Monday, August 27, 2012

Got your back

My life in 2012 is taking shape in so many unexpected ways.   It is a constant unfolding into the unknown and quite unexpected.  For the most part, I'm doing ok with the changes.  
July into August has been slightly ungrounding, but I'm starting to find my ground now.  As I do, ideas are forming.  Thoughts and plans are starting to take shape.  Projects that had to go underground for a while are starting to show just above the surface again.  And it's time to start talking about it.

Here's what I want to do:  Yoga Mentoring.  Mentoring for yoga teachers, teachers-to-be, and practitioners who want a more personal connection than the 90-minutes we get in our group class once a week.

I really think I'm meant to start doing this kind of work/service/whatever.  It is just so obviously needed.

When I was nearing the end of YTT with Todd and Ann I asked Todd who I could be in contact with, who could mentor me.  I knew I had this big light inside, but I was totally afraid to let it shine.  He didn't even know what was in there, and what I was capable of... I had an inkling, but was super afraid to start to put myself out there.  (honestly, I still grapple with that, but have made huge shifts since 2010).  He helped me figure out a teacher to get in contact with, but she was far away and we only corresponded infrequently by email.  It wasn't satisfying.

What I wanted was someone who really knew me, knew my struggles, had my back, and egged me on a bit to take that next little step.  Someone I could come to with a horrible class, great class, questions abut philosophy or meditation... questions about how to fit all this amazing revelation into my life.  Someone real and in person.

 Actually, I still want that.  Luckily I get hits of it when Lila comes to town.

So that's what I'm offering.  To teachers, to teachers-to-be, to students.  Actual committed support along this crazy path we call yoga.  I've been teaching for a while, I've worked as a therapist, I'm a mom, I'm a real life practitioner in this real life crazy world of being married and having a job and trying to make it all fit in.  Mostly, I care.

I want to elevate the teaching in my area by supporting teachers and students alike.  

What I ask from the mentee is simple: Commitment and Responsibility.  A real desire to grow and learn and question.  A willingness to explore.  By commitment I mean and envision this as a formal real relationship where we agree on some guidelines including: meeting together on a regular basis (phone or in person as needed), and some homework or something, possibly a small fee or trade on a case-by-case basis.  By responsibility I mean you show up.  If we're scheduled you don't cancel or just blow it off.  You do the homework or mediation.  You move more towards adult spirituality.  (or we both move towards that together).

I just am tired of people feeling so alone out there.  I spent way too much time feeling super alone in my spiritual journey.  I struggle with that often.  If I can alleviate any small amount of the struggle for those in my community (and beyond) I'm so there to do that!

So that's on my agenda starting in September.  Want it on yours?  Leave me a comment and we'll go from there.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Possession is 9/10ths of the Law

(10 weeks)

It is still somewhat early in this second pregnancy.  I'm getting close to second trimester, but I consider the entirety of the first trimester to be 'early' pregnancy.  Especially since I haven't told everyone I know, or broadcast this pregnancy to the world just yet.  (these posts are still hidden at time of this writing)

The early time of pregnancy, the early time of motherhood too is pretty much about turning your life upside down and surrendering to forces way outside of your control.  A new being has taken residence in your life and it makes itself known almost from the instant of conception.

I've been thinking of it this morning as a sort-of possession that happens.  Kind of like the exorcist really.  There is something, more accurately someONE, literally inside of me creating all kinds of changes and wrecking havoc with my sense of normalcy and there's really nothing to be done about it since I do actually want this person to come to life fully.

In the Tantric yoga philosophy I've been studying there is a word for this kind of deep full possession by Spirit: Samavesha.  In one description Samavesha is like being intoxicated.  If you drink wine and become drunk -- you are intoxicated by the wine and the wine has a hold on you.  In much the same way, this philosophy says we are intoxicated by Spirit, without our having to do anything. Spirit intoxicates us and we are infused with it.  We are possessed by Spirit and possessing of Spirit simultaneously.

In early pregnancy, Spirit immediately and immanently intoxicates the blob of cells that will become my child.  AND, in turn, it is as if I am being intoxicated by this new being.  Literally - it feels TOXIC - maybe because it really is a foreign creature living inside of me.  He or She is possesses me entirely, I pretty much have no control.

And the new life, cell building stage is so wildly powerful in this early pregnancy stage that at times I feel that I'm being dragged underwater.  My awareness is split.  I'm here with you, and I'm eternal, engaged in the deep mystery of life that I cannot possibly fathom.  

In Meditation for the Love of It, Sally Kempton describes a similar mental space.  When Spirit starts to call her towards meditation she is in her world, but she starts to become sleepy or starts to feel a pull into deeper experience.  Spirit literally beckons us into deeper experience, into meditation, as we become more and more fluent in going there.  

