aches, yearns and demands to express itself. If, for whatever reason, we insist on only one aspect of that pulse to be expressed- in the case of our marriage, if we can't deal with conflict, pain, anger and betrayal as well as love, good humor, delight and so forth- we are truly against The Way of Things.

I wrote a few days ago about some people in the community feeling doubt in the midst of certain changes with Anusara Yoga. I got some feedback that people thought that I personally had doubts.To be clear, I really don't. I don't have doubts because I know and trust myself. I know and trust John Friend. I know and trust my colleagues. Most importantly, I know and trust the Light that we are all serving. I truly believe Grace has our best interests in mind.

And I am anchored in the teachings of spanda. Difficulty of any kind in a community- be it personal, be it professional, financial, inter-personal, administrative, internal, external and so forth is not a sign that something is "off." Difficulties are a sign of the pulse demanding to express itself in its fullness. We simply cannot limit the pulse to only what we like, to only what is comfortable, to only what we prefer. It is not The Way of Things. Difficulties need to be acknowledged, dealt with and transformed in the spirit of growth, transformation and so forth. (Like in marriage, you gotta learn to have healthy disagreement in order to stay in the game over the long term or the monsters under the rug get quite unruly, as we have already discussed.)

See, the word doubt has at its root, "to waver." and I have never once, in my whole time with John Friend, ever seen him waver in terms of his intention for us as a community. Seriously, not once has his intention wavered. He, like all of us, has grown, changed, made his own shifts and explored his own boundaries and like all of us, he is in his own process of development. But no way do I doubt his Heart. No way.

Along those lines, it has been a long time since I felt any wavering in my own resolve to serve this vision. I love this method, I love my work, I love my colleagues, I love my students and I love that now, after all these years, the conversation is more interesting than ever. John has trained us all to be sensitive, insightful, capable people who can hold the spanda with integrity, who can be discerning in the midst of complexity and who can be true to our own ideals while serving the whole. This is an exciting time of Possibility.

On a personal note, one thing I got to see with John this last week was his commitment in a very direct way. He took time every lunch break to meet with his senior students one-on-one, to give people "face time" with him to connect. He repeatedly asked the group for feedback and received it with openness and clarity. He spoke to some hard issues directly and with candor. As I sat with him more than once I felt his Light and his commitment to serve That Light just as I did on the first day I met him. So, when I hear him say "its better than ever" this year, I do not take that to mean- "we are perfect, there is nothing wrong, see this without flaw." I take that to mean, "We are fuller, we are expanding, we are more of what we have always been and we are more committed to face ourselves squarely than we ever have been."

So yes, its better than ever.


Olga Rasmussen said...

Wonderful summary of John's dedication and vision, the teachings of spanda and its direct application to us as community - and of the gathering of Anusara Teachers as well. May it dispel a lot of the doubts and anxious feelings out there!

Meg said...

Rock on sister!

Michael A. Biuso said...

Exactly what I needed to hear.
Thanks, Christina!

-Mike (Tucson)

Melanie Buffett said...

"John has trained us all to be sensitive, insightful, capable people who can hold the spanda with integrity, who can be discerning in the midst of complexity and who can be true to our own ideals while serving the whole." - This is a great lesson in and of itself. THANKS for your commitment to studentship, for being a superb teacher, and for sharing your personal experiences on the Path. I am ever grateful!

Anonymous said...

Your commitment to Satya, and to the process of transformation, your commitment to Anusara Yoga and your fearless approach to living are admirable Christina and the fact that you yourself are so unwavering in those commitments allows you to be such a bright strong light which can help others when they find themselves flickering with doubt. Your brave, clear voice never fails to inspire me.
Hope our paths cross again one day soon.
All the best.

Dale said...

I think that a pose is just an opportunity to do the actual work of asana - the UPAs are to me the important work, not the outward form of the pose.

Perhaps the philosophy is just the pose that gives our thinking and perceiving an opportunity to work toward understanding the (perhaps nonverbal) ways of Grace. Maybe the work that we do in the philosophical framework is to try to understand God more perfectly and follow him mor closely.

I think that after we have mastered the full form of a pose, so that we do not have to work at it any more, it becomes less useful to us. Perhaps, too, a particular facet of a philosophy becomes less useful to us once we fully understand how that way of thinking illuminates God.

Maybe new concepts bring us new opportunities to work try to comprehend God in new ways.

Maybe the struggle isn't so much something to be overcome in order to get to the good stuff. Maybe the struggle is the whole point of the exercise. A refining fire or the forge of God.

And of course, anything that brings more more intimacy has much to recommend it :-).