Wednesday, June 25, 2008

more yoga ramblings! yay!

Okay, I was all ready to close the book on post-training rambling, but I just found this, which I wrote in mid May:

I did my second of three assistant teachings this morning; [J]'s all levels class in [C]. It went well. I felt comfortable doing it, and that has been the big stumbling block for me to work through in this training. I really am getting there. "I can win this," as River says in the last episode of Firefly.

This is graduation weekend for SUNY New Paltz, and I mulled that over on my drive up to [C] this morning. I've known college students who really blossomed and unfolded in the course of their undergraduate years, and it has been beautiful to watch; but that was not my experience. I remember an abiding sense of emptiness after I got my degree. The questions "Well, what was the point of all that?" and "What now?" loomed. Those questions don't present themselves to me in the same ominous overtones with respect to the culmination of my teacher training. I know what this was all about, and I know what happens next. This has been a major part of my blossoming and unfolding, in a way that college really wasn't. As college was about listening to other voices, this has been about listening to my own.

Anyway, this morning's class was all women. I felt a little uncomfortable and out of place at first, until I hit my rhythm with assisting and adjusting, and I forgot that I had the only Y chromosome in the room. I'm not 100% sure what to make of my discomfort. I'm comfortable with friendships with women, obviously, and I'm comfortable practicing with women. Why not teaching? I think it's the power differential. I'm not a peer anymore when I'm at the front of the room giving directions, or making adjustments. I bear a different level of responsibility, and I know how badly that responsibility can be abused. The phrase "trembling before g-d" comes to mind for reasons I don't entirely understand. Maybe that makes sense given the central role this practice has in my life. I know how vital this has been to me as a personal practice, unimpeded by concerns of the sincerity of my instructors. I want anyone I teach to have that same experience.

On an entirely unrelated note, in a month's time, I will be in Guatemala on holiday, assaulting the poor unsuspecting natives with my absolutely atrocious Spanish, and probably contracting aeomebic dysentery. Can't wait! I've never been outside the US and Canada before, and I really have no idea what to expect. "Show up and see what happens" is the mantra I'm choosing to apply to this situation. (Of course, I AM doing some preparation as well... brushing up on my Spanish, getting injections, doing some amount of planning. I am fortunate in that I'll be traveling there with friends who have been there before.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Waring blenders and microscopes

[largely bastardized from a journal entry I wrote this afternoon, while sitting in the Muddy Cup and eavesdropping on a group of nursing mommies and social workers]

I've spent the past two days mulling over the best way to write this - not because it's a difficult topic, but because it's important to me and I want to write it well. I didn't come up with any great ideas though, so I guess I'll just jump in and see what happens. I completed my teacher training this past weekend; took my final exam on Saturday, and had the last class session on Sunday. I had the impression that no one wanted to leave at the end of Sunday's session. Certainly I didn't.... Now that it's over, I find myself in familiar, well-worn territory: reflecting on and contemplating that which has been...

...there are things I understand better now than I did before the training. I get what samskara means now, having caught myself building new samskaras around the prospect of student teaching. I get that tapas and svadhyaya are necessary conditions of ishvarapranidhana; we need to study ourselves honestly and work earnestly in order to produce something of value to offer up. And I get that, as the Bhagavad Gita says, we are entitled to our efforts, but not to their fruits. It's not about self-denial. It's about mindset. Work becomes its own reward when it is undertaken with honest intention and diligent effort. Work ceases to be work, and becomes something almost sacred; a covenant between self, Self, and That-Which-Lies-Beyond-Self-And-Permeates-All. For some, this means god. For me, it means Love.

I often shy away from the use of superlatives, but as regards my instructors and fellow trainees, I can say without equivocation that they are the finest, most dedicated group of yogi(ni)s with whom I could have hoped to share this process. A more generous, courageous, grateful cohort is difficult for me to imagine. I am honoured to have had the great fortune of practicing with and learning from them, and I look forward to continuing to practice with and learn from them, in whatever form that may take. So thank you all - fully, completely.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recent reflections and adventures... recorded (for the most part) in my journal last night while sipping tea at the Muddy Cup:

  • If whiskey is a poor man's Prozac, then chamomile tea is a poor poor man's whiskey. Or do I have this completely backwards?

  • Regarding the imminent culmination of my teacher training: One of the benefits of doing a training this way, stretched out over many months interspersed with day to day life, is that one's usual issues continue to arise, but because of one's ongoing studies, one is impelled to use a new set of tools to deal with them. Life becomes the crucible of practice. Life becomes the mat, and then, suddenly it becomes clear that there is no mat, and maybe there never was.

  • I successfully executed a stealth sconing on Friday. I took off from work for the day, woke up early, made pumpkin ginger scones, and dropped them off on the doorstop of an old friend who I hadn't seen in a while (and whose birthday it was).

  • My first CSA distribution of the season is today. Huzzah! I can't wait to see what I'm going to get (in addition to mounds and mounds of greens).