So here I am again at the end of another incredibly rich, rewarding and thought-provoking week. Me, Darren and Amy Ippoliti joined forces for a week of “post Immersion studies.” This training was born from the recognition that so many Immersion graduates wanted to continue to explore asana, philosophy and their own inner terrain after the Immersion process was over and yet, there are only so many times they wanted to sit through the talks on the tattvas and the over view of the three main schools of yoga philosophy. (Even as great as though talks are!)
Anyway- we decided we would team up and see what the “next level” might look like. It was a pretty amazing week, really. I certainly do not think it is the only “next level” but I do think it was “a next level” that was full of transformational insight and personal shifts- so much so that many people literally looked different by the end of the week.
We spent the week contemplating what it means to become magnetic; to magnify what is most magnificent within us and to attract to ourselves more of the same from that recognition. It was an interesting conversation for sure. I have never really been a person totally into “the law of attraction” or into “creating my reality” or “manifesting my dream” in any conscious way. Lee’s teachings had a lot more to do with being a beggar and living in a receptive, feminine mode where the order of the day was accepting life as it is more than creating life “as we want it to be” and so forth.
And yet, as I continue down the path I can see that these two approaches do not have to be at odds with one another at all and can be joined in the place of the middle with discernment, discrimination and integrity to one’s guiding values and ethics. When I do look back at my life, I can see that I have always been attracted to service, devotion and to community. These ideals have always magnetized me to spiritual teachings, to inner work, disciplined practice, committed partnerships and group work of all kinds. (I am the one joining spiritual communities, signing up for personal growth retreats , exploring healing modalities and volunteering my time to service projects and so forth.)
At any rate, I think for a long time I have thought that I didn’t really set goals or set conscious intentions and so forth but I suppose that that is not exactly true. I have always prayed to be of service. I have always longed to be a better student and to bring integrity to my efforts on the Path. I have always endeavored to deepen my authenticity and to grow more skillful in its expression. In fact, when I look at my life this very moment it is exactly what I remember praying for and longing for over 25 years ago.
I think the thing is that we vision and dream in a place that is outside of time. And yet changes, growth and the skill set required to manifest, maintain and have integrity with the dream happen in time. It can be easy to think, “that freakin’ manifestation workshop didn’t work at all” when we do not get immediate results. But many times, things are lining up in ways we cannot see and circumstances are playing out that are very much leading us in the direction of what we most truly desire.
One time a physical therapist told me that when a person begins working out they have amazing strength gains that are not actually possible in terms of how the body actually builds strength. For instance in the first couple of weeks of training a formerly sedentary person will double and sometimes triple the weight they start working out with and muscle fibers in and of themselves do not actually grow that quickly. The human body, he said, just does not get that kind of strength that fast. He said that the gains are made mostly in the mind; there was untapped potential in the person’s body that the working out “turned on” largely though conscious awareness and use and that is what is responsible for the increased capacity and performance.
I think transformation is also like that. Sometimes, by consciously recognizing what we are about and what values we hold dear we see immediate results from visioning work. I had this happen recently when I set a goal to have an article published in a major yoga magazine within the year and then two days later I was invited to write an article. (Should be out this fall in Yoga International. YAHOO!) Or when we realize that we do not have to be broke to be spiritual and we suddenly have earning opportunities present themselves. So sometimes, its pretty quick.
But other times, there is more work to be done and a vision has to be built, in the same way a person must build their strength in a gym once the initial gains are made. And a lot of times, that requires inner work and time to not only access potential but to increase our skill and capacity. For instance, one of our first certified teachers and I were talking about John’s steady development as a teacher. People who meet him now do not realize how he didn’t start where he is now; he built his strength and skill and his outer success today was made possible over time through dedicated sustained efforts. He was always dedicated to the teachings. He was always dedicated to serving the Highest in his students. But how he was serving in the beginning was not always what it is today. She told me that almost 20 years ago, she invited him to teach at her studio and he said, “Yes, try to get at least ten people to do it and I will make sure that it is totally worth it for them!”
She told me this story with tears of gratitude in her eyes at The Grand Gathering last year after watching him teach 800 people in the hall one morning. He didn’t go from “I have a dream” to “I am teaching 800 people as the head of a world-wide yoga community.” He built it, one person at a time, magnetizing himself to his values and drawing like-hearted people to him and investing in each person with committed, authentic, tangible shows of support. And he grew and we grew and as a result “it” grew. The desire to help as many people as possible set into motion all kinds of learning opportunities, many of which were difficult and many of which were exalted, but all of which happened in the field of time.
So sometimes, when we are in the thick of our personal stories and personal challenges it is hard to see how strong we are becoming and to remember that our vision may be served one day through the insights gleaned in the difficulty . In the same way that a bone which has been broken and then healed becomes stronger at the place it broke, each one of us can grow stronger, more resilient and more magnetic through facing our various difficulties head-on. Sometimes the difficulty is betrayal, sometimes it is addiction and sometimes it is just wondering if we are making a difference in the world when no one seems to notice our efforts. (This feeling often plagues yoga teachers who so sincerely dream to make a difference in the world and yet may teach without fancy studios, wild popularity, prestige, press or recognition from “the industry” or the scene of yoga.)
Asserting our vision in those moments of difficulty is important because who we are in the face of adversity determines how that adversity will shape us. Will we become stronger at the break or will we become crooked, bitter and brittle, like a bone that has been set wrong or that was not given the the optimal circumstances to mend?
And if we desire “more” in some area, (and more is not always external or extroverted, mind you) my personal opinion is that we have to be that “more” in our current situation and master the arena in which we currently find ourselves and it is that mastery that will be part of what magnetizes the next level of magnificence to us.
I recently ran across a Youtube clip of MC Yogi at some festival several years ago. His audience was small, made up mostly of a few long-haired hippies dancing around in circles in a field. But what was instructive in the video was his performance. His performance was every bit as vital as it is now. He didn’t wait to be great until he had a bigger venue or more recognition. He gave his performance his all then and there and later the audiences grew and all the while he was honing his craft and growing his capacity to serve and create.
So I believe it is that kind of committed action, sustained over time that calls to us and calls us to greater magnificence. And the thing is, our greatness may not attract bigger audiences. Popularity is not the only way to measure the value of a vision in my opinion. But at least, if we go for it in this way we will have our greatness and know our magnificence. If we wait for the outer manifestation to give permission, validation and so forth then we may wait for ever and fail to build ourselves in the ways required to bring the vision to life. Magnificence can start today, in this moment, in the nitty gritty of wherever and however we find ourselves.