Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Drama of Maple Trees

For the past few weeks, I've been in crisis mode so deeply that I wasn't even aware that I was operating on auto-pilot and that I hadn't really stopped to feel.  That all changed today.  I woke up and felt like a petrified tree.  My thought processes and actions were completely frozen. I had nothing to teach, no asana to offer.  I was done.  Finito.  Kaput. Complete disconnect.

This is a scary feeling to someone who teaches for a living. My heart felt like a wintery tundra. 

Yet, the world won't wait while you get your shit sorted out,  so...

Off I went to teach, thinking that I would just teach a flow with no theme.  Heck, I'm not an Anusara teacher anymore, I could do just that kind of wacky thing! (yes, I'm completely aware of what a cop-out that is.) As I drove through the Hudson Valley, I saw a circular driveway with about 50 trees, all tapped to collect the sap to be boiled into maple syrup.  I burst out into hysterical sobs.  Like that. WTF was going on?  What had cracked open in me?

It was one of those a-ha moments.  Sometimes the tapping process releases pressure in a powerful way and out it all comes at once.  Even in the face of what appears to be frozen solid, sweetness is always flowing inside, yearning to get out—sometimes right alongside grief.  I thought I was frozen and dead inside.  Duh, even in the frozen winters, the sap is still present.  Even when the river freezes, life is still flowing beneath the ice.  Even when I forget my own heart, it's still pumping sweet nectar through me.  I just forgot to tap into myself enough to taste it.  I wasn't frozen.  I was forgetful and sad.  

I love the idea of anjali mudra as a tap into our hearts.  Our thumbs reach in to connect more deeply, and the fingers reach out as release and to offer the sweetest flavor of life into the world. The more I remember and tap into my own heart, the more I can soften, feel things as they come up, and good or bad, step into the flavors of life.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leaving Anusara

Several years ago John told me to get stronger.  I did.  I worked hard and learned to live in my own heart, rather than on the periphery of my own life.  I'm now strong enough to do the right thing, no matter how painful.  And this is painful.  I keep hoping I'm wrong in what I know and what I must do, but my heart keeps telling me that I am right.  It is testament to all I have received within Anusara that I can be so sure and stand strong in that truth. I will always be grateful to John for creating a space in which I could grow and to the community for receiving me in love.

Since the truth of John Friend's mis-conducts came out, I have wanted nothing more than for it to be false.  I hoped it wasn't as bad as all that.   I hoped it was just some financial and private transgressions.  Then I hoped it could all be worked out in the restructuring process. But, there was more to it than that.  John not only jeopardized the good name of this elegant and refined system, but has victimized women by offering "sex therapy."  Now that all hope is gone, all that remains is the truth before me.  And when I resign myself to that truth, my only choice becomes to resign my license with Anusara.  

The only way to serve my community fully, and in good conscience ask you to trust in my integrity as a teacher and human being is to step out from under this shadow that bears over me, and to stand in my own light.  I stand behind Anusara, but I can no longer stand behind John Friend.  I remain a certified Anusara Instructor but I am severing ties with the organization that holds John Friend in its arms. What I have received remains with me and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of such a vibrant and powerful community.  My belief in the system and all I have in my heart remains unwavering, as does my dedication to serving my community of students and fellow teachers.  I will continue to offer you my highest and remain ever in your service.

With deepest gratitude,


Friday, February 3, 2012

Self Doubt Can Suck It

In my first days of practicing yoga, I was consumed with self-doubt.  Everyone on the mat was better than me. Surely they were laughing at me, that annoyingly accomplished clique in the corner.  I would never stick my foot behind my head. I was shit.

I recognized the self-hatred silliness in it enough to persevere and pursue teaching, which of course brought up more self doubt.  Again and again I've been confronted with this girl who shadows my fabulous self.  You know her—she's the one who always gets it right; makes magic with the flip of her wand, flips her hair in slow motion and never, ever has anything stuck in her teeth.  In other words, my own mythical unicorn.  In reality, however, I stand (in my self doubting mind) before the world with matted hair, with my foot in my mouth (rather than elegantly behind my head), and probably on the floor because I've just fallen over.  I want to beat my shadow self senseless.

Yet, she never goes away.  I can't push her to the back of the closet, or excise her from my being anymore than I can excise my own shadow. And trust me.  I have tried.

Fast forward to today and I receive an email offering me a teaching opportunity which will expose me to a much broader audience.  Guess who wants to respond to the email?  You guess it—self doubt girl.  Why does she always show up at the worst times? My own personal Tom Riddle/Voldemort in a school of talented wizards.  Here I am, right where I started all those years ago.  Have I made no progress at all?  Well, I have, but not in the way I had originally hoped.  I figured that the more I lived my yoga, the less of the awkward self-loathing girl we'd see.  She'd vanish into vapor.  Apparently not so much.  Fabulous.

What actually happened over the past ten years, was that I learned (from John Friend and Douglas Brooks) that I can't (and shouldn't try) to get rid of my shadow self. It is as much a part of me as my highest self.  To shove part of myself away, because it's unattractive diminishes my power for growth.  A LOT.  Douglas Brooks teaches us that the brighter your light, the darker, denser and longer your shadow is.  It's attached to you.  Get it? It is you.

So what to do?  What to do?  The answer, which really works for me, is to welcome it in.  Offer my acceptance of the shadowy, dark and awkward parts of myself.  Radical.  Imagine if Tom Riddle had been welcomed into the fold? Self-acceptance has that much potential.  Those "shadows" are nothing other than me.  What I do with them is where the real magic occurs.  Remember how his mothers love enveloped and protected Harry when he challenged the great all powerful evil?  It's like that.  If I can't accept the darkness, then I also can't fully accept the light. Dorky girl and fabulous girl need to become BFFs.

This may the most challenging part of yoga for me. Self acceptance of those parts of myself that are not so lovely does NOT come easy.  I am lonely Tom Riddle consumed by darkness and I am Harry enveloped in the bright light of love.  I can't stand on either side of the fight because they're both me.   Self doubt (or whatever your own shadow call themselves) will always be there.  There will always be shadows next to light.  And the compassionate embrace of love and acceptance envelopes that darkness and actually allows you to shine brighter.  Good luck.  Don't forget your wand.  You're going to need it.