Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yoga Teacher Training: Final Thoughts

Yoga Teacher Training with Tom Gillette, Eyes of the World, Providence, RI.

“There is no salvation for the soul, but to fall in love.” Through loving relationship we can transcend suffering and find this salvation. While to transcend suffering is the pot of gold we all seek, we build so many walls that get in the way. These walls make it impossible to relate to one another. We become stuck in our little world. And the irony of it all? The very relationship we’ve protected ourselves against is the path to salvation. It’s through loving relationship that we feel safe to bring down the walls and transcend the illusion of separateness.

This sounds like wonderful theory, and in fact it is. Yet, before discovering yoga I had no practical means of accessing it! Yoga practice has literally shifted my perspective, I feel thoroughly changed. Through yoga I learned to deeply experience the theory of unity I believed in so deeply. (As I sit and meditate on the idea of change, my eyes close almost automatically now and my breath becomes soft and even. There’s a bubbly sensation on my skin. As I follow the breath weaving through my body, each cell vibrates in tune with the air and my mind plays with the gray area between this and that. “Tat tvam asi” – a thread of gold from the Chandogya Upanishad becomes a little clearer.)

When I started to practice yoga years ago, yoga aasana began working its magic almost instantly. My mind was steady, I was calmer at work, my relationships were flourishing. But over time, without guidance – the effects of the aasana practice alone began to wane and grow stale. The calmness started to subside. My reactivity to sensation returned and I started to loose control. My habitual life was taking over, living like a reactive robot.

Teacher training placed me squarely back where I started, trying to make sense of it all. At times, the experience overwhelmed my senses and weighed heavily on my body. But with a steady path carved out by our teacher and those students before, I persevered. “Yoasgchittavrittinirodahah.” So much of yoga teacher training, like this teaching, made sense intuitively. Stop the talking mind and one will find unity! And yet, through yoga we begin to recognize the grand challenge in that simple directive.

Through diligent practice and study, yoga begins to work on our body, mind and spirit; and our experience of reality intensifies. Not that our previous experienced was false, but rather, through yoga we witness another level of reality. Our grasp on our little personality begins to soften, and we may actually consider taking a brick off the wall that separates us from “the other”. Finally, when we are ready allow ourselves to truly love, we realize “the other” is none other than the self. We learn, then, from experience that the separation between you and me is an illusion. We literally come to experience the cause of suffering as our failure to recognize this illusion and attempting to live within it. “Only from the heart, can you reach the sky”. Only from a place of courageous authenticity can we fall in love. Now, from my own experience, I can honestly claim that yoga provides a path to being a compassionate human being and the courage needed to transcend the illusion.

Salvation, by Rumi

There is no salvation for the soul
But to fall in Love.
It has to creep and crawl
Among the Lovers first.

Only Lovers can escape
From these two worlds.
This was written in creation.

Only from the Heart
Can you reach the sky.
The rose of Glory
Can only be raised in the Heart.

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