Well, its been a very full month so far. Kelly and I came down to Tucson Monday and had a day to regroup before me and Darren started our training on Wednesday.
It's a really unique experience, this training. We are on week six of a six-week process that began in January as an Anusara Immersion and continued on in August as an Anusara Yoga teacher training. As so many of you know, half-way through our second week of Teacher Training, Darren and I resigned our Anusara certifications. So we have a room full of people who started with us in January with one thing in mind and who are finishing following unforeseen circumstances.
We have an amazing group of students who are sincere, dedicated, sweet and hard-working and who held a compassionate, encouraging space for me and Darren in a time of turmoil only a few months ago. It has been wonderful to re-connect with them, to be together again and to forge ahead out of one paradigm and into another. Darren and I have been a bit unsure this week about how much to talk about what happened and what we feel like is next and how much to just stay with "business as usual." I am mindful that the process of our decision making already has taken a lot of time from the groups' formal teacher training and yet when we checked in with the group about it, one thing that was so amazing was to hear them reflect to us that our transparency about our process was actually "teacher training" of a variety that is pretty hard to find. Very reassuring.
So I find myself in a steep learning curve these days as the transition from "certified Anusara Yoga teacher" and "community leader" is morphing into something else entirely and I am learning the ropes of how to live fully as a "voluntarily de-frocked yoga activist sage" as one of my Facebook friends recently called me. Anyway, I have had, as one might predict, some great victories and some misses and mistakes. One recent "miss" had to do with a lack of sensitivity at a workshop.
In retrospect I would have managed certain things more skillfully had I been aware of the fact most of the people in the room didn't know I had recently resigned from Anusara! I assumed everyone knew what had been going on but they didn't. I could've been softer and sweeter about it than I was. (I suppose in that way, it is business as usual! Anyhoo...) Also, I am with me and my news and my process every day and the rate of growth and change over the last few months has been rapid. I wasn't really tuned into the fact that this was the first time people would be hearing the news or seeing me and they were not up to speed with the process. Again, softer and sweeter might have been better...
The cool thing is that the path I am on is not a path where mistakes are not allowed. Mistakes and misses are part of the process of growth and change and being afraid of making a mistake is a kind straight-jacket to have to live in all the time. The cool thing is that being a yoga teacher invites a lot of feedback of many different flavors from a variety of sources and its always useful to reflect on what is being said as a way to refine and grow. As yoga teachers we tend to live a lot of our lives in public and so our mistakes are public as are our victories and triumphs. And because of that, feedback is a way that Grace has to communicate with us and to teach us. Lee used to say that "all feedback is neutral" even if it was meant by another in a harmful way. It's our relationship to the message that determines its meaning and value. We can run amuck in either direction-- seeking praise, avoiding criticism, buying into the critiques too much and fueling self-hatred, etc.-- and we always have ample opportunities to fall off the razor's edge of yoga in either direction.
We spent some time talking about that this morning in class. One of the class members shared a bit about how she worries her personality isn't "acceptable" as a yoga teacher since she is strong-willed, opinionated and outspoken. (And no, this was not me sharing!) It was such an interesting thing because on one hand, as yoga teachers, we have the opportunity to refine our personalities in certain ways and to cultivate ourselves according to certain virtues so that we can effectively offer the teachings to a wide variety of people in broad-ranging circumstances. However, we also have the opportunity to be authentic, individuated expressions of The Influence (I wrote about this a while back) and by being true to ourselves, give other people permission to be authentic and true to who they are. All that is great. I am totally into that.
So here is the thing- not everyone is going to like our truth. Not everyone we teach is going to share our outlook, our sense of humor or our values and ethics. (As an example, I once- and only once- dated a man who did not think I was funny. It was horrible. Shocking also, because how could you not think I am funny? I mean, really. Hello... But I digress.) My point is that just because I am being true to myself does not mean people are going to like it. In fact, I once had a 12-step sponsor who told me, "Christina, if at least 10% of the people in your life are not mad at you at any given time, you are probably not telling the truth."
And as soon as we are "too much" for one person, another person is going to step in and love our intensity. And as soon as we are "too honest" for someone, someone else is breathing a sigh of relief that we are finally talking about the HUGE elephant in the middle of the room. As soon as we try to be "compassionate and sweet" someone else senses we are fake. As soon as we are "cheery and positive" someone is doubting our clarity and depth. This goes on and on and on and at some point, we get to really see that people not liking our "individuated expression of Grace" is not necessarily cause to change. Sometimes, of course, it is. And sometimes outer success and popularity at the expense of our wholeness is just not worth it.
However, having said all that, I do believe that most feedback that comes our way is worth looking at squarely before we accept or deny its validity and take or not take action on it. And choosing to shift our personality expression as teachers may be a choice in the name of a higher service which is totally different than shifting from the childish perspective of wanting to be popular, well-liked or approved of.
Once again, context is everything.
Anyway, we spent some time today outlining our vision for the School of Yoga and our future course offerings: Look for a 200-hour program in Tucson in 2012 (which, if you have any inclination to do make sure you call Rachel at Yoga Oasis because its filling up!) and an additional 300-hours being offered in 2013 and the first part 2014. I have some cool programs planned for San Marcos next year and will start a 200-hour program in Texas in 2013 with the additional 300 hours to follow. As we clarify and evolve that vision I will be posting more about all of that. And even though I do not want to be a "system", I want to be clear that I have plans to teach an awesome curriculum in a very systematic, orderly way so its not a mishmash of random information. We have been consulting with several experts in the field of yoga, education and anatomy to craft a top-notch program of the highest caliber. So stay tuned for details!