Sunday, March 6, 2011
Party/Discipline/Supernatural Powers/The End of the World... AKA a weekend with John Friend
So does the title sum it up? If you've been with John Friend before, you know it's a wild ride. This trip to Miami was only my 4th time to workshop with him but already I knew, my job was to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, because there's no predicting where he'll go. I mean, I certainly wasn't expecting lectures on the supernatural powers gained from practice or on the interplay between Astrophysics, Quantum physics and Human consciousness (actually, I wasn't surprised about that last one). And so on arrival, I strapped myself in, Opened to Grace and waited to have my mind and body blown. I was not disappointed.
Because there always seems to be so much interest in "what he said" I'll give you the brief run down by session of what I gleaned from the 4 sessions of the Intermediate/Advanced workshop in Miami over the last weekend in February.
Session 1: Let's Party. -- Seriously, I could barely get any yoga in with all the laughing going on. Let's just say the central Americans and spicy Miami folks know how to bring the fiesta. This was such a HUGE contrast to the vibe in PA last year where the room was filled with East Coasters and the NYC/NJ crowd. I'll take Miami any day. The theme for the tour is Dancing with the Divine and this first session was totally centered in that theme. It was mainly an invitation to back off and let the Grand Dancer (Shiva/Shakti) lead. Of course, you can't just totally let go and become wishy-washy, but you tie your own efforts to the flow of Grace and then go with the flow of Grace, not against her. Essentially, tie your will to the guide of the Divine. Always let the Shakti lead. With that, backbend as much as you like!
Session2 : Discipline -- This was the stabilizing force to the freedom of the morning. The theme was Adhikara (studentship) and John worked through the different levels of studentship as they relate to the elements. Earth, Water, Air, Fire. The practice was an intense forward fold and hip opening class with 3 rounds of Hanumanasana on each side held for 2 minutes per side. He said that the longer you hold your discipline, the longer you hold yourself to the high standard or the heart quality you are trying to cultivate (fire, passion, grounding ... etc.) if you can hold yourself to it for at least 2 minutes then you will create a new pathway. You are laying down the groundwork for you to have that quality more readily off the mat, especially in challenging times. He also had Minosh (forgiveness on the spelling!) tell about the symbolism of Ganesha. The most interesting point being that Ganesha is less a Remover of Obstacles but more a check point. Ganesh IS an obstacle. It is he who grants you the ability to continue or not on the path you are taking. So as you pray to Ganesh, John says, pray not to have your challenges removed, pray for the strength to overcome them.
Session 3: Supernatural powers -- Ok, here's where we start to get freaky people. Just kidding. If someone took this out of context you could get freaked out or big headed, but, it is John Friend , what else do we expect? THe question came about Laghima (lightness) which he'd spoken about on the previous day. John then explained that in Patanjali's sutras in chapter 3 Patanjali talks about how the yogin will gain supernatural powers (siddhis) from the practice. The practice was focused on the first 4. The powers of being very small, very large, very heavy, or very light. To illustrate what is meant by this John told a story about Gurumayi and how she is a small woman but whenever he spoke with her he had the feeling of looking up to her. I feel the same way about Todd. He's a small man but he is huge in the space, he fills the room. So our practice was huge work with Muscular and particularly ORGANIC energy. Getting very grounded and heavy in order to become light. The practice was backbending, hand balancing and handstands into urdhva dhanurasana. whew! He did say that the siddhis were not usually taught until a person had reached a certain stage of initiation and humility and restraint in yogic study. This is because these 4 are not the only 4 and as you go deeper things get pretty powerful. But he said, times are changing, the world is speeding up and we don't have time to waste. So, he entrusted us to use our awareness for good at all times. And if you want to know more on the rest of the powers i suggest picking up Patanjali.
Session 4: The End of the World -- Well, not really the end of the world. John spoke a lot about how scientists are discovering the very same principles are at work both in quantum physics and in astrophysics. Things like matter being organized around an emptiness/black hole that sucks into apparent nothing but most likely has the opposite of itself on the other side. This organization is mirrored in our bodies in the way our tissues spiral. It is mirrored in our consciousness as well and in our abilities to create our realities. This was a fun and funny talk because he'd say something really mind blowing and then gestured like he was smoking a joint and say "dude". or another time he said something deep and a student said "and... savasana" I write that this was the 'end of the world talk' because he briefly commented on the Mayan calendar and on a desire to be in Mexico for December 2012. He said he was going to speak more on these things later in the tour. So, there's still more to come. This was another hip opening practice. Sundial pose, hanuman, lotus, lotus on your knees with your hand on your partner's shoulder, leg behind the head pose was the final one. Well, and Savasana.
As you can see it was a full and mind-opening and really Heart Opening weekend. I feel the reverberation of being with him and the kula bouncing around in my energy bodies and am trying not to lose that. I wish I could've stayed longer but I do what I can. Here's looking forward to studying with him again in New Orleans in the fall.