Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Few Reflections from the Weekend

We had a really wonderful- in some ways, "off the charts" weekend at our workshop this weekend.  We had great attendance, great studentship, lots of laughter, hard work, sweat, steam and deep considerations about what it means to have radical self esteem.

To me, the whole idea of radical self-esteem is referenced the in the idea that radical actually means, "of or pertaining to the roots, that which is fundamental or even extreme or thorough." To me, self- esteem is valid consideration for the yogi because we actually have to have a positive self-regard to feel worthy of the great promises of yoga, to take care of ourselves optimally so that we can stay healthy and on track in our discipline and so that we can recognize that our life of spirit-based practice is actually an act of extreme self-love and self-honor. And when we really love ourselves, when we really recognize our worth, our ability to serve, to help and to express ourselves with meaning and joyful purpose increases.

I am not really someone who is into self-esteem for its own sake because I think that kind of pursuit is a bit limited and has more than a few pitfalls. I have known so many people so dedicated to "esteeming themselves well"  that were unable to look squarely at what was distasteful or dysfunctional within their psychology and behavior. As soon as these people begin to notice or hear from others that they were not "great" their esteem would feel threatened or at stake somehow and they would ignore the feedback and reassert how great they were, thus preserving their esteem at the cost of honest clarity and self-scrutiny. This pattern, for instance, is one of a few serious pitfalls that can occur when with the  pursuit of self-esteem outside of a spiritual context.

The context of radical esteem is to remember, to recognize and to experience directly that what makes us worthy is our God-given connection to Grace, our fundamental perfection and our deep Truth of Being that is, as the teachings tell us, stainless, pure, sparkling with Spiritual Light. This is at Source. this is the root. This teaching is why its radical- this Light is extreme, thorough and at the baseline of our worth. This is the domain of Being.

Having said all that, each one of us may be all kinds of crazy at times with a tremendous amount of work to do to actually glimpse this Light of our True Self. This is the domain of Becoming and as yogi's we cannot ignore this domain or bypass it with lofty descriptions of our True Nature's perfection. Sure we are perfect at the level of Being, but if we are acting in violent ways toward ourselves and others, then we are missing the point of the practice.

And these domains live in a spanda with each other. If all we do is assert the Being level we bypass the important work on self that helps us grow up, be accountable, functional and ready to serve. If all we do is clean up our outer life without recognition of the inner Light then we run the risk of using yoga to make what basically amounts to cosmetic changes and our yoga  can become yet another vain self-improvement project.

As usual, I think it is both, and the yoga can be approached from either end to great effect. More on this later.

As I knew I would, I had a blast hanging out with Amy who is very fun-loving, funny and and passionate about growth change and living in Potential and Possibility. And I enjoyed seeing her teach and teaching with her  and having the whole shebang in Austin was really great for me.

I head out to Tucson today for an Immersion with Darren. We are full to the brim with Immersees and I am excited to dive into the teachings with a new group.  Stay tuned for  more on that.

1 comment:

Barefootlotuss said...

One of my clients recently reflected to me the distinction between a society that emphasizes "self-esteem" and the more Buddhist notion of 'self-compassion' which resonated for him.