Friday, August 24, 2012

in medias res

Well, This was Day 3 in Tucson. After 2 days of Teacher Training we began a weekend asana intensive. The intensive will go through Sunday and then we finish the six days with a day of TT on Monday. This is a new format that we are experimenting with and so far I  like it. We used the part asana intensive, part TT format in both Sydney and Singapore this summer and it worked well for me there also. I found that the students didn't get bogged down in the analysis mode of TT so much and the asana was more focused and deliberate because the presence of "teacher training mindset" was there. And for me, I was less tired that I usually am after six days of teaching which makes me think that mixing the presentation a bit might suit me well.

Darren started off with some preliminary comments and when he passed the baton to me for the opening puja I talked a little about something I remembered from High School English class called in medias res. In medias res literally means "into the middle of things" or "into the midst of things" and is also a literary device that begins a story at the midpoint of a story, not at the beginning. I shared that I believe as yogi's we are always in medias res in some way. As both students and teachers we have to make our peace with the fact that there is no first lesson that paves the way perfectly. Wherever we start is going to mean that we are missing other information that we are going to need eventually. And really, the practice was there before us and it is going to be around after us and so we are, quite literally, in the middle of things. It's a 5000 year old tradition being parceled out 60-90 minutes at a time and so really, how can it be any else but in medias res?

I talked about how some of the people in the room are meeting us for the first time and we are in the middle of a week of teacher training. And some people in the room are joining us for TT this week which is placed in the middle of a 200-hour course, 100-hours of which has been completed. And some people started the 200-hours with us in January but that course is in the middle of a 5-year conversation of team teaching that Darren and I have been having. And he and I started teaching together 5 years ago, in the middle of our time as Anusara yoga teachers. And so on.

As students we enter the stream of the teaching at the point in which we enter, which is our beginning but certainly in the "middle of the story" of our teacher, a system, a school, a studio, our lives, and the tradition itself.  Since we enter mid-stream, we have to find a way to stay afloat until we learn to navigate the currents skillfully. Much of staying afloat mid-stream involves developing a certain measure of comfort with what is quite often an uncomfortable process. Manorama once said that "learning is a humbling, excrutiating and ego-bashing process" and I loved that teaching. (Of course that is the kind of thing I find inspiring, but I digress...)  Learning is not only humbling, excrutiating and ego-bashing, of course. Learning is also empowering, enlivening and inspiring. But I thought there was an honest forewarning there which I appreciated since I think "forewarned is forearmed." For instance, if I expect the process of learning to be easy-going, empowering, and uplifting at every turn, I am quite unprepared for the ways it is inevitably and necessarily  going to kick my ass along the way.

Since this is a weekend titled The Alchemy of Flow and Form Darren shared that he started with Flow and later learned about Form. I shared that I started with Form and learned Flow later. I made a joke about how I have observed the following conversations regarding flow and form from people over the years:

From the people who started with Flow: "I can not imagine starting with all those details. I mean, it's just so advanced and tedious to work that way. As a beginner I needed to move and breathe and just feel myself in my body and if I had had to listen to all that information I would have stayed in my head and never even "got" what yoga is all about. I mean, I am so glad I learned alignment later because it really helped me advance my practice and heal up some injuries but no way could I have endured all of those lessons in the beginning. I mean they hardly even breathe, those people! Alignment is for the advanced student."

From the people who started with Form:  "I do not even understand how people can do flow when they do not even know what they are doing or how to keep themselves safe! I mean how do you even know what to do without the explanations and the demonstrations and how can you learn by simply moving and breathing? I mean, I am so happy I learned vinyasa later in my practice because it really helped me feel fluid inside my body and showed me how to experience asana in a dynamic, lyrical way that made me so strong but how in the world people expect to stay safe and get knowledgeable from that practice is beside me. Vinyasa is for the  advanced student."

As I have great students and good friends in both camps and because I talk to A LOT of people in a year about yoga, I have come to see that each side is true. Wherever we enter the stream is great and whatever jumping off point we have  will have an up and a down side, a problem to be solved as well as a solution or a salve to share.

