Like so many of my students from that period of time, Amanda and I formed a deep bond and have watched either grow, change and transform through many cycles of life. I think me and Amanda have spent over 300 hours in the classroom together and that creates a connection, to be sure.
I totally understand that teachers and students come together during certain periods of life and that, in some cases, those relationships do not endure. Sometimes, we meet a teacher who is right for us for certain phase and they shift and change or we shift and change and through no fault of either person, we part ways and grow in different directions. I have experienced this dynamic as both a student and a teacher. And, there are students and teachers who grow with us over a long period of time and with whom we weather storms of misunderstanding, misperception and find ways to champion one another in and through the inevitable ups and downs of sustained relationship.
At any rate, I had a great weekend.
The theme for the weekend was The Power of Practice, which is a pretty broad topic and gave me plenty of room with which to work.
For me, these days, the power of practice lives in the simplicity of having a practice. I no longer think that getting a new pose is going to radically alter my life or my inner state. As much as I love asana I am a bit of a cynic these days about it.
Do not get me wrong-- it is never not exiting (meaning, it is always exciting) to break new ground in asana. I love it. I really do. Moving from “I can’t to I can” is wonderful and empowering. I am into it. To develop strength in my body, to turn stiffness into mobility, to connect the dots of understanding into observable and felt action is amazing. These examples of progress are profound, radical acts and are some of the boons of sustained practice. It is never not thrilling (meaning, it is always thrilling) to me as a practitioner when I experience progress and as a teacher witnessing breakthroughs is a great part of the job. I love it. I know it is important.
Having a practice, for me, means that I have a way- in the midst of a busy life and in the midst of a crazy culture- to create and sustain a relationship with myself. The way I figure it, the alarm goes off every morning and life pulls me into its sphere. And there is a lot of great and wonderful things in the sphere of my life these days. Also, there are some tough things I work with. The thing about practice is that in the midst of it all, I have a time and space and a set of tools with which to cultivate a relationship with myself and with my own energy.
I think about it from an outdoor education perspective a lot. If you are out backpacking with a group and you get “lost in the wilderness,” the best thing to do is to sit down and stay in one place. If you stay put, the group stands a better chance of finding you than if you are walking around looking for them while they are walking around looking for you.
I think that many of us are living a little separated from ourselves and are, at times, a bit lost in the wilderness of our lives. Practice, for me, is like sitting down and staying put long enough for my better angels to find me when I have wandered off a bit.
I don’t even know that I have wandered sometimes. It is not always some big “acting out” or outer drama that takes me away from myself. Sometimes it is the simple, unrelenting demands of caring for others, making a living, and doing my best to be a good person that pulls me out of the sphere of my own inner connection. Sometimes, it is poor choices, addictions and deeper self-betrayals. Obviously, there is that. But sometimes, the wandering off happens while my intentions are high, my motives are pure and my efforts are sincere. Sometimes, trying so hard is my problem.
Regardless, the point is, we don’t always wander off knowingly. Sometimes, years go by before we realize we have strayed in very profound ways and the power of the practice is that if we have stay connected to it, practice will be there to help bring us back to center. Because, once you have realized you are lost, it is really best to have some skills for staying put already in your pocket. Kind of like a metaphoric Powerbar that can feed you while you wait for the search party. I don’t want to find myself having wandered off, and also having to re-establish my practice. And, of course, having regular practice tends to keep my from wandering off so much or so far. That’s the idea anyway.
It was sage advice and it kept me in place. And she was right. Life opened up and I was able to forge more time for practice and study and it wasn’t the end of the world, yogic-ly speaking.
Well, the day, once again beckons. More soon.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."