“I’m here because I’m not all there.” ~ Anonymous
Let’s be very clear about the process of yoga, and particularly what happens during a yoga teacher training intensive immersion:
Things WILL get churned up.
Yes, as we do our yoga, certain negative (a relative term) emotions will occasionally rise to the surface to be consciously acknowledged and accepted. Sometimes, if we are still not so conscious, we will project these things onto others instead of taking responsibility for our stuff. We will fail to be loving and compassionate with others, because we cannot yet be loving and compassionate with ourselves, and accept that what we judge in others we probably do ourselves, or have at one point or another in our lives. And we may have the very highest intentions, yet be surprised to find ourselves getting irritable about what others around us are doing, and even lash out or be mean to them, only to immediately regret what we said or did. Instead of apologizing, though, we might rationalize our behavior and/or not be able to express ourselves directly to who we deem is the offending party, and then our resentment and grudge against them just grows, and we end up hurting not only them, but even moreso, ourselves.
And we might be right, and perhaps sometimes we do need to directly confront someone about something they are doing which is not for the highest benefit of all. Yet if this occurs, let’s do this as tenderly and lovingly as possible, realizing that most people do not respond to harshness, that’s not going to generally inspire anyone to real, lasting change! Only lovingkindness will.
Let’s also acknowledge that we are all healing! Every one of us. As the quote at the top puts it so purely and simply: If we were already completely healed to wholeness, we probably wouldn’t be on the planet! Indeed, being alive here now seems to suggest that we still have some work to do. Call it karma to work out, if you will, or call it whatever you like, but let’s call a spade a spade… One Vedic astrologer I met put it,
“We came to EARTH to open our HEART.”
Yes, and perhaps this heart healing won’t even completely happen in one lifetime, yet my point is that this process seems to be happening for each and every one of us. Let’s acknowledge that and treat each other as we ourself would love to be treated.
We can agree to (lovingly) disagree, too. But I will suggest that when we do our yoga teacher training together, we at least agree to the following “Four Agreements,” by master shaman Don Miguel Ruiz…
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.
[And there is a 5th agreement that Don Miguel has added:”Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen.”]
Here is my brief commentary on each of these:
1) Be Impeccable with Your Word: To be honest, this is one I am still really working on! What it comes down to for me is just to be more grounded in what I offer people, and not make promises that I cannot keep. Maybe promises need to be eliminated altogether? You know: Promises, Promises. Yet, if we say, “I’ll try to” or “I’ll do my best,” that often signals to people that we really won’t. So we need to find a way to say things that will make clear that we are committed to doing something and we will do everything in our power to do it, yet also give ourselves an “out,” because sometimes things do come up despite our highest intentions! As a great yogini who will be joining us for our YTT (Meenakshi Angel Honig) has put it to me: If you need to break your word for any reason, you must honorably renegotiate, with a reasonable amount of advance warning time. This is very sound advice, taken to heart. [Ps. I am just being painfully honest with you here for the sake of transparency, yet I also don’t want anyone reading this to think that our training might not possibly happen, it is happening! There already are 10 of us coming, and we still have room for a few more, too.]
2) “Don’t Take Anything Personally”: Recognize the impersonal nature of all of our interactions, realizing that the way a person is treating us is the way that they would treat anyone who is in a similar relationship with them. Meaning it’s not our problem, it’s their’s, and have compassion for them. On the other hand, if what that person is saying to you strikes a chord or hits home as something that YOU really need to work on, then do take it to heart and do what you can to change. This goes for “praise” as much as it goes for “blame.” If someone praises you, okay, that’s sweet, that’s wonderful, it’s nice to be ackowledged, but…don’t let it go to your head! If you get so excited when someone praises you, then you’ll probably get equally as down when someone criticizes you, so…get off that wild rollercoaster ride and get into your equilibrium!
3) “Don’t Make Assumptions”: Our ego-mind will sometimes spin these crazy scenarios about what’s going on with another person. Then when we actually meet that person face-to-face, as opposed to just in our wild imagination, we realize how off-base we were. And if we make the mistake of expressing our assumption(s) to that person, they’re like: “Dude, what are you talking about, it’s not like that at all! OR (simpler example): We ASSUME that someone else is going to pick up that piece of trash on the floor of the yoga space, instead of taking responsibility and picking it up ourself! Not making assumptions also includes letting go of expectations. Having too high expectations will inevitably lead to disappointment. Rather, be open and in the flow, ready for whatever life has to bring at any moment, without imposing your will (though being proactive when the situation calls for it), and not trying to “organize the present moment” — the present moment will be just fine organizing itself!
4) “Always Do Your Best”: Another way of expressing this might be: Live each moment as if it were your last. Whatever you’re doing, commit to it, and put all of your heart, soul, and might into it. In yoga terms, don’t do anything half assana : ) Put your entire being into what you’re doing. Concentrate! Focus! This is a challenge in this age of multi-tasking, and this is one big reason why we are going to keep our technological gadgetry outside of our yoga space, and only use it at select times of the day.
I ask that you take a moment to put these 4 Agreements into your long-term memory by meditating upon each one and asking yourself what each one means to YOU. Which one(s) speak to you most? Is it because that is the one you need to work on most? If so, what action steps will you take to do that?