"If you think you know God keep searching
If you're searching for God, then God is with you"
Being a yoga teacher/practitioner is a funny thing. In the beginning when you know you don't know much it is perhaps much simpler to teach. Because you begin with the basics of the body. Teaching physical alignment is pretty straight forward once you understand how joints work. But then one day you remember that yoga is about body, mind and spirit and slowly most of us move into working with the mind through meditation, contemplation and observation. This ineffably nebulous mental arena thankfully does have perimeters. Neuroscience is beginning to explain how our patterns of thought affect us and how we can affect them. So far using the canvass of the body and mind there is stuff to teach. and that is what teachers do: teach, right?
But, of course, time marches on and when you spend enough time working with the body and refining the mind then the subject of spirit inevitably arises. When the loud voice of the mind quiets a bit then there is room for that still small whisper of spirit to arise.
For the sake of this discussion let's define the human spirit as "the part of us that is reaching for growth" Our spirits are a beautiful and deep part of us that lead us both inward to our Inner Witness and outward to God. And in this journey the intention is to surrender our small self to this Mystery.This is a personal journey that cannot be "taught" but perhaps can be shared and perhaps can be supported.
And this is the conundrum. Whether one is a preacher a teacher or just a busy body, trying to "teach" someone about spirit is often the very thing that stifles spirit. When I think about helping someone else nurture their spirit the only way I know how is to connect to my own spirit and the challenge is, in trying to connect to our Highest Selves we are blind women feeling Monets water lilies. In the beginning all seems safe and well because all we feel is a wooden frame. "Aha", we think, "this is the box in which I can keep spiritual matters." And we walk around with our little God box feeling pretty good.
But then one day something deep in our spirit whispers to us and we discover there is a canvass within the frame. So we reach out a trembling hand and run it across the canvass and begin to carefully feel both the smoothness and the textures. We think perhaps that God is bigger than the wooden frame and we have discovered some holy paradox. In our wildest imaginings we cannot yet conceive of the wash of colors we're missing. But perhaps we are highly kinesthetic and have someone's eyes to guide us and we can feel the textures of the blues and the grays and we begin to form a mental image of the painting.
Obviously for a blind person to observe art to this level it would take years of effort and perhaps imagining everything within the frame would be satisfying enough that they might stop there.
And yes, I might find myself quite satisfied to gaze upon Monets masterpiece, but deep down we know this painting is merely a representation of something beautiful To completely and totally understand Monets painting is NOT to completely and totally understand the slice of nature he was portraying. And so I circle back to the paradox of yoga. What we are learning is actually unlearning.
What we are gaining is only what we will let go of. This journey whether we teach yoga or just practice is a long walk to nowhere. If we think that we can stop in front of the painting after years of working to understand it, then we will miss the subject of the painting. If you think you've "got it" then theres lots more practice to be done. But when you can be kind to yourself abiding in the Mystery and release the need to understand then perhaps you have stepped out of the art gallery and stand at the edge of the pond. But to leave the art gallery and stand with the water lilies is just the beginning. We have yet to dive in ....