Thoughts from Teacher Training
Greetings from the Kelowna Teacher Training!
It is so great to be here in these first weeks, when there is so much enthusiasm, nervous energy, and open hearts. There really aren’t that many opportunities in this life to go into experiences where we are that open, vulnerable, and immersed in learning. We at the training never take it for granted that the experience is special and important for all who attend.
One thing that has really stuck out for me in the first few days here has been the ways in which the community is infused with a political imperative. We speak pretty freely about environmental awareness, and awareness for those who are overlooked, oppressed or ostracized, and how we as individuals all carry the capacity to be agents of change in the political landscape. Not everyone necessarily agrees with our thoughts and ideals, and that is okay. People in this community do not all have to have the same thoughts and actions. (That would be creepy.) But we all agree that we have an impact on the world and that with mindful consideration of our actions, we can indeed make a difference.
It brings to mind an image that I saw recently of Justin Trudeau (Canadian Prime Minister), John Tory (Toronto Mayor) and Kathleen Wynne (Ontario Premier) marching together in the Toronto Pride Parade. It is one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world and there is the leader of our country, the leader of the country’s biggest city, and the first gay Premier of Ontario showing their enthusiasm and support. (Wow, how great would it be to have a Moksha/Modo float in one of those parades!?!?) Especially in this post-Orlando shooting world! It is nice to know that the studios we have and the culture that creates them contain an implicit support for LGBT students and teachers. That is a political act. So too are studios that are offering free classes to those who can’t afford it, studios that offer women-only classes, and studios that consciously interact with the charities that receive karma funds.
Our yearly campaigns of Grow Your Yoga and Speak Your Peace are political acts. Green studio construction is a political act. Karma classes are a political act. And choosing to breathe mindfully and slowly is a political act. And that brings us back to the teacher training. The lectures that we provide are filled with science, history, teaching techniques, and philosophy. These inputs, combined with the bonding and informational qualities of the trainee presentations, serve to create individuals that are lit up by life and empowered to make a difference by virtue of being a part of something that is supported by a greater sangha.
Our hope is this: When people slow down in their lives and connect with breathing, body awareness and the subtle spirit of community, they start to become less reactive. When people are less reactive, they are less fearful, and so are less inclined to want to fill the holes in their heart with mindless consumerism. When people’s nervous systems settle down, they tend to not see ‘otherness’ is a threat. We see people with different colours of skin, different cultures, different religious beliefs and different political beliefs as part of a web that makes the world go around. This is what peace looks like when it starts. To sustain it requires much more than that, and that is where we all come in. Being a part of a sangha means that we are not just a community, but a community of people with a shared intention or purpose. And our purpose is to bring more peace into the world.
For sure it is not all unicorns and rainbows. Practice, activism and sangha all contain the seeds for confusion and disharmony. As was once said at our first teacher training, ‘Love brings up everything unlike itself’. We are human and we are flawed. Nothing is perfect when it goes through the filter of embodied egos, and that is okay. The point is that there is an intention in our practice, in our teaching, and in our community that supports the principle of positive social, environmental and individual change. Sometimes it is hard to remember this in a culture that strongly influences us to turn off our minds and ignore the problems of the world. We can get hardened and cynical at times, not to mention confused, and we don’t see how our actions mean anything. My answer to this is, imagine if everyone thought that way all the time. It would continuously reinforce itself so much so that it would become accepted as the way things should be. That would be sad. The seeds for that cynicism exist within us all, so may we all keep using our practice to create more peace in the world. And may we remember that there are those who are suffering that depend on us to practice and teach with deep intention. The kids who are recruited into wars, the animals that are treated as commodity in their cages, the girls who are brutalized because of their gender, the earth that is suffocating under climate change, and the people who do not have the same advantages as we do. They are all real things with real consequences, and we have a gift to give to help ease the greater suffering in the world. This is no small thing, and it gives our lives meaning and substance.
So thank you, all of you, for what you do to contribute to the balance in the world. Your practice, your voice, and your actions are powerful, and it is nice to know that we have a container to support that in this community. If you feel stuck, reach out to your teachers and fellow yoga practitioners to see how you can help share your passion projects. Perhaps the groups that we work with in karma classes or Grow Your Yoga need your help. Take a deep breath and jump on in. There is no way of failing when you are acting out of honourable impulses.
What I am really trying to say is, Be Peace!
Love you all,
Image courtesy of flaticon.com