"Education is the attempt to “lead out” from within the self a core of wisdom that has the power to resist falsehood and live in the light of truth, not by external norms but by reasoned and reflective self-determination."
-Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach
Well, I am spending a lot of time writing online but no so much on my blog. most of my attention these days is on answering questions in our Asana Junkies forum and preparing course materials for the upcoming Online Teacher Training and Mentoring Group. I am enjoying the work online A LOT. Particularly fun is to see how the online forum can provide both intellectual information about the practice and the "how to" of practice but also can provide a function of group connection and support. Certainly, online forums are not the same as the nitty-gritty up close and personal work that we do when we are in proximity to one another however it does highlight and offer a meaningful sense of being together as a community of practitioners.
One of my current favorite writers is a Christian psychologist named Scott Peck. I read his book A Road Less Travelled years ago- I mean like in 1987 or something-- and so its fun all these years later to revisit his work and teachings from a more adult perspective. I have recently been reading his book on community called A Different Drum. He talks a lot about how community is different than being part of a group and his definition of community centers around an idea of leadership being a shared experience in true community. He makes a distinction between a "group" that has a great leader and good followers and having a true community where everyone in the group gives their talents, etc. and assumes responsibility for leadership in some way and the power differential shifts away from a centralized figure to a shared experience.
He has some very cool things to say about how groups form and grow and how chaos is a very real stage of community development and that for the evolved kind of community he is describing to occur, a period of breakdown and chaos has to happen. He even defines healthy community has a community that can "fight gracefully together."
Obviously there is a lot of food for thought here and a lot to consider about how such notions might interface with yoga practice, study and community. One thing I am very clear on these days is that having an inspiring vision and/or an intellectually appealing idea does NOT mean that I actually know how to bring those visions and ideas to life in a functional way. I do believe it takes some training and some practice and a lot of trial and error.
At any rate, I do know that I am a creature of community and I see myself as a weird combination of idealistic realism. Or realistic idealism. I am not sure which, actually. However, I live in a pretty dynamic tension between what I find as inspiring visionary impulses and the stark reality of how dicey those propositions are and how difficult it can be to be human and in loving, healthy and honest relationships with ourselves and one another. Breaking through our patterns and moving beyond our conventional coping strategies is not easy, although I do think it is worthwhile.
So being online as a learning community is a certain kind of practice and a certain kind of experiment. Being up close and personal is both similar and different. I am interested these days in calling the group work we are doing "learning communities" as opposed to yoga community or spiritual community because I think what we are really up to is an educational process. The more I ponder yoga these days and even my own relationship to spirituality, I keep coming back to education as my primary passion in all of it.
How is it that yoga can teach me? How is that yoga can help me learn from my own experience? How is that yoga can help me learn from my mistakes? How is it that we, as fellow community members, can support, challenge, soothe, disturb and otherwise "draw out from within" the deeper wisdom that lives inside each of us individually and collectively? How might we truly learn to learn what matters most. I think yoga has good tools for that. So I am more into yoga as a tool for learning than I am as a system to "believe in" or to "convert others to" etc.
So these are my questions these days. Good times.