So, we just jumped into the middle of things and made our way through some basic postures, some strong work and some detailed alignment to pave the way for deeper postures and stronger vinyasas to come. We have an amazingly curious, open and intelligent group of people here this weekend and for the week of teacher training. It is a very interesting conversation so far this week and way too much to cover here but I am brimming with thoughts about topics such as: School v. System, the responsibility of the teacher v. the responsibility of the student, growing up and the art of learning discernment on the path, universal principles v. specific applications, teaching principles v. teaching postures, teaching the subject v. teaching the person, tradition v. synthesis, magical thinking in yoga and how it has to stop and so many other things. I have like a year of blog entries brewing at this point. I even wonder if there is a blog entry or even a book in there about taking the "versus" out of each of those apparent dichotomies so that we can, as a community,  explore where the third option is.

This, in fact is a huge inquiry I am in right now. I feel that we are in a big paradigm shift -- I see it in yoga but my friends who do not have anything to do with yoga are experiencing it in their respective spheres. Carl Jung talked about enantiodromia, a swinging between extremes that can occur in the psyche and also in the culture. I think he got it from Heraclitus and the Greeks. (Dr. Anne Schultz might know....that is my sister, BTW, the Greek Philosophy Professor.) As I understand the idea, a certain tendency or pattern would eventually build up its opposite psychic force within us and demand a swing away from tendency to the opposite and we would act out that side of the pendulum  until some reconciliation happened where we found the place of the integrated middle. (There it is again, the middle of things!)

 This is the Third Option I am talking about, the shifted paradigm where not just the opposite is being compulsively acted out, but where, in fact, a new solution has arisen. Of course the fine print of the new paradigm is that while it resolves the old problems it begins to pave the way for the new  problems of the new paradigm which eventually will create an opposite and a reconciliation and a new paradigm and new problems and new opposites and so on and so on and so on.  These cycles exist within us psychically as well as in the outer life of names and forms. So we are in some process, I believe, as a community of yogi's of birthing this new paradigm where tradition may not need to fight with innovation, where poses and principles can live in harmony, where yoga can be offered and not owned, etc. I think we are currently in a process of finding a meaningful third option as a way to go forward authentically and intelligently.

Okay, well, see there's a lot on my mind.

Kelly comes tomorrow to join us for the rest of the time and I am excited to see him. He has been i Oregon visiting his family  and in Prescott visiting friends and treating his patients there. He will be offering some treatments on the breaks here in Tucson also, which is great.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend at Home

Well, it's been a great week this week and I am so thrilled to be looking at another weekend at home before I head out to Tucson for the first week of a new cycle of Teacher Training. I am also really excited to be offering some classes locally this weekend. On Sunday from 1-4 you can find me at Breath and Body Yoga with a Teacher's Session on "Themes, Metaphors and Teachable Moments" which I am looking forward to. Last I heard we had 6 or 7 more slots open for that so if you want to come, contact Desirae at Breath and Body Yoga.

It's funny because I have written about the pros and cons of themes a lot since I resigned my license to teach Anusara Yoga and I think people really take me the wrong way when I say I do not think they are essential. I have people writing me and talking to me telling me things like "I know that you don't think they are important but....." All I have been saying is that I think "theme" is just not the same as "inspiring spiritual connection to the work in front of you". When I say I could care less about whether a class has a theme or not what I mean is that I do not think a one-or-two-feeling-based-words-linked-to-a -key action-loosely-tied-to-the-"Grand Purposes of Yoga"-and-woven-throughout-an -entire-90-minute- class is the only way to bring inspiration to the class, to deliver a potent teaching or to give meaning to the work at hand. I think it is one way that sometimes works.  I think there are other ways to  bring inspiration into the class and so as I have considered these various ways, I am reluctant to keep calling all of that "themes".  For sure, I am happy to teach The Art of Themes but for me I see  themes as just one tool in the tool box.

Like I said, there are many other ways to deepen the implicit connection between asana and the Teachings because asana is simply embodied philosophy- one doesn't need to add a lot to a class or to embellish in some fancy way, they simply need to draw out the implicit relationship that already exists in the postures. And  the word "theme" has become so overused it has even become a verb. "(She did such a good job theming" or "I need to work on my theming.") So to be clear- Christina Sell still believes in delivering a spiritually potent and inspiring message when she teaches. She just does not believe that has to be reduced down to a feeling word, tied to a key action and peppered ongoingly throughout a class.

