Thursday, November 6, 2014

Practice, Prepare, Teach

Practice, Prepare, Teach

I am writing this from a coffee shop in Beijing, China. It is November 2nd. Some mark it as the 2nd day of the month but due to my study habits I mark it as the second day of the focus of the month. Each month Jivamukti, usually via our teacher Padmaji (Sharon Gannon) releases a “Focus of the Month” (FotM). The overall effect is that if you are a practitioner of Jivamukti and go to an Open level class you will have an experience of a single theme through the multitude of personalities, experiences and knowledge of the individual teachers that make up the Jivamukti Lineage. 

I cannot express how immensely important the FotM is for me both a s teacher and a student. However I would like to share how I use it and how it guides my practice and teaching using this months focus as an example. 

The FotM is titled Soul Power and has a corresponding selection from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali chapter 4 verse 28: 
hanam esham kleshavad uktam"The greatest obstacle to the practice is one’s own prejudices based on one’s own preferences.

The translation is Padmaji’s own and is very similar to that of Shri Brahmananda Saraswati’s translation. I would highly recommend reading the whole 4th chapter in at least two different translations putting the verse and the translation into context. 

The first thing I do is read over the whole of the FotM and the teaching tips. I then highlight the sections of the focus that really resonant with me. As with all teachings I may not be ready to accept or feel comfortable teaching each and every aspect of what is presented. I have faith in my teacher that we must look deeply into what we are being told and to uncover the truth for ourselves. If I am not sure about a certain point in the focus I leave it and come back to it later. The sentence that I am choosing to use in tonights class at Le Yoga in Beijing is the following: 

“Our culture of materialism, exploitation and utter disregard for the well-being of other animals, all of nature and the Earth herself is inching us ever closer to a breaking point, while at the same time we are undergoing a huge shift in consciousness.” 

This is something that I truly believe and feel comfortable sharing and discussing with students who I do not know in a land that I am only superficially familiar. I do know that all beings can relate to feeling exploited for the temporary enjoyment or financial use of another. We can look around and see the pollution and the correlating ills in the external and internal environment. Each day, if we are willing we can discover our own ignorance, expose our prejudices to the light of inquiry thereby shifting our consciousness.

We will begin tonights class (a three hour inversion workshop) with these ideas. Most people are afraid of what it means to turn the world upside down as it will necessarily mean looking at the world in a new way. Confronting fear of our normal way of being as well as the instinct to “play it safe” even though the short term gains are minuscule in comparison to the long term detriment. 

If we can look at ourselves in a new light perhaps there is hope to alleviate the suffering of others as well. Peace, Love and Vegetables. 

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