Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day Two

Well we have really entered Teacher Training world because I have no idea what day of the week it is today-- only that it was Day Two of Teacher Training. We really had an awesome day. We have been starting every day of the training with silence and a period of meditation and pranayama which has been a wonderful addition to these week-long trainings. After that we spent about 30 minutes talking about six attributes of the absolute that became eight attributes in 2010 and Anusara Yoga Philosophy that in May was codified as Shiva-Shakti tantra. All in all this was a fun discussion.

One thing you have to reconcile to continue to be happy in Anusara Yoga is that this is an evolving conversation. And like I said this morning, our involvement in the discussion evolves it. On one level very little has changed since John started the method. And yet, the way the basic premises are communicated and the flavor of the communication and the bhava or mood of the culture has shifted and changed over time to be sure. Lucky for us, our leader is growing, changing and refining his thoughts and experiences and so the method and the way we are asked to represent it is growing, changing and being refined.

The trainees spent the morning in small groups practice teaching and refining verbal articulation skills. After lunch we debriefed the morning and then spent the afternoon on conflict resolution skills and talking about transference and how it can rear it's ugly head in our relationships as yoga teachers. The thing that really stood out for me about this afternoon's discussions is how many times, as yogis in community we can have a conscious (or oftentimes unconscious) expectation that because we are in a "yoga community" conflict will not arise and we should some how be immune from all the painful expressions and manifestations of our humanity like jealousy, envy, fear, greed, deceit and and so on because we are yogis.

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us came to yoga, not because we were free of that stuff but because we wanted to get free of it and we thought yoga might have some help to offer. And it does have help to offer. It has profound technology to help us overcome the darkness within ourselves. But it doesn't always work right away and many times along the way to getting better, it actually gets worse.

I am not positive about why things often feel worse before they feel better but I think that it is because one of the main technological resources we have as yogis to overcome our darkness is something called awareness. My teacher taught us a practice of self-observation that involves observing ourselves without judgment and without attempting to change ourselves. There is more to it than that, I suppose. But essentially, the idea is that by seeing something exactly as it is with no buffers, a shift of consciousness can occur inside the practitioner. (as it relates to A
asana practice-- I remember being in Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, Laurie Blakeney's class and someone asked her how to get some muscle to fire and she said, "stare at it until it moves." and i have tried that approach in asana and it does work.)

Self observation is not so dissimilar. I suppose we stare at ourselves until we move but with no investment in moving at all. And so it is, like so many things on the path, paradoxical. By seeing something as it is without trying to change it, it actually changes. But in order to really see it, just as it is in the way that it is unavoidable and in the way that we can no longer avoid our own part in it, the "it" we are observing has to get pretty big. I think this may be part of what is going on when something seems to get worse before it gets better.

Many times, when conflicts, difficulties and mala-inspired patterns arise inside ourselves and in our communities we hit a panic button and make a bunch of decisions. Generally, these decisions do not have our best interest in mind. They tend to go like this- "this should not be happening in a yoga community, " "I guess those yogis are actually full of shit," " so much for Anusara and all their open hearted crap- I knew i couldn't trust them," " if they were really practicing yoga they wouldn't be so___________" and so on- all of which boils to leave, check out, exit, good bye.

Anyway, none of that is how I see it. I think we come to path to get free of these limiting ways of thinking, feeling and acting and in order to move to the next level in our growth and practice we have to see what is in our way clearly. It may get really big before we can see it. We do not come to yoga already knowing how to be yogi's. We engage the path and then the path-slowly, surely, deliberately and painstakingly at times- trains us how to stay on the path and to grow in our capacity to hold these teachings with greater degrees of efficacy and integrity.

I figure all the same mundane bullshit that happens in any community is going to happen in yoga community. Why wouldn't it, given that we don't become yogis due to our perfect record of righteous conduct but instead we become yogi's because we need the teachings. I figure what makes conflict different in yoga communities is that we have the teachings, we have each other and we have the practices so perhaps we can work towards more enlightened outcomes. Perhaps we can bring consciousness to bear on our discord, awareness to bear on our habitual tendencies and we can, over time learn to engage the conflict skillfully so that we grow and evolve and get trained and honed in our humanity through the process.

Well, I suppose more could be said, but enough for now.

Good night.

Sent from my iPad


Nathan said...

I really appreciate this post. There's so much repression and spiritual bypassing, and not enough honestly and willingness to work with the messes that are part of life. I've seen it with yogis, and with people in the Zen communities I have been a part of. Fear of conflict and attachments to being "perfect" in some manner are commonplace - I know I still struggle with them at times myself. Which is why it's all the more important that collectively, groups decide to be willing to work with the "tough stuff," and prepare themselves for the times when things aren't blissful or even pleasant. So, thank you for doing that with your students.

Meg said...

Because we need the teachings.