And before I close out this little afternoon rant of mine, I have to add one more thing-- I believe in delivering that kind of message because that is what I am actually interested in when I am not teaching. I do not care about "themes" as something that belongs only to the realm of teaching yoga. I do not care about them separate  from what my own passion in life is-- which is to look for the  Teaching everywhere, to find  the Guru in each situation and to mine my life experiences for clues about how to more profoundly participate in the Mystery that lives in the Heart of Reality itself. See, the thing is that I am into that, teaching yoga or not. It is not like I  put on a pair of high-priced yoga clothes and suddenly start looking for deeper meaning and ways to communicate my insight to others.  No, I put on my high-priced yoga clothes, step in front a room and do my best to articulate my ongoing inquiry and insight with the high hope that my process might be educational, inspirational, meaningful or even entertaining  for someone else walking the Path. I am into it. Try to get me to stop. Put me in a cold straight asana class and I will see the metaphors. Place me on a mountaintop and I will tell you how it relates to my life. After a difficult conversation, I can tell you how it was a perfect chance to practice my principles. See, its not some separate thing.

To me part of being inspiring as a teacher rests on the assumption that we are in a conscious process of engaging the teachings in an inspiring and authentic manner. If that is happening, well, the rest is a skill set of tools, techniques and so on. Tools, techniques and all that can be learned but it will all seem flat, empty and forced if the actual internal process isn't going on.

And, people are inspiring for different reasons- some people inspire me with their intellect, others with their physical prowess, some with their artistic mastery, others with their compassion and understanding, others with their articulation skills and so on. Being "inspiring" as a teacher has more avenues of expression that being able to "weave a theme" in my opinion.

Having said all that, I do have some good tricks of the trade for creating themes, presenting them and weaving them into classes. I also have some good exercises I like to share about how to make use of the already potent power of the postures and to capitalize on the poses themselves as sources of inspirational commentary. So that's all on the agenda for Sunday.

After a short break I am going to head down to Bfree for my foray into the Wide Wonderful World of Vinyasa to be the guest teacher for their Level 3 Vinyasa class. I always play my "guest teacher card" and lobby to do it group practice style AND for 120 minutes instead of 90. Shelby always indulges me and so we have a sweaty, fun, and delightful time on those evenings. I always say I am not really a vinyasa teacher but I have this alter ego who loves to teach vinyasa occasionally. She gets to come out and play on these Sunday night practices which is so much fun for me. I love having the opportunity to lead that class. I am really looking forward to it.

Well, more could be said, but that is about it for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Heat Retreat

I spent the weekend at the 6th Annual Bikram Yoga Women's Retreat which was held here in Texas at the awesome Barton Creek Resort and Spa.  The bulk of the retreat was taught by Rajashree Choudhury and Emmy Cleaves and concluded with the Texas State Yoga Asana Competition. On Friday afternoon we had a women's panel and I was invited to speak on the panel. So, mostly I got to be a participant in the intensive and soak up the experience, which was great fun for me.

The weekend started on Thursday at lunch at the Four Seasons. (I thought this was great fun, having only been to the Four Seasons in Austin 15 years ago for a company function. Kelly and I were working as wilderness instructors at the time and we drove up to valet parking in our 93 Toyota Pickup truck that we have basically been living out of and all these water bottles feel out onto the sidewalk. Let's just say it was a very classy moment. But I digress.)  All of the women on the panel and several other current and past champions were there with Rajashree and Emmy. I was immediately struck by the dedication and passion everyone had for their practice, for Bikram Yoga specifically and also for the process of learning and teaching in general.  Bikram Yoga is an intense practice so it definitely attracts people who are intense, focused and committed. I also believe that the intensity of the practice would cultivate those very things in someone if they didn't have them developed to begin with. You either learn how to focus or you, as the saying goes, "can't take the heat".

