Being Human

March 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

This week’s reflections have centered around what it means to be human.

It started off with this really personal sharing from my yoga teacher, a sweet tribute to Guruji peppered with some important questions about what our relationship is with this whole thing called  “the yoga practice”.

A few hours later, I read the Vanity Fair piece, which I really really liked. I thought it gave a balanced look at the current state of affairs in a post-Guruji world without succumbing to the temptation of polarizing sides and sensationalizing the details. In that light, I guess the “trophy wife” dig was perhaps an erroneous concession to pacify the haters ( I use this term loosely) and generate more clicks.

Thinking about the whole Jois-shala-in-Encinitas issue got me wondering how senior Ashtanga teachers and practitioners deal with their anger and negative emotions – one of many facets of our human nature. I’ve been doing yoga, on and off, for nine years now, Ashtanga for two out of the nine, and while I can see small changes in my tendency to fly off the loose end of rage and impatience, the fact is, it’s still there and still very much a part of me. When I find myself hating other drivers on the road, being passive aggressive in my relationships and just turning into a well-rounded self-righteous b*%#h, I start to wonder about the efficacy of my practice and its real impact on my off-mat behavior. And I haven’t found any answers. Not that I know what I’m looking for anyway. Quite possibly, as Tim Feldmann puts it, I have an expectation that yoga is the ‘magic pill’ that will erase all complexities and ugly behaviors that I don’t want to see in myself. Which, of course, it doesn’t do. It doesn’t come in the dark and take away the trash while I’m asleep. I actually have to take the trash out myself, which involves facing it, packing it up and throwing it out. And facing it is difficult, but what do you do when the only way out is through? You faffle, hem and haw, procrastinate, avoid, deny….manifestations of the ego trying to save itself and stay in its comfortable cocoon. Ashtanga wrecks that cocoon.

In many ways, having a dedicated yoga practice is a little like fighting myself. My practice digs out the accumulated “trash” from my small existence, and then I spend the rest of the day trying to avoid the fact that there’s trash that needs clearing. Conflicted, much? Will there ever be harmony? Is all this discomfort worth it?

At times like this, when there are no clear cut answers, you need a guru to cut through the crap and say: “YOU DO!!!”

That’s what makes a teacher a guru – someone who can see you for who you are, and isn’t afraid to kick your butt. That’s why we love our gurus, even if, fundamentally, they are human too, just like us.

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