Sunday, July 29, 2012

Notes to a Teacher: Inspired by Chuck Miller

You are a teacher. You are born into privilege; your struggle is not for survival. You have the opportunity to practice yoga. Use this time, this birth, and the gift of this lifetime to do the work. All around you see people living and dying, yet you live your life as if it will go on forever.

Your role, as a teacher, is to orient the student back to their authentic self. Dismantle the wall that separates us from experiencing what IS. Help them deal with their issues rather than feeding them hard postures to kick in their endorphins. If you don’t see the value of this work, do not start on this path; if you do, then it’s already too late. Show your students that complete presence is possible; and reflect back the mental blocks that keep them from being present. You must ONLY be concerned with your students’ growth and awakening. And, your student must know this. Just as the body needs to trust you in asana practice to open, the student needs to trust you. Catalyze a perceptible change in your student, and if your approach is not working, try a different route (just like in asana practice). You have a responsibility to remind your students of the miracle and the beauty of the human body. The body is a gift. Can you learn/teach to take care of this gift?

You have to use resistance to open: challenge what you hold to be true. You are not that, not that. You are not the body, not your mind. You are not your thoughts, not your feelings. Neti Neti. Challenge what you thought you knew. What is the natural posture you are trying to get back to? What is the deepest You that you are trying to find? Do not look for the worms; aim for that which is permanent, not the ephemeral.

Say hello to yourself, on your mat, in this practice; show up! Where have you been your whole life? Start with your feet. Ground yourself. Start with your asana: sit your ass on the earth, and don’t float up into the ether. There is work to be done in the earthly realm. Where have your feet been your whole life?

Samskaras leave deep grooves, marks like scars. It takes unlearning the patterns to learn the correct way of being, without the ego driving the posture, running your life. What are the stories that you keep repeating? What stories have you fed yourself? Notice how the stress gets transferred always to the weakest link. Share the stress, so the stronger parts of you help heal that which is carrying the burden. Turn your gaze to that which calms the mind. Stop looking outside yourself: for support, for validation, for approval, for adoration. Turn your gaze within. Find a sense of home within yourself; find support inside. You are good at finding the easy way. The easy way out. There is no out, only in. Go inside, go deep within.

Do not halt; do not struggle. Do not halt the attempts at undoing the conditioned state; do not struggle when the task seems impossible; do not struggle and do not harm yourself; your yogic contract begins with ahimsa. Do not halt and do not struggle: a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…

(Recognize the symbolism in asana. When, in bhujapidasana we place the weight of the legs on the shoulders, the work is to heroically lift the chest and keep the heart open. In Navasana, when the tendency is to want to wilt and droop, we smile softly, and find sama; we abide in the state of equanimity rather than getting swayed by the difficulty.)

And lastly, do YOUR practice, and all is coming. But you’ve got to make sure that it is YOUR practice that you are doing. Do not impose the practice onto your body. The body responds to kindness