Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Evening

Another wonderful and intense weekend has come to a close and I am returning home with a full and inspired heart. In fact, I am writing this on the plane. The weekend, like I said, was wonderful and intense. (Also Intensely wonderful and wonderfully intense.) Like that.
We had 60 people in the workshop with over 75% of the folks in attendance from places other than Tucson. We had lots of certified teachers in the room  and plenty of Anusara-Inspired teachers there as well. The  caliber of studentship was incredibly high and the focused intention of the group was unparalleled. It was a very unique offering in so many ways. The timing of the New Year, the fact that it was 6 hours a day for 3 days, that everyone participated in the entire weekend not just select sessions, that there were only 60 people and it was co-taught  by 3 experienced teachers made for a very potent chamber, to say the least.
In fact, our goal as teachers was to provide a chamber for the students- to create a transformational opportunity that would set in motion a series of shifts that might not otherwise occur in a more ordinary circumstance. In his opening words, Darren called this chamber a crucible. A crucible is a container in which alchemy occurs. It is a container capable of withstanding high pressure and intense heat so that metal can be melted and transformed. 
I love this idea as a guiding metaphor for our work as yogis. We need a crucible externally in order to Work. We need strong boundaries, firm guidance, disciplined structures, focused intention and undivided attention in order to  break the force of habit that binds us so that we can step into new territory physically and psychically. Time and again I see that when we have these things, transformational shifts happen because of the heat such circumstances produce and call forth from us. Workshops like these can provide outer structures that are useful in many ways and can, without a doubt, assist our growth and development.
But there is another level of training that is going on also. We are also becoming the crucible, the container in which change and transformation occurs.  That the whole thing in asana- we have the opportunity forge  a strong and resilient chamber of our bodies that is  capable of withstanding the intense energy, the incredibly profound  pressure and heat of transformation. This is the  energy of the yoga itself. It is not a casual affair, it is a burning, passionate and intense fire that, once invoked, engaged and cultivated, incinerates all that stands in its way.
The fire of yoga is, at its essence a Fire of Love- but it is not a sentimental love at all. It is a consuming flame that cares very little for our preferences, for our personal comforts. It has no regard for our opinions about how things should be because it cares only that we learn to respond to ourselves, to each other and to Life itself from the highest possible perspective. In the sincere and committed seeker, the Fire of Love will do it's job  no matter what. 
Lee used to talk about "becoming attractive to God" and he would talk about how we could become "food for the Divine." It's a kind of esoteric idea but the basic premise  is that either the values of the Sleeping World and its vices will consume us, or eat us,  or the Divine will. And if we have the good fortune to attract the attention of the Divine and once the Universe takes an interest in us and our growth on the Path, we  are not necessarily going to be asked when it is  convenient for us to grow and change. We are going to be answering to a much higher authority than convenience. If we bind ourselves to the work of our dharma and our dharma needs us to shift to be of service to it, then the fire is gonna come to us. I know in my own life there have been (and will be) times when I  willingly toss myself into the fire  and other times when I  need to be dragged -kicking and screaming - to it's flames in the most humbling ways imaginable. It's just how it goes. 
But the idea is, that even though the fire has not once spark of sentimentality or caution for our vanity, it does have our best interests in mind and it is not an indiscriminate fire. Not in the least. We can trust it and we can trust where it's taking us. Even when things don't look pretty. I mean who looks pretty when their vanity is being exposed for what it is? Think about it... If  we were looking good in the process then vanity wouldn't be getting the nudge it needs now would it? How we would we ever learn patience without frustration? How would we learn humility without failure? How would we know community without loneliness? And so on.

So the weekend was a full-spectrum kind of experience and intense in so many ways and people had incredible shifts. It was a honor to teach such amazing people who are so committed to their practice and to what yoga is asking them to become. I was humbled, inspired, awe-struck, ecstatic and deeply grateful to be in the space with everyone. 
Also great was teaching with two of my very best friends.  On a personal note, I think one of the things I like about teaching and spending time with Darren and Noah is that they are as intense as I am, albeit in different ways and with different manifestations and so forth. I love their company so much because they each cultivate the fire of yoga within themselves and tend it's flames with tenacity, passion, honesty and commitment. And their Work calls me to my own. You can't really ask for better friends.
All right, more later.


Nora said...

The fire in my heart is burning brightly. The Alchemy continues. Thank you for a truly transformative weekend!


maggie said...

lunge with front leg in malasana, forehead down, hands clasped behind back--loling all over the mat!

this was hilarious.. and pretty serious! great practice

kwajnman said...

What a very interesting blog!! I think your idea of transformational opportunity is very close to Stephen Cope's 'transformational space' but I think 'the crucible' is a more linited metaphor, because it indicates that everybody needs great heat. I believe and I think that Cope agrees with me, that the transformational space is created not in a one size fits all, but rather with respect to individual needs, and the great effort and heat could translate into sustained effort over time or exactly as much effort and heat as your body needs. But how awesome and daunting it must be to be able to create such a space !!

Christina Sell said...

Hmm.... Well, in my experience, heat is created in a lot of ways and I do not think its a limited metaphor at all. Heat in this case is created when we come up against anything that is counter our habitual tendencies.

For instance, take a stressed out person, lay them down on a soft blanket and tell them to relax and that is going to be "heat" for them. Or from a slightly different angle, a person used to "doing" is going to face heat when told to "be."

When I met John Friend, he only complimented me for a full week and did I ever "cook" from him being nice to me instead of critical. It was soft and sweet but a fire nonetheless.

And our theme for the weekend was Tough as Nails, Soft as Ghee so for some, the "tough" part was harder and for others the "soft" part is harder. It all depends.

I am in complete agreement that it is not one size fits all.

Always, at the level of context, the principles of change are somewhat universal. At the level of content and implementation, there is a high degree of personalization required. We have to know which domain we are speaking from, you know?