Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Free to Choose

So I got home late Sunday night after my trip to Tucson, Prescott and then Chattanooga. As always, these kinds of trips leave me with lots of insight and ideas to chew on and digest.  As time continues on and the Anusara saga continues to unravel I find myself with more and more to reflect upon relative to my own goals and aims as a teacher. I have talked to so many students and teachers at various levels of involvement who seem to be working with several themes related to how best to keep studying, practicing and teaching. I find myself in the midst of some soul searching about my own role as a teacher and what I really have to offer, share and contribute.

One thing that I am reviewing for myself is the relationship between High Vision and the dignity that lives in simplicity, humility and authenticity.  And before I go any further, let me be clear that I do not believe these things are by necessity at odds with one another. I think that it is great to have a High Vision and  a Clear Aim and then to ground that all the way down into the daily acts of practice, appointments and so forth that seem to make up the content of life. Once again we are pulling on that thread of context and content so that they exist in integrity with one another. I am big into this. Too much context and we can live in the clouds and in dreams and vision only. Too much content and we run the risk of being consumed by the mundane drudgery of obligations and details. Strike the right balance we can see that our small repetitious acts of humanity are there to serve the deeper urges of the heart and spirit. Okay, great. That is the thing. I am into it.

HOWEVER-- one thing I keep thinking about is a teaching Lee used to give. He said that the solution to financial insecurity wasn't having more money. He also said the answer to self-hatred wasn't self-love. He said the solution to our third dimensional problems was simply referencing ourselves in a place where those dichotomies don't exist. For instance, what if the answer to financial fear was faith?  What if the answer to self-hatred was the recognition that we do not exist as a separate self? He said repeatedly that the answer to a lot of these kinds of problems did not live in their opposite but in getting off the question all together. 


So the thing is that we all want to give up feeling unworthy, right? But its pretty hard to actually give up feeling superior.  We all want to give up feeling different and outcast, but are we ready to give up feeling part of an elite group or belonging to the "in crowd"? We all want to give up feeling afraid, unable and so on but can we part with feeling invincible,  uniquely talented, special and so on? (And before we get worried here, I am not talking about giving up positive self-regard that tells us that sees our worth truly, that knows we are wanted and recognizes our competence and capacity.)  I am simply reminding myself and others that the answer to what plagues us, is not always what it seems. 

And this relates to Big Vision because Big Vision can run the risk of feeding grandiosity and a sense that nothing is actually as bright and shiny as it is supposed to be. I watch it all the time in myself and others these days. I mean, what if we were just to teach hatha yoga, not the "most sophisticated and elegant method of yoga ever"? What if we just had some good friends we were walking the path with, not "a world-wide community of like-minded and like-hearted people who were both tight-knot and loosely bound"? What if we just helped people with the postures and didn't try to "facilitate a heart-opening, inspirational encounter with the Essential Self through the expression and physicalization of virtue"? What if we just reminded ourselves and others that we have a body and there is something more and we simply looked for signs and experiences of the "something more" in our lives without having to claim superior knowledge of the ins and outs of thousands of years of philosophy?

I mean, what, god forbid, if we were ordinary? 

Now, don't get me wrong, there are times to drink from the well of inspiration, and Vision. There are times to allow the veils to come apart, to thin from the experience of the deep sanctity that lives at the hart of these teachings and these practices. We are, after all, free to live into any story we chose about the thing we call our life. One of my favorite teachings from Werner Erhardt is that that "human beings are meaning making machines" so that means we can give whatever meaning we choose to the challenges and triumphs our lives. We really can live a larger story than our circumstances. And anyone who knows me knows that I prefer to see myself as Arjuna on the battlefield than as victim of misfortune. So I am all for that. I really am. I am, as I say so often, into it.

All I am saying is that I also think we have to keep an eye on the opposite side of that tactic so as not fall into a different trap. We have to stay connected to the ordinary, to our humanity, to the simplicity of life as it is. 

All right, anyway- more could be said, but this is long enough. 

