For the last few months I have been on quite the journey…
An opportunity came up for me to teach Yoga in a remote town in Qld while I had come back from India to arrange my visa and finances for an extended trip. This is a mining town that has a lot of history and experienced intense difficulty. As a result, it is a complex town with a diverse group of people all mixed together creating an unusual culture/community landscape.
The polarities in this town are intense and they seemed to highlight my own inner polarities. I came to teach but I was definitely the student in this exchange which exposed many of my flaws…
I arrived with an intention to help this town by equipping the people with Yogic tools to navigate their lives more productively. The subplot of me coming was that I personally needed to save some money for my return journey and time in India and I think this subplot became the crux of the landslide that would ensue.
Expecting Yoga to return you anything, let alone money is never a good idea kids!!!
While I have taught for many years in large cities, I have never taught classical yoga nor have I taught in rural communities and so I put my knowledge, skill, brightly coloured yellow clothing, shaved head and buoyed experiences gained from India into the mix of this complexity with total optimism yet naivety of what I was actually doing.
I am known by my family and friends to take the ‘hard road’, to be intense and invite difficulty into my life, which most people would not dream of undertaking (I often have to forge new territory or provide a counter-weight to the status quo) which I handle with varying degrees of competence…I never really thrive but I do survive and learn a lot from pushing myself well beyond my perceived limits. I have never been a tempered or measured personality…it’s all or nothing!
In a recent blog post, Dirty Filthy Love, I mentioned that I had been gifted with much Love, enthusiasm, encouragement and support for my unique skills while in India and am devastated with the way I have so quickly moved back into my default conditioning at the expense of these newly offered gifts when tested. I feel flawed that I hurt more than I helped, that I stopped trusting and relying on the bigger picture, that my altruistic aims where hijacked by personal fears and habits. Ultimately, I have defeated myself with my basic nature which so quickly swamped that goodness – and I continue to do this! Am I dumb or just a sucker for punishment? As a result, I sit here with just a few weeks to go with carnage all around…
The only thing left to do is reflect on what the hell went wrong!
My increasing and consuming self-interest that arose and absence of my hearts intention to SERVE LOVE GIVE, is what I think generated this outcome.
TEACHER STUDENT of STUDENT TEACHER
Firstly, there was a local teacher who was finishing her studies and as I mentioned that I would like someone to take over when I leave, she announced herself and asked if I could support her training, to which I agreed. Yet all my conditioning kicked in – all the difficulties I have endured as a student by tyrannical teachers who demanded me to peel off my skin, change my form and be anything except who I was (Heaven forbid, I accept myself as I am) was offered! I became them and applied the same critical lenses to her with the ‘intention of making her a better teacher’. Clearly as a self-respecting individual, she was having none of it and told me to go to hell. I was confused and angry that she was ‘weak’ and didn’t want to learn what I had to offer but clearly she was teaching me a lesson in Love. Self-Love and Kindness to others, that perhaps one can learn through support and encouragement rather than difficulty and abuse. I had experienced this once before from a teacher just a few years ago who brought a somatic psychotherapeutic model into his teachings, suggesting that we do our best when we are at our best – loved, relaxed and open, not tense, stressed or compressed. More recently and more clearly, I encountered this radical loving support during my last trip to India which, by now is a distant memory – this beautiful gift not offered to myself or others.
THE MEAN MIND
Additionally, the classes were not doing well. I was teaching far too many classes which exhausted my energies with very few people attending which created financial imbalance and I felt frustrated in my efforts and ambitions to help – I was exhausting both my personal and financial resources and I started obsessing. A quiet indignation and resentment crept in which would express itself in thoughts like;
“Don’t they know I am here to help”, “Why are these people not coming to class – they need this”, “I came all this way for them and they can’t even turn up to class”, “Why do they spend so much money on booze, toys, travel and beauty when they ‘should’ be investing in what matters – they ‘need’ it”, “I need to get back to India, how many people need to come to this class to help me get there”
… yep – I was out of control! This was the incessant churning of my mind which amplified as I was too often alone, without anyone to correct or guide my thinking towards a positive outlook. I have a long way to go in terms of managing myself by myself! I have seen so clearly that I am nowhere near as independent and self-reliant as I thought I was. I wore like pride that I don’t need people or partners to keep me going but this is just not true…I am weak and a true dependent on needing love, support and direction towards my evolution.
