Well, we have made it to the end of the week and thus the end of the Part Two Immersion tomorrow. It has been a very profound week in a lot of ways. As always the intensity of meeting the curriculum guidelines is immense and the responsibility I feel as a presenter of these Immersions is strong and pervasive and So all of that s there. And, as always, the Immersions also stimulate such rich reflections and insight amongst the group and inside me as a teacher and student of the yoga. It never fails. The Immersions are rigorous, intense and inspiring in so many ways.
One of the recurring themes for me this week was the importance of really having an aim as a yogi. It seems more and more obvious to me that practices and lifestyle recommendations in yoga are NOT about a list of outer do's and don'ts designed to make us into some kind of "ideal yogi". Really, how we chose to evolve our practice and our studentship (I am not tallking here aout "yoga class studentship" but the larger consideration of being a student of Life, discipleship to the flow, sadhana, etc.) is really all about what we want from the yoga. If what we want is a health-based hobby, then the yoga is not going to ask that much of us or require that we relinquish a lot of our comforts, preferences, and so forth. Ut if we are looking for deeper outcomes from yoga than a hobby provides we might be asked to turn up the heat in our practices.
Mind you, I am not criticizing the different aims. I am not someone who has an issue with "yoga for a cuter butt" despite what people might think. Nope, that's not my axe to grind. I could care less why people do yoga in a way and have no interest AT ALL in convincing people with an athletic orientation to be more "spiritual" about it, for instance. That,to me,is a very boring discussion. Who cares? I reoeate- not me. What I am interested in is that eah of us know our personal reasons for practice and that we feel empowered by them and that we make intelligent choices in our lives based on those reasons. And, I feel no need to see the reasons- while all great reasons, in general- as the same. So things can be different and still be valid. We have to be grown ups about that, you know? (so that was a bit of rant. Now, onward through the terrain....)
This idea of knowing one's own aim came up over and over in our talks this week where I kept landing squarely back to the same insight- as yogis we need to know what we are aiming at in order to know what we should be doing, Thus the first principle being so much about intention and sankalpa and being clear with what we want and clear about how we set our foundation. Everything we do is going to stem from our aim. And best that we can make that aim conscious so we can participate consciously in aligning with it.
One day we were talking about eh five elements as they relate to studetnship and someone said, "well it just sounds like this is all about being some kind of perfect student or something.". And it dawned on me with utter obviousness that it was no such thing. The elements outline a balanced approach to studentship but how much we need to develop our weaknesses has to do with how much of a liability they are relative to our aim, relative to what to what we want, what we are called to, etc. Lee used to talk about his all the time, saying sadhana was not about becoming some version of our self that is new and improved. He would talk about how, if particular traits and idiosyncrasies were not in the way of our service, or our dharma, then it would be best to spend no extra energy trying to eradicate them. Yoga is not about conforming to an outer standard- it is about aligning with our inherent goodness, our deepest capacity and our longing to serve in a reliable way. If in the process of doing that, we need to refine ourselves and our efforts, well fine. We can and we should. But it is not an outside- in proposition.
This has been a wonderful new layer of insight and clarity for me this week and is just one of the many jewels I will walk away with from my time with this group. The other fun thing has been teaching an immersion to a group of people who really like school and are very comfortable in a classroom settting. The students read on the break and at night, prepare questions,review their notes with each other, ask insightful, reflective questions in class, take copious amounts of notes in class, and like the nerdy stuff a lot which has been fun.
It has been a wonderful week, full of richness and also, it's been tiring. I am happy we will close things down tomorrow and then have a few days for R&R.