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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Encouragement for sharing Yoga with all

I noticed that many Yoga students are struggling with uncertainty, lack of confidence and depression. Even as Yoga teachers we are still a student and are learning unceasingly and going through lots of turbulances.

This is a common mind ‘disease’ that is affecting lots of us. But actually it is nothing wrong and very normal for everybody.

Sometimes we feel good about ourselves, and sometimes we feel bad about ourselves. This is nothing wrong at all if we understand that this is the characteristic of all minds. It is not us. It is just a temporary flow of good feeling or bad feeling arising and passing away in our mind. All we need to do is (actually we don’t need to do anything) just observing these feelings of up and down and let them pass by and disappear without attaching to them, nor identify with them, and not generate any reaction, like and dislike according to these feelings.

But people who don’t understand this will see this happening of so called ‘mood swing’ as something not good, bad, or craziness. They categorize this mood swing is some kind of madness. It is because sometimes we are behaving nicely due to good mood and sometimes we are behaving nastily due to bad mood. At one moment we are laughing and another moment we are crying according to what we encounter with. It does look like madness. In fact everyone is having this ‘madness’ in our mind whether we show it through our facial expressions and bodily actions or not.

It is very normal that we will react to how we feel at the moment, or even react to how we felt in the past. Sometimes when we think of an unhappy incident that had happened many years ago, we will still feel some emotional pain and feel unhappy.

It is like we will judge someone with the past experiences or events that had happened before. It is because we still identify ourselves with our feelings and emotions, we are still identifying with the mind and the ego. It is also because we still caught up in the past, we haven’t realized that the only existent is the present moment.

It also depends on our level of attachment towards the past experiences or memories that determines our wrong view or ignorance about which is real and which is unreal? We are in confusion most of the time. Everything seems unclear to us.

Sometimes we feel happy and feel everything is easy for us when our mood is good, but we feel bad and feel everything is difficult for us when our mood is bad.

If this condition of mood swing continues to go on, there is possibility that we might get lost in these feelings of up and down, and become really crazy one day, when we lost the ability to control our feelings and emotions, and we are lost in the past memories and imaginations. We will be laughing, or crying, or angry, or depress due to the thoughts arising and passing away in our mind, even though in the present moment, in real there is nothing happening. We will be talking to our own self or shouting into the space thinking that there is someone there.

And so, we should be watchful about the mind all the time and maintain the ability to control over our mood swing, before it is too late.

Why shouldn’t we judge someone with the past experiences or events?
It’s because everything is changing all the time. Every mind is changing all the time. Personality is changing. Likes and dislikes are changing all the time. Everyone including ourselves is changing from time to time, from good to bad, from bad to good. From ignorance to wisdom, it can happen just within a single moment and from wisdom to ignorance, it can change within a second.

We are always changing from moment to moment even without us being aware of it. Sometimes we love someone very much but sometimes we feel disgust towards this same person. Sometimes we don’t love someone but one day we could be falling in love with that same person.

Everything that we like and dislike is ever-changing impermanent, whether if it is our sense of taste, smell, touch, seeing, hearing or thinking.

This is happening to everybody until the moment we stop identifying with the mind and the ego. And as long as we identify with our feelings and emotions, we will be moody all the time and not peaceful.

For example, a man that had been a very good person before can become very selfish and wicked after sometimes we didn’t see him. Or a man, who did something very bad in the past, might have become a very good person now. Or a person who have been very ignorant but might have gained wisdom after some time and a man who used to be wise might become deluded now.

So how can we judge anybody at all, including ourselves?

At this present moment, ‘this’ action will bring ‘this’ effect, and ‘that’ action will bring ‘that’ effect. Everything is a cause and effect. That’s all.

If a person told a lie before and people don’t trust him anymore, it is because of his action and he had created such cause for himself. He deserves not being trusted by other people due to his action, but this doesn’t determine that he is a liar or he will tell lies forever. Even though someone who is very honest in the past will not determine that he will not tell lies at all.

If we can stop mixing the past experiences (good or bad) with what we are doing now, it will reduce so much obstacle, unhappiness, doubt, fear and worries.