SELLING AND LASHING OUT
This then lead to me trying on different classes to try and attract a different crowd in the hope that it would become financially viable and ‘useful’ for me to be here (forgetting that I came to SERVE LOVE GIVE) …This only led to confusion from and loss of students who would come expecting classical but would be offered a high intensity modern yoga (which some people just got up and left from) and my own integrity niggling in the form of an ache in my heart, that I was not offering what works but trying to make it work for me.
The resultant frustration at all of these experiences, lead to me being less than tolerant with someone during one of the more challenging classes. She politely informed me that she was not coming back to class and that as a teacher I should not express my frustrations towards students…which of course she is right. This feedback gathered momentum around the town (small towns have a very strong and powerful grapevine!) and now even fewer people were coming to class!
I was at my wits end and this sent me into a tailspin about my value as a teacher – who was I to be teaching anyone anything when I am like this … I didn’t want to teach at all anymore, to anyone, ever again, and yet I had to stay to handover, and support the upcoming events. I had nowhere to run and so had to sit with this knowing of my doubts, flaws and weaknesses in a town that was also now also keenly aware of my humanness. I stopped wearing yellow and collapsed into a broken mess (which two friends can attest to, as they tried so kindly and beautifully to perform remote surgery)
Finally, there was the momentous event which catalyzed my failure. The girl who had invited me here needed me to help her partner drive to Brisbane to get a Tattoo during a few days off that I had. I was tired and didn’t want to go but said yes as she asked, I needed to get out of town and I would get a chance to see my family which is a rare treat these days. Doing things, I don’t want is never a good idea but when I am in at this reduced stage of my tolerance – it was only ever going to be disastrous!
My family situation is often difficult and hurts my heart. This is as a result from the life I have chosen (I am very different from them) and exchanges with them can go either way – mostly I get criticized, judged or condemned for being a failure or not quite right and so it was with trepidation that I went to see them. Additionally, asking them for anything, including somewhere to stay fills me with terror, in that I might get berated for not doing this living thing right. They graciously let us stay in their house and we have a nice first evening. And then it all fell apart. I felt used and deceived about going on the trip and then judged and criticized for being me – all the wounds that I carry were opened and as always I came out swinging. I exploded a new friendship and undid some positive personal work within my family … it was a bad day!
There was a broken yoga teacher somewhere in the middle of QLD, waiting for the lights to change.
WHERE IS THE LOVE
And then the lights changed. I get a call from the teacher who most inspires me … who has been through the ringer and come out as only Love. An example of how the Yogic process can work for people who have been written off, are different or difficult, but only if they are willing and ready to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and work again towards their lofty aim of transformation…overcoming their small self to reach their divine nature.
She reminds me of my purpose, of the work I need to do, that this was a just a training exercise to learn more about me (and boy did I learn about me!) and teaching and that the sparkle of Love that so effortlessly flows within me when I am at my best is radiantly powerful. That I need to drop the self-obsession and step back into service – to serve, love and give to others fully without ever needing anything in return, which was the aim with which I came but lost somewhere along the way. To ride and share this inexhaustible fountain of Love which self-perpetuates at the centre of my being which has been awakened and experienced. My self-interests had robbed me of my kindness, generosity and love along with all the good intentions and investments offered to me by my teachers, for others.
And so now I am here in this place for a few more weeks and I have to bring back the light, love and my highest nature and sow it in the soil I have soiled…in the hope that by serving, loving and giving to others, I again may love myself.
OM TAT SAT