Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Colombia and beyond...

Yesterday I started a tour of South America, 5 countries in about 3 1/2 weeks. It is a fun time to be teaching Jivamukti...the focus of the month is Brahmacharya and Veganism. When I travel I try not to teach too many workshops. I can only take so many backbending or inversion or standing workshops and I am sure others feel the same. I prefer to teach Open and Basic classes when I am on the road which means I have to teach the focus of the month. This can make it more accessible for different ages and levels. However it can be challenging. The focus of the month is usually a bit more intense then most people are use to. Especially when the focus is similar to this months. One of the benefits for myself, teaching an open class with a challenging focus in an area I have never been to and may only know a few people, is that I must find creative ways to grow and be comfortable in what may not be a very comfortable situation. Everywhere I go people seem to think their community or culture is very different from the rest of the world. In some obvious ways they are correct but for the most part we live in a world culture. "Jules you dont understand my family going back many generations has been eating meat, we barbecue we have large family dinners with a roast, my mom always made me chicken soup." Guess what? that is pretty much the same everywhere especially in affluent countries. According to the USDA, America is the largest beef producer and the second largest beef exporter (although wikipedia says it is Brazil, then Argentina both countries I will be teaching in). Americans are no stranger to a meat based culture, and being an American with Latin roots I am definitely no stranger. People always assume I have been vegan forever, since birth, that somehow I have it easy. Not true. I became vegetarian when I was 18 and vegan when I was 19. I have an aunt and uncle who have been vegan for many years. They were never shy about the issue and it always made me a bit uncomfortable. I resisted it for many years and it was not until I was in my last year of high school that I met someone who really motivated me to become vegetarian. He was incredible smart, a graffiti artist and very much loved being a counter culture type of person. I was drawn to the fact that his food choices did not make him a "not cool" person. That he was able to hang out, go to parties and not feel like he had to convert or argue the food issue. It allowed me to drop my psychic barriers and go a bit deeper and investigate vegetarianism on my own. I needed someone who was not going to hit me in the face with the message. Some people need that but I did not. What I needed was someone who was willing to be an example, have the info and hold the space for me to ask questions and explore. Of course my aunt and uncle had been doing it the whole time but I was not able to see them as cool until a bit later. I try to infuse that feeling of holding a safe space, whenever I am teaching. Bringing a sense of where I have come from, what my community and culture is like and how it is the same as the one I am in. Find some common ground and from there gain the trust that is necessary to broach the sensitive subjects in a short period of time. That comes from strong and intelligent sequencing (some humor always helps). The practices of asana, meditation and chanting all help to build that strong bind that will allow us to be a spokes person for the animal without being ashamed or afraid or feeling like our story is too different from other stories. Let our lights shine so that others have the confidence to do the same...brahmacharya-pratishthayam virya-labhah (PYS II.38)
When one does not misuse sexual energy, one obtains enduring vitality resulting in good health.

1 comment:

Natalia Currea Dereser said...

I think this is your focus of the month (Brahmacharya and Veganism, maybe more Brahmacharya) in Rainer Maria Rilke’s words ;) <3

"Sex [sexual energy]is difficult; yes. But those tasks that have been entrusted to us are difficult; almost everything serious is difficult; and everything is serious. If you just recognize this and manage, out of yourself, out of your own talent and nature, out of your own experience and childhood and strength, to achieve a wholly individual relation to sex (one that is not influenced by convention and custom), then you will no longer have to be afraid of losing yourself and becoming unworthy of your dearest possession.

Bodily delight is a sensory experience, not any different from pure looking or the pure feeling with , which a beautiful fruit fills the tongue; it is a great, an infinite learning that is given to us, a knowledge of the world, the fullness and the splendor of all knowledge. And it is not our acceptance of it that is bad; what is bad is that most people misuse this learning and squander it and apply it as a stimulant on the tired places of their lives and as a distraction rather than as a way of gathering themselves for their highest moments. People have even made eating into something else: necessity on the one hand, excess on the other; have muddied the clarity of this need, and all the deep, simple needs in which life renews itself have become just as muddy. But the individual can make them clear for himself and live them clearly (not the individual who is dependent, but the solitary man). He can remember that all beauty in animals and plants is a silent, enduring form of love and yearning, and he can see the animal, as he sees plants, patiently and willingly uniting and multiplying and growing, not out of physical pleasure, not out of physical pain, but bowing to necessities that are greater than pleasure and pain, and more powerful than will and withstanding" RMR