Good experiences might make us feel proud and lack of full effort in pursuing what we are doing now. And bad experiences might make us feel low self-esteem and full of negative thinking towards ourselves and other people.

As a Yoga teacher, at the beginning of teaching classes, we might not be so experienced yet in the technique of teaching classes. And due to nervousness we might make some mistakes in giving the instructions. We might get some feedback or criticism from the students. Sometimes the students stop coming for the classes. There maybe a lot of gossip about us and our classes.

Even though some people have been teaching for years and taught very good classes before, still sometimes we will still make mistakes or teach a lousy class.

So what? Are we going to be defeated and feel bad about ourselves and reluctant to teach classes anymore and feel low self esteem for the rest of our life, telling ourselves that we are not a good teacher? If we think like this, it means we are really not a good Yoga teacher because we don’t understand the true meaning of Yoga.

What the students really need to learn from us is detachment and cheerfulness. Not the quality of an Asana class. Asana class is ultimately teaching us about Vedanta philosophy, not just about learning how to perform the Asana. If a Yoga teacher can teach us how to thin out our ego, and show us what is detachment and non-dualism, then he or she is a good Yoga teacher. If a Yoga teacher can give a very good Asana class, performing and teaching many difficult acrobatic movements but doesn’t know what detachment is and doesn’t teach us about non-dualism and how to thin out the ego, then he or she is just a good physical fitness teacher only.

How are we going to cheer up others, encourage others and correct others wrong views if we ourselves have wrong views and low self esteem? Actually it is the ego feeling embarrassed and feels bad when we react to any feedback or criticism from anybody, whether it comes from the students or from our teacher or from other people.

Anyway lots of people who attend Yoga classes might not truly understand the meaning of Yoga and they will react to other people’s performance especially towards bad performance. It’s because they have a worldly minded habit of judging and criticizing everything that they come in contact with. They still have strong attachment to likes and dislikes.

One day they will like this teacher or the classes taught by this teacher, and one day they will dislike this same teacher and dislike the classes taught by this teacher. Also, sometimes they will like themselves and sometimes they don’t like themselves. So, why do we allow ourselves to depend on these people’s judgment or being determined by these people’s point of view based on a few classes that they have attended?

And if one day we teach a ‘good class’ and the students give us some good feedback and compliments, will that make us feel good and proud, and longing to teach the next class? If that’s the case, then we really are ignorant and being controlled by our ego. What Yoga are we going to teach to the students if we are affected by our own strong ego?

If a person truly understands the meaning of Yoga, he or she will not judge or criticize anything or anyone at all. Real Yoga practice will eventually lead us to stop judging and criticizing others and our own self, because we know how to detach from duality. When we detach from duality, there will be nothing out there for us to judge, to complain about, to criticize, to compare or to like and dislike.

He or she will be full of compassion and patience to accept both our abilities and weaknesses, and allow us to grow and improve in a slow process. A city is not being built within one day or one month. It takes years.

This is the essential learning for all Yoga students if they want to learn what Yoga really is.

This is also the same philosophy that all the Yoga teachers who want to be a good Yoga teacher should learn and practice - detach from duality, have compassion and patience, accept the abilities and weaknesses of the students, allow them to grow and improve in a slow process without any judgment, criticism, comparison, complaint and have no preferences or likes and dislikes.

Most important is that we accept our ability at this present moment and accept that we have weaknesses that need to be improved. We want to improve ourselves because we want to become a better human being and a better Yoga teacher, and not because we are being criticized by others and being challenged by our own ego.

In the end, what matters is not whether the students like our classes or not. It is not whether we can teach a good class or not. It is not about many people attend our classes or not.

What matters is the detachment from our teaching and our actions, detachment from judgment and criticism, detachment from the reactions from anybody and detachment from all the students.

Keep in mind that, every single hero or champion or successful person in the world, started his journey step by step, gained experience over time and learnt from many mistakes. We need to keep an open mind about any complaints, criticism and judgment from anybody, but not let these worldly acknowledgments affect us and our self-confidence at all. If we make a mistake, it doesn’t mean that we are not good. It doesn’t mean that we won’t improve and become better. It doesn’t matter if we make lots of mistakes and receive lots of criticism. Do not let it determine our ability and our path towards self evolution.

