Monday, May 7, 2012

Caterpillars and Butterflies

It seems these days I am often writing this blog  on a plane coming home from some teaching gig. This usually means that I am a bit tired and yet also full of insights, reflections and observations from wherever I have just been. Today is no different from that typical scenario--I am on a plane coming home from Los Angeles where I spent the weekend teaching at Yogaglo. Amy Ippoliti came to town on Saturday night and we had a chance to spend a lot of time together on Sunday, which even included teaching a 90-minute asana class together on our favorite topic “Radical Self-Esteem.”
It was pretty fun to spend time with her since the last time we saw each other was in August and a whole lot has happened since then. Of course, in the midst of all that we have been on the phone a lot, on email tons and in sometimes near-constant text exchanges but even still, getting together, face-to-face is always fun. I love how social media and modern technology helps us bridge the gap of distance and stay connected to the mundane and profound details of our personal, communal and professional lives, I really do. But when it comes down to it,  seeing friends and colleagues in person holds such power and sweetness. (Of course, it holds all the other stuff more profoundly too, because if conflict arises in person, its a whole different deal then it is is to zip off a snarky email, a trite comment or just “unplug” from it all. But I digress. That’s another post for another day.)
So getting to hang out with Amy was a real highlight of my time in California. I also had a really amazing meal last night with Amy and Tracy and Noah Maze in celebration of   my 43rd birthday, which is today. Typical of so many restaurants in LA, the food was fantastic,  the atmosphere very “hip” (although yours truly had not planned on going out for a nice LA dinner and arrived to said restaurant in jeans, a t-shirt and my chaco flip-flops, which even for LA was a tad casual...oh well. ) and most importantly, the company was supreme.
Like I have mentioned on this blog before, I think there is a ton of dysfunction still getting sorted out in the Anusara community  and in the recently-resigned from Anusara Yoga community and I respect the different ways and means people have for working through their particular feelings and perspectives  relative to that saga, so my upcoming expression is not a “get over it, look for the silver lining" kind of expression of gratitude. Everyone has their process and expressing the difficult aspects of one’s experience does not mean that they are discounting the beautiful. They live together, different sides of the same coin and each with their valid truths, vantage points and importance.  
So having said all that, I personally  have been reflecting recently on how happy I am that so many of the friendships I made in Anusara yoga  are still in place.  I count that as one of the many things I am grateful for from my experience in Anusara yoga. Obviously, some relationships didn’t weather the shift or at least, at this point in time, they are not as strong as they once were, but all in all, the people I cared most about before I resigned are still close by my side and true to the bond we forged and shared for years now. 
A while back someone forwarded me a Facebook thread that mentioned how I wasn’t “taking a stand” about my feelings about John Friend and his behavior and it was suggested that I was still being “politically correct” and so on. I found the conversation interesting on a lot of levels for a lot of reasons:

I feel like resigning in October  2012 was a stand about where I was in my heart compared to where I saw the company and its leadership. Kind of an “actions speak” kind of statement. just saying.

Big long discussions about John Friend and his behavior, ethics and so on are not interesting to me. My dad taught me a legal term recently: Res ipsa locator and it means, according to my understanding of what he said, “the thing speaks for itself.” What I mean by using that phrase in this post is to suggest that  anything I might say is already there to be seen by anyone who wants to see it. The good, the bad, the wonderful, the problematic, the blessing, the curse, so to speak. (Okay,  so “curse”  sounds a bit dramatic. let that one be creative flair, okay?)

And, along those lines, while I think its important to have the reflective mirror of shared and expressed experience, I think the important work right now for everyone to do  is to take responsibility  for their perceptions, perspectives and decisions and to claim them and validate them for themselves. There is something key about that right now as I see it. So much healing and pattern reversal can happen if we can really know and claim our truth as our  own.

At the time I resigned, it was considered radical “testimony” to suggest on my blog that I was not always a fan of heart themes and that I actually thought the training protocols could be improved upon. At that time, I got so many emails and phone calls from my still-certified friends who found my posts to be upsetting. How far we have come from October to where what was once scandalous is now “politically correct!” (And, so we are clear, I don't actually deny the "She's being politically correct" observation. There is certainly truth in that for various reasons.)

I am a strange mix of evangelical minister and libertarian politics. The thing is that I am in no way shy about preaching the gospel according to the way I see it. Any of you who have been around me for any period of time know this to be true. Give me a platform,  a moment and a microphone and I am in my happy place preaching the good word. But when you get down to it, I prefer to preach to the choir rather than to convert the masses. So for me, the conversation of convincing people of staying or going or the rightness of my choice and the wrongness of their choices and all that is just not me.  I am the same way as a yoga teacher- once someone is in my class and into yoga, I am a great teacher for them but I have never been one of those people who goes around telling everyone they should do yoga or how much they will love it or how much it will change their life. Its not bad that other people are, it's just not me.
I am as opinionated a person as they come (anyone who knows me also knows this about me) and yet I am also plagued/blessed with the ability to see things from many angles. So those dynamics all live inside me and sometimes confuse people. How can someone so opinionated and self-righteous and preachy actually understand where other people are coming from and let it be and not speak up about it? I am not saying all these dynamics are perfectly balanced within me but I am not really an “activist”  by nature. And other people really are. One is not right or wrong, mind you, I am just musing about my nature. (My blog, my birthday, my nature... like that.)

