And since I ate before I taught I stayed after class while some folks went out to dinner and got a practice in. So that was really great for me. After a long day of sitting I was very happy to do my inversions and a deep hip opening practice. Lovely.
We had a strong back bend class this morning with lots of work in the shoulders to and upper back to get ready for eka pada raja kapotasana. Lots of people touched their toes behind their head for the first time, which is always fun to be part of. After lunch we did a quieter class with pranayama, mantra, meditation and inversions, hip openers and forward bends. Good stuff. Some folks even put their leg behind their head before the class was over. Again, always fun.
We had a potluck tonight and I am now ready to hit the sack and call it a day. We start early in the morning with a group practice, which should be pretty fun. We didn't do a lot of arm balances this weekend so I think will be a big part of tomorrow's session.
One of the things I enjoy the most about the work I do- in terms of the travelling part of the work I do, at least- is getting a chance to visit communities throughout the country and meet amazing sincere and dedicated practitioners everywhere I go. Athens, Georgia is no different. It is really fun to see the tight knit group of people who have joined together here in the practice of yoga. The method, as it grows, is still attracting fantastic people to it.
I had a great conversation with one of the students at the potluck about how is it that we actually cultivate compassion for ourselves. Like what to we do? What is that process like? And so on.
As we got into the discussion one of the cool insights he shared with me was that it is dawning on him that the rate and speed of modern life- wi-fi connections, google searches, television, microwaves, etc. just does not prepare us to be ready for the rate and speed at which the inner life develops. Modern life gives us a false impression that we can have what we want instantly and that we can change and grow as quickly as we can microwave a burrito or order something from amazon. But the truth is, the inner life has a completely different speed at which it evolves and many times it is slower than we wish it was. We may spend many years in the stage of "awareness of the issue" coupled with "failed attempts to gain just a little traction towards change" before we move into any kind of ability to actually shift and behave differently. That's just how it can be for many of us.
We do have great technology for change as yogis- we have intention, we have asana, we have meditation, we have pranayama, we have mantra, we have visualization, scripture and so forth. We have modern tools also like psychotherapy, journal writing, support groups and communication skills and self-help books galore. We can make changes to our diet, we can get body work, we can take vitamins and we can nurture and nourish our bodies in really valuable ways. And so on. And yet, the deep changes of really growing into who we most truly are happen according to a slower wisdom and align us with a deeper current of truth that will not-- CAN NOT- conform to a fast-paced, instant gratification expectation or model. Think about it- the whole context of yoga is multi-lifetimes. This is deep work, after all.
So I think- and this student and I discussed- that part of how we can develop compassion for ourselves is to understand that the process of growth and change takes time. Even cultivating compassion takes time. And of course, we have to make efforts. That is our part of the deal and we need to keep it. But sometimes the effects of those efforts are just not visible on the surface of things. Many times deep shifts are happening within us and those deep currents are changing profoundly and yet the surface water looks exactly the same. So we have to have faith. Faith in the practice, the teachings, our efforts and in what my teacher has called the Great Process of Divine Evolution.
See, the thing is, we are part of that Process of Evolution and it just is not a quick fix, an easy high or a commodity that comes cheaply. In fact, I have heard it called "The Pearl of Great Price." And what makes a pearl? Remember? It's that little piece of sand that gets in the oyster and becomes an irritant. Over along period of time, the little annoying piece of sand evolves into something of great beauty and great value. And even then, one has to mine the pearl. So like that.