After that, the students taught the sequence to another group who then taught their sequence to the first group. It was a wonderful process and the trainees did really great with it. It was also fun to see how their individual teaching styles are really emerging. And because we have a small group I am able to really give a lot of personal attention to the trainees which is fun for me also. All in all I am enjoying the intimacy, comradery and maturity of this group.
It is so amazing to me how every training group has a unique flavor and personality and how much I enjoy being with every group I get a chance to be with. Its such an amazing thing to start a week not knowing anyone and end a week feeling like we have shared a very meaningful and sometimes multi-dimensional journey together. (of course this group is not brand new to me by any means.) Like I so often say, teaching these trainings is rich, rewarding and challenging work. I enjoy it immensely and I also suffer it a fair amount, truth be told. I am passionate about the subject of yoga, about my practice, about the craft of teaching, the challenges of learning, the psychology of both the teacher and the students and the dynamic process involved in engaging the study of consciousness in and through the body together. In fact, I live with a kind of divine discontent relative to this particular dharma as the task at hand is very difficult and multi-dimensional.
I was talking about it this morning to Kelly as we drove down to San Marcos for Day 3 of the training. As I have been reading through various blogs about current "yoga news and controversy" of which I am evidently a part, based on more than a few comments that I read, I have been thinking a lot about the distinctions between public and private lives, between personal and professional ethics, between non-harming and truth-telling, between need-to-know, right-to-know and want-to-know and how difficult it is to surf those tides in an elegant and dignified way now that social media dominates our lives and blogs and Facebook are considered "news sources." And since, as a yoga teacher, the majority of what I am teaching rests on my own experience, my own interaction with, assimilation of and reflection on my life as a yoga student and practitioner, there is no doubt about it-- the line between personal, professional, private and public gets more than a bit blurry most days.
My therapist recently talked to me a bit about archetypes and how, if we function under an archetype like teacher, doctor/healer, or artist, then we run the risk of being consumed by the archetype. (Think of Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin and you get an clear picture of artists who were consumed by an archetype.) We were, of course, talking about me, who lives many hours each week operating under the teacher archetype. So, like the good therapist she is, she was interviewing me about how often I relax that role, drop that mantle and allow myself to not have the answers, to be called on my bullshit, to own up to my frailties, to allow others to counsel me, etc. She asked me pointed questions like:
- When is the last non-yoga related vacation you took?
- Do you have friends who do not do yoga?
- What do you do- really do- for fun?
- Do you write things that you do not share with anyone else?
I am sure you get the point.To make matters worse she used a haunting phrase about a very prominent celebrity who she felt "cannibalized her own life for her fame" and while was met with great success, seemed to have become a somewhat empty shell of a person. My dad often says that a good minsters job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable and it seems that is the role of a good therapist as well. We are knee deep, she and I, in a discussion about how persona and public image can be in service to Self or it can be a detriment. Persona can be so false that it is misleading and downright inaccurate. However, when used skillfully, persona can create a buffer-- a necessary and intelligent boundary so that we are not consumed by the archetypes that so strongly influence our passions and proclivities.
I have long talked about how easy it is to believe our own PR as teachers. I thought about how fun it might be to actually write a bio for a workshop that told the truth. For instance my bio might read: "Christina Sell, known for her sharp, sarcastic and sometimes-hurtful wit, is often fiery to the point of too-intense and opinionated to the point of arrogance. Clear, precise and passionate, she suffers from deep insecurities that often cause her to worry obsessively about what other people think and over-compensate through extreme competence and overwork. She also talks too much."
But no, the bio actually reads something like: "Christina Sell has been practicing yoga since 1991. She is the author of Yoga From the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body Through Yoga and My Body is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness. Christina is the 2012 Art of Asana columnist for Yoga International Magazine and a regular contributor to Origin Magazine. She is a faculty member on Yogaglo, which provides online global access to yogic wisdom. Known for her passion, clarity and creativity, Christina's classes are challenging, inspiring and dedicated to helping people of all ages experience the joys of yoga practice and conscious living." Blah, blah, blah.
So, the thing is that both bios are true. Its not an either-or proposition and that is exactly my point. Truth is each one of us, in our humanity, in our condensed divinity, is both shadow and light. I am certainly not suggesting that we go around making ridiculous self-disclosures and airing our dirty laundry and personal issues publicly in the name of transparency and truth-in-advertising, but I am saying that we have to, as teachers, keep one eye on that shadowy material lest it consume us while we are busy believing our public image and basking in the love that our seat so often affords us.
enough on that tonight. keep the faith.