Today was Day Three of the Part Two Immersion. It has been a wonderful week so far. Something about Part Two is really awesome because the people who make it through Part One come back more seasoned, more prepared and somehow both stronger and softer. There is so much to do in Part One- so much context, foundational information and even just the 6-day format is something to adjust to and get a handle on and all that often kicks people out of the process due to the intensity of the experience and the many ways the "actual product" may not have met their preconceived notions and expectations. But those people who make it through all of that and come back for more are usually in a very different place at the start of Part Two than they were at the start of Part One. Of course, one would hope the process worked like that; that it would be moving us along in our growth, etc. but nonetheless its wonderful to see and be a part of.
We have been talking a fair amount this week about the movement from Raw Power to Refinement and the goddess archetypes that guide the journey through the creative cycles and the journey from Kali to Saraswati to Lakshmi or Shri. It has been such a useful paradigm to invoke in the Part Two Immersion where the Raw Power and intention of Part One is getting honed, refined, clarified. Its happening on so many levels this week- from asana to the inner work and insight arising within the chamber we call Immersion.
I have actually been aware of it within myself. I have been reflecting on the last few years of working with Darren on these programs and I can even see that movement through the cycles for myself. I can see many ways that I have moved from the starting point of my own intense raw power that I had to a more refined outer presentation as well as a deeper inner experience of my own Beauty and Heart. Its amazing how profound the process is to be a part of and how much teaching the Immersion has asked of me over the years and how rewarding the work has been both personally and professionally.
Today's afternoon session was particularly strong. Darren posed a consideration to the group that had to do with Life Script v. Aim. He told stories about his own choices that were determined by Life Script- those patterns of behavior that we have from childhood or even from family samskaras that assure certain outcomes- and stories about choices he made that were made in alignment with his Aim as a yogi. He asked the group to examine what "Life Script-inspired" patterns had come up this week and how they might be recognized, utilized and transformed in the heat of yoga to take us further toward our Aim. It evoked some interesting conversation and some amazing heart-felt sharing.
My heart was ripped wide open by the vulnerability of the sharing and the compassion the students offered each other. I was so touched by the work people were allowing themselves to do in the Immersion. It was so strong and the thing that seems so clear to me is that when we have an Aim, when we really commit to it, that vision and commitment initiate something very Real inside us and gives us leverage into a level of work on self that is impossible without such a focus.
The thing is, when we know what our Aim is, then events, situations, feelings, etc. that are apparently "going wrong" can turned to something Higher. They become a kind of fuel for tapas, for transformational heat. If we do not know what we are aiming at, those things are simply things that are going wrong. Having an Aim that we are truly committed to takes us out of life as a victim and puts us into a deeper accountability with Life as it Is. And Life as It is is always trying to communicate with us, is always trying to teach us. This, to me, is at the Heart of Studentship. We must know our Aim, commit to it and then go about using what Life gives us from within and without accountably to further our journey to our Heart.
And when we do this, even the messiest of times, can be turned into something good. I think this is what we mean by Looking for the Good in Ansuara Yoga. It's not a new-age overlay of positive thinking. Really, I am pretty sure that is not at all what John means by this practice. Looking for the Good means that we train ourselves to recognize that our darkest times often yield the gold of our growth. Think about it- the worst times in life often become the fertile soil out of which our compassion grows. Our mistakes are often the greatest lessons. Our injuries many times make us brilliant therapists. And so on it goes. Looking for the Good means that we can know this truth even when we are in moments of darkness, even in our despair and even when anxiety seems to be in the driver's seat. Looking for the Good is a context we hold that says, "I will be a yogi; I will continue to work toward my Aim even in the worst of circumstances. I will practice."
Its not a guarantee, though. Plenty of shit can happen to us and within us and we can lack the skill, support, resources or will to make good use of it. Just because everything can be turned to the Highest doesn't mean that we come to the path knowing how to do that. Nope, this shift doesn't happen automatically. It takes yoga of some sort, I think. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes unrelenting persistence in the face of repeated failure to learn how to make use of our discomfort so that the heat yields breakthrough and not breakdown.
In the Kularnava Tantra there is a great verse that says, "on the path of the kula, enjoyment becomes yoga, your mistakes or sins become art and all life is liberation." We have to be on the path for that promise to be fulfilled or else its just enjoyment, sin and life. To turn those things into Yoga, Art and Liberation, the path of the kula must be engaged.
So this was the afternoon- with some forward bends, meditation, pranayama and savasana thrown in for good measure. Wow. What a day at the office.