And I really do not mean the heat of the hot room only. One topic that became clear to me on the women's panel is that every system of yoga practice  has some kind of heat involved. After all, at the heart of every practice lives  the work to generate enough intensity that outdated patterns (samskaras) are burned away. We call that work and the energy that fuels it  tapas. The idea is that we have patterns or seeds or samskaras at the different levels of our being that are unconsciously deciding for us how we will live our lives. Some of these patterns we call genetics, some we call body-type, some we call cultural-conditioning, some we call family-of-origin-dynamics, some we call personality, some we call our beliefs and so on. So, to use a very simple metaphor here, the idea for us who practice yoga is that,  a seed, when watered will sprout and grow,  whereas  seed that is burnt will no longer be able to germinate or  produce offspring. The  practices, in a very general way,  are about watering and nurturing those positive, spiritually-affirming seeds and burning- with tapas- those dysfunctional seeds that generate the false ideas of self. (This is a VERY GENERAL explanation, so philosophers out there cut me a little slack, please.)

Bikram Yoga has a lot of heat besides the hot room as I see it, all of which can help generate tapas and help burn away what stands in the way of being a focused and committed person. The classroom has a strict protocol, all tools to help cultivate discipline in the practitioner: Be silent when you enter. Stay in the room the entire 90 minutes. Focus on yourself in the mirror. Do the same postures every day. Match the teacher's words to your body and move as part of the group. Don't wiggle, don't fidget, don't wipe. Stand still between postures. Drink water between postures. Breath normally through  your nose. Sit down if you need to but don't just collapse in child's pose, leave the room, etc.--simply sit and look in the mirror until you can join the group again. Only go as deep into a posture as you can maintain the optimal form outlined by the instructor. Don't add your own embellishments to the routine. Ask questions after class. And so on.

And sure, every good thing about any yoga practice also has its negative side, but that is the case in every system of practice. For instance, practice the same thing every day and you can become mechanical. However, practice something different every day and you might never actually go deep enough into the postures to actually understand where your blocks and misunderstandings reside. Being aware of the downsides to an approach is half the battle because knowing there is a tendency  toward something gives you a head start on not succumbing to the tendency. As far as I can tell, every system has upsides and downsides, just like every person has great strengths as well as an achilles heel, that, if not addressed will thwart their best efforts every time. But that is another entry for another day, I suppose.

So you can look at that list of do's and don't as rigid rules that spell out some kind of perfectionistic, Type-A yoga experience or you can look at them simply as the "rules or guidelines of engagement" for that particular activity. In this way, the do's and don'ts become boundaries and structures in which to generate the tapas that can become fuel  for our own transformation. For instance, if we start to get conscious of how much we habitually wiggle,  squirm and "blow of steam" between postures and we learn to stand still without fidgeting, at first we will feel very uncomfortable because it will require effort (tapas) to restrain the habitual tendency of wiggling. Over time, however, if we can stay with the "heat" of the initial discomfort,  we can build our energetic capacity and the steam we used to blow off unconsciously now becomes ours to use consciously and we leave practice with more energy for our lives.  And in standing still in the body in the midst of outer heat, sweat dripping and in the presence of the inner urge to do otherwise, over time we are delivered to a place of inner stillness and equipoise. You wouldn't think it, but that is the power of a structured, discipline and uncomfortable environment. (And it comes in glimpses, little by little, and is built over a long period of time.)

So, even in a non-heated asana class, you can find ways that heat is created and utilized. For instance, in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga  they use movement and ujayi pranayama to create the heat in the body but also, think of all the restraints given in that method that help focus the practitoner away from habit and into disciplined focus:  the gaze is directed through drishti, the sound of ujayi is to be followed, the postures are the same every day, the progress is measured through achieving the preceding posture in a sequence before being assigned the next one, the practice hall is quiet, etc. Or Iyengar Yoga. Obviously there is no outer heat and in their system there us very little jumping around. Yet Iyengar Yoga  is an intense, focused and "hot" environment,  even though many times they are trying not to heat the body and are in fact trying to keep the physical body cool. But the intensity of introspection required to stay with their practice is certainly going to require, and therefore cultivate, tapas. And lest we get narrow-minded about what I mean by intensity, put an athletic yogi into some restorative postures and ask someone who is used to moving around a lot to stay still and that is going to "cook" them in a certain way.