Same same with pregnancy.  I am pulled into awareness of the living cells expanding inside of me.  There are moments when keeping my eyes open, or my attention in the moment feels literally impossible.  I sleep or I zone out, but it's more than simple physical needs being met - there is an invisible force bringing me into deep relationship with the Eternal mystery of life.

This is a potent spiritual time of deep possession, early pregnancy.  And I don't think enough is said about it.  Maybe the physical discomfort turns women away from exploration of the deeper layers of the experiencing.  Either way, I'm trying to navigate both - the real physical discomfort and the gift that is this direct intervention of Spirit and Life in my body.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Listening In

The DFD -Way back in 2007

I've often heard students say they can't start a home yoga practice because they don't know what they would do.  Even longtime studio students think they'd have no idea what shape to make with their bodies without the guidance of the handy-dandy instructor.

I don't really think that's true.  Well,  I could put it this way.... In my experience, that hasn't been true.  Even before training that told me which pose to put in next, somehow I could eek out a practice.

I think the reality is that we don't really know how to listen to and trust our bodies to lead us.

When I listen, my body tells me exactly what to do.  It tells me what to eat.  It tells me when to use the facilities.  It tells me when to rest and when to get activated.  It tells me when to get off the internet and go outdoors and when to come back in again. It definitely tells me precisely what to do. (my ego often doesn't want to listen, or circumstances don't allow it, but that's besides the point)

The same is true in my yoga practice.  When I slow down and listen, I know what is needed next.

But what does that mean? Listen.  Listen to what my body tells me.

I think the listening must be different for each person, and different in each practice too.  It isn't like a loud speaker plays in my mind broadcasting the next pose, it is a far more subtle communication most of the time.

In normal life, it's a nudge towards a particular pose, one flashes up into my head and that's the one that I absolutely want to do next or want to build up to that day (maybe not the one I was planning on so there's a moment of letting go if I'm to truly follow my inner wisdom).  My body just feels like doing trikonasana.  Or a fleeting image of bakasana flickers before my eyes and when I go there a resounding YES arises inside.

In more extreme times my body becomes a bit more insistent...   After I delivered my daughter I took 4 weeks off from asana practice.  Many women go back much sooner (a day or two for some!!!).  I really wanted to go back sooner, but my midwife instructed me to wait 4 weeks before walking around the block, so I figured that applied to my practice as well.

 As the weeks dragged on I started with an inner impulse to get on my mat, the kind of thing I feel on a daily or weekly basis when the Shakti is flowing well in my practice.   But then I started getting more full messages.  Images of downward facing dog in my mind almost all the time.  And a full bodied feeling sense of me IN downward facing dog, including the view down the length of my mat and back to between my feet.

When I finally returned to the mat my body gave a tremendous happy sigh.  THANK YOU!  (and my hamstrings felt shorter than they'd ever been)  Then my body led me into deeply opening and restful poses for the next several months.

That's what I mean by listen.  For me it is becoming more finely tuned to the way that my body's wisdom is presented to my conscious mind.  And I think it is individual: Images, feeling senses, a deep desire to be in a shape.  It all gets the point across.

So I think we don't need to be afraid to start.  If we are quiet, and patient and open eventually it will come. The practice will flow, because your body absolutely knows what it needs and wants and how to get you to do it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Strangeness of Change

Very very strange.

In the last three weeks, circumstances of my life have combined to move me most decidedly off my mat.  Even mostly off my meditation cushion too.  I've probably practiced an hour and a half total in the last three weeks.  It just is as it must be at this moment, but very very strange.

I've never been a teacher who doesn't practice.  My practice informs and completely feeds my teaching.  And so I'm approaching teaching from a foreign land at the moment. Lucky for me, I'm a planner, which means I actually have notebooks full of sequences and themes already written out for me.  I don't actually know why I keep them because I'm always changing things and shifting in reaction to what the classes need. But in the last few weeks (and most likely for the next several) I'm totally grateful that I have them.

I'm sitting in my boxed up eventually-to-be yoga room and on the shelf beside me sits the Bhagavad Gita in two translations.  I'm reminded again that it is ours to do our dharma.  Get on the mat.  Step off the mat when needed.  Teach from fresh deep inner experience or rely on years of remembering and training to make it through a rough-ish patch.  At any moment an unexpected but not unwelcome shift may arrive and the dharma changes.  Fight it and howl and whine or just simply step onto the next path.  Either way the change has come.  Ours is to do our dharma, and let the universe take care of the rest.

Very very strange.