It’s a beautiful crisp morning here in the jungle, by the ocean…and I am feeling more settled in some significant ways after 5 days here. Then there are ways that I feel quite unsettled in my mind, particularly while watching the news on my laptop each evening. I told myself that I would take a break from it, but it draws me, the actions of this new president…the frightening possibilities that threaten to separate us from the rest of the world and from each other. And then I remember…
I remember the unchanging presence that underlies this world of change, and I see that others are standing up, speaking out, from an awareness of this presence, whether consciously or not. This presence is the connecting force that draws us together when outer forces threaten to pull us apart, and one could give it many names…Love is the word that comes to mind at this time.
For 25 years I have been teaching a winter retreat in this lovely little village of Puerto Morelos, between the ocean and the jungle. Each year, I come early to prepare, to work out the many details of the workshop and to give myself time to open to the experience of creating space for, and guiding the group through a journey of self-inquiry and exploration in breath-inspired movement. Each year, I spend this time in contemplation of their needs, hopes, dreams, wishes, concerns, and anticipate a wonderful week for them as they decompress from their daily lives and open to all that this generous environment offers. This year, another feeling keeps creeping in…a sense of the anxiety and helplessness that they will be bringing…and my own sense of helplessness in being able to lift them out of that shadow state. And then I remember…
I remember what I have come to understand at a very deep level over my 40 years as a teacher, and continually remind the teacher trainees of to lessen their fears of teaching… the challenges that they face in feeling responsible for the students and their experience. I remind them to trust the practice, and that we as teachers are mere guides and facilitators of these ancient techniques that have been evolving through the years to meet the needs of our modern world. I remind them that our responsibility level is high, yes, but that the responsibility lies in our staying in the practice ourselves, to keep coming back to that unchanging presence that connects us all and reestablishing the balance between our outer and inner worlds in such a way that we can better serve our higher purpose. I remind myself, and them,that awareness is the key, practice is the tool, and Love is the answer. This is the Essence of Yoga.
Now…having remembered, I rest in the knowledge that our week together will be a reminder for them, the students, of this awareness that the practice of yoga opens us to. And I am flooded with gratitude for the practice, for the opportunity to share the practice, and for life itself.