On some level, what we are talking about is maturing and deepening our relationship to both physical and psychological discomfort so that we can engage it more consciously and transform our habitual responses toward what we most truly want rather than what our patterns are deciding for us. (And I am not suggesting tolerating abuse, injurious action or anything that goes against common sense.) And hey, it's not about hot-room-yoga or not-hot-room or any of that surface-level discussion, in my mind. All those things are simply different means to cultivate discipline. I believe we can live great lives in alignment with our deeper purposes and never do hot yoga or without ever doing a vinyasa or a restorative posture or whatever.  But I do not believe we can have what we most desire and live the truth of what we are actually here for without focus, discipline, commitment and perseverance. So, to me this whole entry is about how the practices we do and the way we do them helps us cultivate those larger qualities. It is not an on-the-surface thing and I think it is so important for us as modern yogis to look much deeper than the surface of what we are doing and to become very reflective about our practices. (Small sermon, there. Thanks for listening.)

At any rate, after lunch we had class with Afton, the current National Campion and one of my favorite teachers at PURE Bikram Yoga in Austin. She did a great job opening the event with the perfect amount of intensity and humor to set everyone at their ease and get them ready for the rest of the weekend. We ate dinner and then had an opening reception together. And so that was day 1.  Big day.

So, the next day opened bright and early with a meditation session and asana class with Rajashree, the women's panel and then advanced class with Emmy. More definitely needs to be said about each of them but this entry has gone on long enough so I will follow up with that tomorrow or the next day.

Enjoy the heat, whatever you are doing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A few updates and thoughts on future offerings

So I have spent the last week at home implementing a new project management system which I am loving! And as I work through my to-list I am finding oh-so-satisfying to make things off my list with a little electronic check mark. (I am sure this is some predictable personality trait of mine.) I spent this morning working on the next Yoga International article which will be my final article as the 2012 Art of Asana columnist. it has been a great opportunity for me to write and to work with the great editorial staff on that magazine. And who know, you could actually get paid to write about yoga postures? Anyway, I got my rough draft done which means the next step is the editor's and then back to me and then back to her and so on and so on. Good times. Always something to learn about getting ideas into words and onto paper. What a craft.

Also, we are about to close registration on the Upcoming Intensive in San Marcos with me, Darren Rhodes and Mary Young. We have maybe 2 spots open, depending on who confirms their registration with me and/or lays their money on the table in the next few days. I am so excited about this program. Darren, who hardly ever gets on a plane to teach anymore,   is coming to teach with me in Texas which is so fun since so many of the dreams of School of Yoga- San Marcos were born in the intensive programs we taught together in Arizona. And Mary has been teaching and traveling throughout Europe this summer and will join us to facilitate a very unique  synthesis of mythology, spiritual growth and personal inquiry. I am totally psyched. It is a very unique program. 

I have been thinking a lot about intensives and how they differ from a regular workshop. First of all, in my world view, an intensive is, as the name implies, a bit intense. Different from the "buffet style" approach to workshops, where the student can pick and chose among the different sessions, the intensive format asks the teachers and the students to commit to a full course of study together. Everyone begins and ends together, which makes for a progressive and unified experience both as a presenter and as a participant. Now, I get it that for  the average weekend workshop, it is not always possible for everyone to do the whole thing and I this is not to criticize anyone who make it to one session and not the whole thing. I also understand that not every session in a weekend is appropriate for every student and I have no problem with that. Some is always better than none. I am simply saying that an intensive asks for a major commitment to a process which increases the likelihood that what we 
receive from the process- due to our increased commitment--is more major.

I learned a lot of yoga in this format and so I am really excited to be steering my teaching work more and more in this direction. You will see most of the programs in San Marcos offered this way as well as a great Intensive offered this winter in Philadelphia at Dhyana Yoga and this spring in St. Louis at Southtown Yoga.  Keep your eyes out for other offerings.  

These days I am all about exploring new ways to offer the teachings that create sane, grounded and profound experiences. From intensives to webinars, I am looking to harvest the best of what I have always done and craft some new avenues of expression that might better serve. It's a very fertile time, that is for sure.  

