Good Morning dear family,
I hope this letter finds you warm with joy in a contemplative and receptive state of wonder and curiosity. Are your eyes wide open to the sensual world of Spring? Full of vibrant colours, fresh smells and inspiring ideas
I would love to wander a little further downstream from our previous newsletter in August, where I offered some thoughts and meditations for shifting resistance and negative perceptions (if you missed it or forgot it, please feel free to read it here). During class this morning, I was struck by a sudden inspiration to write about courage and vulnerability and how they can show up in your practice and personal development as a healthy human being. So my letter to you is a BIG invitation if you so choose to take it (but please don’t underestimate its intensity). Throughout your practice or teachings this month, I invite you to experiment with vulnerability and let go of what you think you know. And practice bravery in opening up a channel to what you may not already know and what could be discovered through curious consideration. With every sequence, every posture, and every sensation or instinct you encounter, consider what a soft heart might have to say about this moment. And how would a courageous spirit move through this experience? What could these two entities offer you or make available?
We don’t often recognise the subtle yet forceful barriers we erect between ourselves and other people. And this barrier can be quite limiting if it exists between you and your teacher or you and your students. A mindful note here that barriers and boundaries are not the same thing but are often misused in synonymous ways. A boundary is a healthy line of self-respect and self-understanding. A flexible parameter that can shift based on context, emotion, self-esteem, relationships, and more. A barrier is an energetic block (which is often subconscious) that stands between you and someone else. It is a fixed structure that obscures communication, like trying to speak to someone through a closed door. Or, sometimes, a solid brick wall. It hinders a genuine seeing of each other and makes teachings and learning a much steeper hill to climb
Imagine trying to learn or teach something deeply intimate, like a self-healing technique that could improve emotional stability and nervous system regulation. This is no easy task to learn or teach. But now, imagine you’re stuck in a closed room with nothing but a window between you and the other person, and the only tool you have is pantomiming the lesson through the glass that separates you. Is that even actually possible? And does it honour the core value of what yoga truly is? (Remember, yoga = union).
In order to truly give OR receive incredible wisdom, you must courageously step out from the barriers you build. You must close the distance between you and another person and form a membrane of permeable intelligence. We need earnest transmission of experience and information, free from egoic limitations (e.g. thinking you know everything about the perfect Downward Dog or thinking you can’t do a headstand because you tried it once and failed). This is especially true when sharing the art of yoga, although it’s definitely not exclusive to this modality. Massage, physical therapy, psychology, and even parenting all require this intimacy for growth and human evolution. There are some things in life that cannot be understood purely through the intellectual landscape. Some things require a presence, a listening, a hearing of what is largely misunderstood. A great samurai bowing in reverence.
When you step onto your mat as a yoga student, I invite you to get out of the way. Perhaps consider that you don’t ‘create’ the poses, but the poses are, in fact, creating you. Instead of making the practice a workout, a performance, or a demonstration of how good you are and how hard you can try, may it be a humble offering of your awareness to the symbiotic wisdom of your teacher – whomever or whatever that may be? Somedays, it may be your yoga instructor; other days, it may be your own body. You are courageous in letting go so that you may receive from the practice and your teacher. You are soft in your approach, so you may sense, feel and learn. This is the reception of knowledge.
When you step onto your mat (or wherever else) as a teacher, I invite you to also get out of the way. Ponder the possibility that you don’t ‘create’ the teaching (and that perhaps you don’t always know what’s best), but the teaching, in fact, moves through you. Your intelligence and comprehension provide a pathway for knowledge, but you honouring that knowledge is unique magic. A filter does not change the molecular structure of water but purifies and clarifies its sacredness. In this way, you, too, are the human filter for wisdom. And instead of your teaching being a performance of how good you are or a demonstration of how much you know, can it be a humble collaboration between your knowledge and that of your students? A sacred synergy of learning where you are courageous enough to surrender propriety and self-consciousness in order to connect sincerely to your friend. And where you are soft enough in your expectations so you can move intelligently beyond the barriers that limit ALL learning. This is the transference of knowledge.
I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts on these offerings and I hope you enjoy embodying this practice
With profound love & gratitude,