A moment for shameless promotions-- I am offering a webinar on sequencing. Info below--

Pinnacle Poses in Practice and in Classes:Sequencing Strategies Webinar with Christina Sell 

Dates: June 6, June 13, June 20
Time: 5:00-6:15 pm Central Time
Tuition: $99

All sessions will be recorded live and will be available for download for registered participants so it is not necessary to attend the webinar live.

*Have you been teaching and practicing from a basic template of postures for a while?
*Would you like help exploring new and creative approaches toward the postures?
*Would you like help sequencing classes for a variety of levels so that every student can be successful?
*Do you want help deepening your knowledge of the postures and how they relate to one another?

This 3-part webinar is will explore several sequences developed by Christina Sell and will examine some of the underlying principles behind sequencing toward a pinnacle postures. This is a perfect webinar for experienced students and teachers who want to be more precise in their practice and teaching and learn practical strategies for working more effectively. Christina, known for her clarity, precision and creativity will walk through each sequence and discuss various approaches and adaptations to the sequences given. Students will be provided with a handout of the sequences for note taking and personal reference. A text function is enabled throughout the call so students will be able to ask questions during the presentation.

Course Outline:
Week #1- Overview of Basic Sequencing Strategies; The General Template; Decoding Light on Yoga
Week #2- Back bend emphasis- Working toward Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana
Week #3- Twist Emphasis-- Working Toward Pasasana


Materials Required- Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar


Emily Perry said...

I love it, Christina. Beautifully eloquent as usual. Thank you.

Dina said...

Yes! Thank you again for clear articulation and insight. I am really interested in the idea of the simplicity of letting the asanas speak for themselves and only offering up strong heart themes and inspirational ideas when I feel the urge to do so. Lately I think that always trying to teach something mind blowing or heart opening can possibly discount a student's own inner relationship to the Divine, Consciousness etc. and possibly even his/her intelligence. As a practitioner it also sets us up for disappointment in that if we come to class always expecting something "radical" then if that day it doesn't happen we are potentially left with disappointment or feeling like we're not "getting it". Of course that can be a great place to contemplate or do deeper work to parse out what going on internally but that's a different idea entirely. Basically what I'm valuing in your post is I am all for the celebration of ordinary as a valid place on the yoga mat. Can't wait to practice with you in Jersey in two weeks! Thanks again.

Dina said...

Sorry actually next weekend - yay!

Kassandra said...

To choose to be ordinary is a radical act. It's a choice many sages have made willingly.

Amy Elias, MS said...

Yes, we do no thave to be the "-lebrity" anything except the EXPERTLEBRITY on ourselves. Changing The World is more about Being You. Then you can love life. and then...you can Change The World.
Christina you add to the value by voicing the wisdom, the integrity and the passion of being a whole human..in every fractal piece of it. Glad you are part of my prismatic. May we color with world with our authentic soulful truth.

Christina Sell said...

Thanks, Emily.

I so agree, Dina. The thing about yoga practice is that it is a very ordinary thing and to me the primary power is in the repetition over the long haul, not the big moments. Like peak experiences are great, but we have got to learn to live at sea level, you know? Looking forward to our time together also.

Kassandra- YES! I had a teacher who said we need to be extra-ordinary!

Thanks so much Amy. I appreciate your perspectives and am glad you are part of my prism also! Amen.

KendraHodgson said...

Thank you Christina. *Sigh of relief* You articulate so many things I have been contemplating lately. I have been thinking about the moments in the every day that are poignant and authentic, that can so often be overlooked when one is on a quest for 'greatness' or 'the highest'... I have been wondering if, perhaps, greatness and the highest are actually not something to strive for but to simply find by opening my eyes with humility and a willingness to see, to truly see, what is before me -- all of it, the good and the more ... Thank you for your words, and for sharing pieces of your unfolding ...

Caroline Sereda said...

To be Spiritual is to be Human. This is one of the highest aims I can imagine. Thanks Christina for the words that keep moving

Olga Rasmussen said...

One of your most powerful and thought-provoking posts. I have been having similar thoughts!

With love and blessings,