Monday, September 1, 2008

Dear Ones, (a letter, a rant, a commentary, a prayer)

To all my beloved students who have patiently withstood my comings and goings this last two months, you have my deepest gratitude. I've been a bit of a pilgrim this summer, traversing time zones with vim and vigor. When in the Bay Area, I have been attending many workshops and immersions myself, and thus, yoga is oozing out of my pores. This year marks my tenth year of teaching, and of course I feel like an infant all the time-- like a pup whose eyes are barely open... Thankfully, yoga continues to wake me up on a regular basis. My latest delight was to learn the true meaning of the Sanskrit word anugraha, which I've always known to mean 'grace'. I learned recently that the word actually means holding close (anu) and letting go (graha). Chris Wallace (Hareesh - a scholar who regularly teaches for Anusara trainings) explained to us that this makes a lot of sense, because the crux of the spiritual path is choice. We each have to choose, for ourselves, what we will hold close, and what we will let go. Each of us is constantly at choice. As Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, we each must empower ourselves to create our worlds, we must take action. There is no safe harbor in relinquishing agency, for even non-action is action, with its own ramifications. This teaching seems particularly pertinent this fall, as we attempt to engage in the democratic process without creating more polarization in our nation. Humans have a strongly ingrained tendency to villify 'the other' - anyone not in one's tribe, one's own camp. Liberal Democrats against conservative republicans is just another version of us against them. It's easy for all of us to become so convinced of our own right-ness that we neglect to see the humanity of those with different viewpoints -- especially in times like these, when everyone has their grundies in a bundle around something- the endless war, the precarious economy, the reeling enviroment. It doesn't appear that this will be over soon, and everybody is scared. But if we behave as if the sky is falling, we are in trouble. We are incredibly vulnerably if we let fear determine our course; the current administration has been feeding on our fear for some time now. Without a populace in sheer terror, would we have a Patriot Act? Or a Paulson plan? We have to engage in this struggle without being fueled by anger or fear. Going inside for guidance seems the only recourse.
That's my rant for today. I hope to see you soon in class, so that I can rant more in person. I will be back this Friday and Sunday, and the Fall will find me more often home in the Bay Area, with fewer random traipsings. Last weekend I was gone as I taught a retreat at Mount Madonna Center with Laurie Broderick Burr. It was a beautiful opportunity for all of us to both sit quietly and to practice asana, and to sort out the inner conundrum as they arose. We re-booked for the Spring, and we'll continue to lead spring and fall retreats every year. Also, if you would like to retreat soon, before the holidays are upon us, consider attending the Thanksgiving retreat, upcoming, with myself, Samantha Shakti Brown, and Talya Lutzker. Retreat is an unparalleled way to ground and re-balance yourself, if perchance life has revealed to you its chaotic side. Even if not, taking a retreat is a phenomenal opportunity to self-reflect, to feel the strength of the practice, the strength of the body - spirit - mind convergence, and that of the kula - the community of practitioners. Perhaps most delightfully, someone makes all your food, and cleans up! It's really a good thing we've got going...
In deep gratitude for all of it,

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