The fourth thing is that I really love a lot of people who are remaining in the organization and who are working tirelessly for change and while one person suggested I am “kissing ass” and another suggested “I am just trying to stay relevant” I believe I  am simply doing my best to uphold my end of our friendship in the best way I know how.    

Which brings me to the fifth thing which is kind of where I started and that is that I believe my friendships in the community are at the source of what sustained me in Anusara yoga for so long and are at the source of many of the transformational boons I feel like I accessed as a student and teacher of that system. Look, my asana practice blossomed under John’s guidance, it really did. And my knowledge of functional biomechanics will always be informed by the UPA’s as he outlined them (informed by, not limited to or identical to, mind you) and yet, he is not the only good asana teacher I have had and he is not the only person who has taught me great biomechanics. And as the system grew my emphasis and orientation moved more away from him and more towards a mandala of good friends, colleagues and students through whom the teachings came to me quite profoundly. 

I found out in our Myers-Briggs type analysis work that my type is actually organized around relationships so this makes perfect sense that preserving my relationships during this time is crucial for my well-being. Other types are organized around ideals and so “seeing justice served” might motivate these folks more than me. Competence governs other types so “weeding out dysfunctional power differentials that compromise the teachings and the teachers” might be important to others. 
The work with types is so enlightening because I think, as much as so many of us value difference and individuality, the reality is that we do not have lots of training in what that really means and how to do it functionally in a way that does not threaten our own sense of autonomy and validity. It can be SO easy to say “We are all different expressions of Grace” and still unconsciously assume people think, feel, respond and perceive the world just  like us or that at least, they should. Again, I am not saying that it’s conscious, just that I think that it’s a common phenomena, even if we intellectually value differences among us. It’s a serious edge to walk especially in the midst of no-dual, unity-based philosophies.
 At any rate, as time passes these are my thoughts and I am happy to still be in collaborative relationships with my friends and to be forging new alliances and opportunities to learn and practice the teachings. I can’t help but feel we are on the brink of  (or in the midst of) a very profound paradigm shift in the way yoga is learned, practiced and taught. I had a mentor years ago who talked about paradigm shifts more typically arising as paradigm collisions and that the process of upscaling our awareness isn’t necessarily gradual, graceful or easy. Generally, she suggested, it's the opposite.
The age-old and over-used metaphor of the caterpillar becoming the butterfly comes to mind here. Really, we are just fine as the caterpillar. And we are lovely and beautiful as the butterfly. What’s tricky is the phase in between caterpillar and butterfly where we are neither one or the other. Clearly,  we are no longer what we were. Certainly, we are not yet what we will become. And if someone were to look inside the chrysalis at this point, we would appear to the outside eye to be all mushy and worthless. Yes, to me the in-between state is what is interesting to consider because if we look upon ourselves with an outside eye and make outside assumptions about our current “messy” inner state, we are missing the profound truth of the moment: We are in a process of alchemical change. We are being made new. We are not who were were. We are not yet who we will become. The process can not be tricked, rushed, robbed or otherwise interrupted but must be seen through to the end to reap the full rewards of its inherent Possibility.
So important that we have friends to hold space for us while we are in the chrysalis. My best friends are the ones who stand guard over me during this time.  They keep the predators from attacking me and they help keep the germs from contaminating me so that the  process can complete me and I can complete the process. My best friends are not forcing me out of the chrysalis before I am ready, but they are instead,  cheering me on so that I can do what it takes to shift states. And lest we get sentimental here, its not always a hands-off thing because sometimes the germs are in our own thought processes and behaviors and our guardian needs to speak some painful, necessary truths that do not feel kind in the moment but serve the larger process at work.

Anyway, that's it for now. Onward with my birthday day. Here are a few pics from our birthday meal last night.


Leslie Salmon said...

Love the chrysalis analogy. Happy Birthday (again), and enjoy your day!

Marcia Tullous said...

So right on, Christina! I too feel this is a great time of change and mentioned this in my most recent blog post. I decided to let go of my Anuara-inspired status and of pursuing certification so I too am in the middle place and am enjoying it. The middle place is all about the art and practice of being still. There is so much to learn in the quiet space in between.

Love and Birthday Blessings,

Mark F said...

res ipsa, byrne v. boadle!