Musings from the bamboo woods
On my last week of another teacher training, this time somewhere in Hubei Province, China. We're surrounded by lush green bamboo and pine trees, rolling hills and valleys of running rivers and farm crops. The past 2 weeks we've had, have been chock full of rain and sunshine. The humidity, breath, body heat and perspiration of 33 bodies moving in synchronicity becomes the rhythm of life here at the retreat centre.
Holding space in an extended and intensive learning journey for others is a privileged and honorable mission, and one that I undertake as a learning journey for myself too. I try to find time daily to reflect and take stock, so I don't get too wrapped up in this bamboo haven, and get too absorbed into being a "teacher".
The contemplation usually begins with - how has each person, including myself, chosen to react or respond to this journey today. What has shifted? Not just in terms of information that is being taught within the curriculum, but the whole experience in its entirety. What was transpired, transmitted, and transformed? What is still stuck and rooted deeply? Most of us are so entrenched in our conditioning. In a culturally homogeneous environment such as here, one is always told to conform and see the teacher/teaching as the absolute. How do I, as a teacher, stay humble, and continue to be a light-bearer? How does one effect change so that yoga becomes an exploration that goes beyond how many certificates one has collected, or how many followers on social media, or how perfect a handstand is.
I pull apart what I observe, through the students, through the people within my current universe of this bamboo utopia.
I looked within my own learning as a teacher, I looked at my own resistance, my own conditioning, my ego.
What came up consistently over the last 2 weeks is ... The battle with Fear.
Fear is a big bubble of fragility that we live within. We fear the unknown, the unchartered territories... so we stick to formulas. We fear shame, we fear baring our vulnerability of others discovering our weaknesses, that we might know less than they thought we do. We fear disapproval if we don't conform. We fear being human, we fear we will never succeed, that we will never have enough. We fear our desires, afraid of what they might bring forth. Fear feeds upon itself, until we’re afraid of the fear, without even knowing why we fear.
Fear gives us our identity of who we are. Fear forms the barbed wire that keeps us locked within our ego. Fear is always coaxing us to cling on to instant gratifications. Fear gives us license to not own our truth. We place fear on a pedestal, and make ourself its servant. Through fear, we deny our sufferings, we deny the gifts of forgiveness, of letting go, of grace. We turn a blind eye to see the whole, we forego our capacity to gain awareness and expansion, we reject LOVE.
If we can just take a step back, see beyond our root of fear - our ego. We become quiet enough to see the nature of all things. There is a softening, followed by a cracking open of the shell that keeps us within. We shed the veils, the armour that we put on to protect us from fear itself. For a moment, we give up the idea of who we think we should be and what we think we should / shouldn't do. We stop denying and allow the process of suffering to become grace. We let our heart burst wide open and let go of what's holding us back.
Let's see what this new awareness would bring about. Let its beauty unfold.
Registered Yoga Therapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Yoga Teacher Trainer