For those of you looking ahead into September I wanted to give you a head's up about the Sequencing Webinar that I have planned. Part 1 was a great success and so we are moving ahead with part 2, by popular demand (and because I had so much fun "talking poses" once a week.) If you didn't do Part 1, you can do it by recording and still join in for Part 2. All the sessions are recorded so live attendance is not mandatory. 

Sequencing Strategies, Part Two: A Webinar Series with Christina Sell

Dates- Tuesdays, September 4- October 9
Time- 10:00-11:00 am Central
Tuition- $150

Prerequisite- Since Sequencing Strategies Part 2 builds progressively on concepts explored in Part 1, completion of Sequencing Strategies Part One- Pinnacle Poses is required.
Part 1 was recorded in its entirety and can be purchased by clicking here- ( 

Or for information about the sequencing webinar Part 1, please contact Christina Sell directly at

  • All session are recorded live and recordings are available for listening later. 
  • Live attendance is not required or necessary. 
  • The recordings will be available for at least 90 days following the completion of the webinar. 
  • Unfortunately, the recordings are not downloadable.

Course Description:

Sequencing Strategies Part Two will work with a basic template of 20 Level 1 postures and explore how to take the basic potpourri template and expand them into several different classes for different levels.

We will explore how one sequence can give birth to an endless variety of presentations by looking deeper at the lineage of postures through the repetition of shape and key actions.

We will explore the presentation of the sequences in greater detail in Part 2 by touching on key teaching methodologies needed to bring intelligent sequencing to life in inspiring and dynamic ways such as: personal presence, active command language, the concsious use of metaphor and themes, integrating alignment into vinaysa-style classes, how to offer compelling demonstrations, how to provide modifications though progressive presentation of asana and much more.

Students will have access of an online discussion group to ask Christina questions and to share ideas, insights and wisdom throughout the course.

Students will receive a handout/workbook designed to help them integrate the material covered in the course.

Students will receive homework assignments to deepen their learning and to explore the concepts presented in the webinar in their personal teaching circumstances. Every effort will be made to help people bring these teachings to life authentically and effectively.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Big Week

Well, it has been a big week for me being home. I have had a chance to settle in, sleep a lot, do a lot of asana and also make some serious headway on new projects and plans. Another fun thing this week is that Elena and I started our webinar called The Yoga of Shifting. It was so fun to have a chance to teach together again. The Yoga of Shifting is about just that-- Shifting.

Several years ago, Elena and I started a dream business together called Yoga Convo. Elena and I met in 2002 in Utah at Inner Harmony in what I fondly remember as the Golden Years of Anusara Yoga. Elena and I met and connected toward the end of the week there and managed to stay in touch a bit in the year that followed. The next year, we decided to room together and we have been like sisters ever since. As much as we share a love for the  practice of yoga asana, we have always connected more on the inner work of yoga and on the ways we were managing-to greater and lesser degrees of success and elegance- to live the teachings. Over the years, we have discussed our inner lives on the phone, via text messages, over dinners, visits and on yoga retreat and so on. I know, no matter what is going on, I can call elena and get a nonjudgmental, understanding kick-in-the ass. And I do my best to do the same for her.

There is a little funny backstory about how we ended up roommates that has to do with first impressions, cliques and our own journey through those themes in order to get beneath the surfaces of our personalities and into the the deeper aspects of sharing, but that is a story for another day. Suffice it to say that you are never to young to feel like you are in high school all over again!

At any rate, we dreamed up an idea about opening up a conversation about "off the matt" topics that we are interested in and sharing the conversation with other like-minded folks on the journey of awakening. We made our first video about the project (see above) in October of 2010 and here we are now, in the first week of a webinar on the very topics we had dreamed about.

In fact, its very cool to say it like that because that was a huge part of where  we started the webinar was talking about what primary areas we wanted to shift and to dare to dream a bit about what the "shifted state" would be like. Elena is sharing so many great techniques and principles from the Handel Group and I am chiming in with my own insights from similar process-oriented work to give both practical and theoretical tools for living more consciously. 

