I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind and so I couldn't get back to sleep. I got up, meditated, made a cup of coffee, got to work on a few emails and decided it was time to write a blog entry.
We had a great weekend here with the Immersion at Breath and Body Yoga. The process is really so rewarding and profound. I mean, on one level, it's fairly straightforward and basic, right? You get a bunch of people in the room together and do a lot of yoga, talk about yoga philosophy and share a little with each other. How great does that sound?! And truth be told, I actually think it is pretty great.
But as so many of us know, so much more than that surface level of content goes on in the Immersion Process. The extended amount of asana practice itself, the subject matter of the philosophy lessons and the very circumstance of being in a small room with 35 people for 16 hours over a weekend is somewhat confrontational and creates a wonderful opportunity to see oneself with greater clarity.
One of my favorite teachings from Jyotish Astrology is about Surya, the sun. The thing about the sun in Vedic Astrology is that is shines brightly on everything all the time. At first hearing, that also sounds wonderful, right? Who doesn't want some light shining on them, bringing greater clarity? The thing is that the teaching in Jyotish is that the shines so brightly and so indiscriminately on everything that it is actually considered a malefic force. (Planets and such are categorized in that system as beneficent and malefic forces, which is part of a whole thing in and of itself and outside the scope of this post!)
Anyway, so that is the thing about the Light of Awareness. Yes, it shines no matter what is happening and yes, it brings the very clarity by which we can see and yet, it is completely uninterested in making that a gentle, sweet or pleasant process. I do not actually think of Surya as malefic as "bad" but I do think it is entirely without sentiment. I do believe The Light has our Ultimate Best Interests in mind but I do not think it gives a shit about making the process palatable, easy, or agreeable to our self-image. It has no interest in preserving our vanity or making sure our PR improves as result of our Work. Sometimes, in order to get the job of awakening done, it has to burn us a bit to get our attention. Its not personal. Its just how it goes.
Now the Immersion was not this dramatic at all. I am just saying, that it is easy to sign up for "a little yoga Immersion" thinking you are gonna hang out, laugh with your friends, do some asana and deepen your practice without being aware that:
a) there is no such thing as a "little yoga immersion" and that
b) deepening our practice usually involves looking at ourselves with greater scrutiny and
c) self- awareness has a price.
What I loved about working with this group is that they were into the process so wholeheartedly. As issues came up, they looked at themselves, laughed at themselves, asked each other for help and feedback and kept moving. We did laugh a lot, we did do A TON of asana and we got through the bulk of the curriculum without too much breakdown. It was, by all accounts, a success.
And as always, upon reflection, what I love most about these trainings is the way that all that surface content is getting handled and how, through the execution of the content itself, a deeper contextual shift happens for the sincere student who participates fully. I so often say that Immersions are life-changing and it's not that a talk on the structure and purpose of Patanjlai's Yoga Sutras is in itself life-changing. I mean, it may be. But it may not be. The thing is that the content is in service to the larger context of awakening. In Anusara that larger context is the unwavering invitation to each of us to come deeper into our Hearts and to step more profoundly into the current that informs our truth.
So, like Lee so often said, "Context is everything." Something, in my opinion, is life-changing, not when it changes our outer life (although that may happen also) but when our way of seeing ourselves or seeing our world changes. When we get a shift of context, everything else changes in an instant. What is the one change that changes everything? That is what the yoga is aimed at; that is what makes it so efficient and effective. Instead of running around fixing every little problem or every little shortcoming in the outer world, we can work for the one change that will change everything else and that is generally going to mean a contextual shift, not a change in content.
For instance, Lee used to say, the cure for financial insecurity is not having more money. The cure for financial insecurity, he taught, is having confidence in your ability to earn money. Another cure is to have faith. The cure for feeling insecure in our relationships is not having everyone tell us they love us. The cure for that kind of insecurity is to love ourselves, to be devoted to ourselves and that requires that we shine the light of awareness on old hurts and disregarded aspects of ourselves and that we shift our context from abandoning ourselves to lovingly including all parts of ourselves in our relationship with ourselves. If we do that, we are not going to be insure about being abandoned. Plain and simple.
Worry about being judged? We have to shift our own judgmental context! Worried about failing? We have to start wishing others well. For real. And so it goes. And it can all start from a little innocent talk on Patanjali in a "little yoga Immersion" where the Light of Awareness seeps into places of darkness and brings its boons and its blessings of necessary discomfort, friction and tapas so that we can experience a shift.
Enjoy the heat.