The thing to me about this kind of "dream work" (different than the dream work of actually working with the dreams one has when they sleep!) is that is so fascinating to watch all that comes up for us when posed with the question- "What do you really want for yourself?" As yogi's we get to sort out the dynamic interplay between "letting go and letting God and allowing the Universe to bring us its surprises" with the goal-setting, focused-approaches of "creating our own reality and authoring one's own life." Before I say much more on that, let's be clear, I think both ideals have merit and I think each one of us has a predisposition or comfort zone with one way of living more  than with the other. No problem there as I see it.

To me, I do not see these two approaches in conflict but I think clarity is pretty important when I go about dreaming, visioning and goal-setting. For me, I have to get into a space inside where  I am visioning in line with my heart's values, not in line with society's standards, my own critical nature's ideas for me, etc. So when "we listen to ourselves" I think it is super important that we are clear which aspect of ourselves we are listening to.

I notice it a lot with yogi's-- many of us are  ardent, perfectionistic, hard-working with high ideals and strict standards for ourselves. And none of that is a bad thing- I, in fact,  think it is a great thing. (of course, I would think it is a great thing-- I just described myself! Anyhoo--)  I do, however,  believe  there is something Higher than that within us --I call it my Heart's Light--that is still very principled, and is, in fact,  the very source of our integrity and values and yet (and this a very big and yet) it speaks with the tone of compassion, love and understanding. So what might it mean to have high ideals without harsh judgement for mistakes? What might it feel like to have strict  standards and yet to be loving and spacious around ours and other's shortcomings? This is a great inquiry of mine these days.

In my experience, the dreams and goals that start referenced here, in the spacious compassion of my Heart's Light have a lovely flavor to them that has nothing to do with manhandling myself  into some new-and-improved version of me. Goals and dreams that start here are about are about bringing my heart forward with dignity, integrity and sustained discipline. (Keep in mind the word discipline relates to disciple and so to me discipline, in this context, is about being a disciple of my Light, my goodness, my own wisdom, not some harsh imposition of rules and punitive guidelines. All that is referenced somewhere else, as I see it. I call it The Dark Side, just to keep a bit of humor and perspective about it, but I digress.)

So the thing is that when I establish myself in this inner place and then dream, vision and set goals from there, then I am, in a sense, bringing the  domains of "let it flow" together  with "make it happen." Truth be told, I am powerless over so much of "how it is going to happen" and the exact way the different threads get woven in the outcomes of my life, so to me,  goal-setting is still  a highly mystical endeavor. I mean, I can not tell you the number of times I have clarified an intention, focused on a direction and then be 100% surprised but he way it manifested! For instance, Elena and I started Yoga Convo and had no idea it would be this webinar and that we should be met with so much support and enthusiasm for the project. Definitely still feels magical.

So, we worked with the theme of ACKNOWLEDGEMENT- how it is key to acknowledge what our heart really wants and also to acknowledge the truth of our actual relationship to that dream. Do we long for connection and intimacy and yet behave in way that imposes loneliness and isolation on ourselves? Do we ache for understanding yet criticize ourselves, the people in our lives and fail to even offer ourselves the very thing we hope the outer world will give us? Do we wish we had an abundance of money but fail to live within our current means, save, and spend our resources wisely? There is that crazy ongoing pulsation of acknowledging the Truth of the Heart and not shying away from our real-time behaviors, attitudes and tendencies. And as it is so often, the Work is in that pulsation, in closing the gap between the voice of the heart and the behaviors of the contracted personality.

As I was working on some of my own homework for the course- I always like to do the homework along with a group- I realized that this course- and so many of my current project are me living into my dream in a very real way. My dream for my own work involves: Enlightened partnerships with the people I love. Offerings that are in alignment with my beliefs and behaviors. Working from a home base so that my energy is cultivated, nourished and magnified. Joy in serving. Optimal clarity and boundaries.  

To me, this work of crafting an optimal life expression IS our Life Work. It is not that we get to a destination and then we are done. These are simply tools to establish, navigate and maintain and meaningful relationship with ourselves and our outer lives. It is so cool.

more soon.