If we stop doing what we are doing just because we think that we are not good enough, or we received criticism saying that we are not good enough, then this is not Yoga practice. Yoga is to thin out the ego, detach from duality, detach from praise and censure, good and bad feelings. Keep going, never give up.

The Truth is no one will be good enough in any field in this world. But everyone also is good enough to do anything that they want to do and to express themselves freely. Everyone has the opportunity to learn and be better. It doesn’t matter if everyone prefers to go right but you prefer to go left. Be brave to explore something that we don’t know. Everything is uncertain in this world, except birth, growth, old age, illnesses and death.

Weaknesses and mistakes are not bad things at all. They make us humble and let us learn and improve ourselves in life.

We need to accept our weaknesses with an open heart and learn from our mistakes, and listen to other people’s suggestions to improve ourselves but not to be too sensitive about other people’s criticism and point of view until it affects our self-confidence and it becomes an obstacle for us in the path towards enlightenment and sharing Yoga with others.

Yoga practice is a self-healing and purification process. If we are doing the right practice it is an energetic and cheerful approach. Even though sometimes, during the purification process, lots of negative thoughts and feelings that were hidden deep in the subconscious mind will come up to the surface.
We might feel very low energy or feel bad, but it is just a temporary process. We should be careful not to identify ourselves with this negativity, not to generate reactions and let them go eventually.

There will be lots of good and bad feelings and emotions crop up during our regular and intense Yoga practice. As a Yoga teacher, we need to be able to recognize the purification process that we are going through from time to time and we should be able to heal ourselves emotionally, physically and mentally. Then only we can help others and guide others to do self-healing as well.

Sometimes we feel like crying and are depressed. Sometimes we feel angry and violent. Sometimes we feel lustful and full of desires. Sometimes we have very strong craving for certain things. Sometimes we have strong disgust for certain things. Sometimes we feel everything is against our wishes. Anything can come up to the surface to be released and to unblock our energy channels, and to help us evolve spiritually, if we are really sincere and regular in our Yoga practice.

Do not be afraid of the purification process. It is a step for everyone to go through if we want to know the Truth.

Many people stop their practice because they have fear when they encounter an intense purification process. Sometimes the purification process manifests itself not just emotionally but also physically and mentally. We might have pain or sickness in the physical body. Sometimes it manifests in our dreams as well. During this time, it is important to have the guidance of a teacher to explain and to encourage the students to continue practice and guide them how to deal with those difficult times, and support them during the purification process.

After each purification process, we will feel lighter and easier in our practice. We will gain more strength emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Everything will become clearer and more understandable for us. We will be able to let go some of the attachments that we couldn’t let go in the past. We will become more confident and calmer. Fear and worries will become less. We will become more energetic and cheerful than before.

Just remember that Yoga practice is purification and detachment. Keep working on these two elements. You will be fine at anytime, anywhere and doing whatever, if you know how to stay detached.

Our mind likes to express itself through judgment, criticism and comparison towards others. Some of the ideas might be constructive for people, but most of the time they are destructive and will pull down other people’s spirit and self-esteem. Most of the time our ego is being jealous or unhappy about other’s performance and ability, and it wants to attack other people with judgment, criticism and comparison.

As Yoga students, when we want to judge or criticize ourselves or others, when we start to compare ourselves with ourselves in the past or in the future, or compare ourselves with others, or compare other people with one another, know that this is not Yoga practice. Keep watching what our mind and the ego want us to do, and then let go the idea of wanting to judge, to criticize and to compare, especially about our teacher. It doesn’t matter if we are more experienced than the teacher, we should respect the teacher and support the teacher who wants to learn and improve, like all of us.

As Yoga teachers, there shouldn’t be any comparison and competition between Yoga teachers or between ourselves and the students. And Yoga classes are not a business that is in competition among different Yoga centers.
May we all develop wisdom, compassion and patience.

May all beings be happy.

1 comment:

  1. I am a teacher now at the place where i learn my yoga. From a student to a teacher, this never be easy. But my teacher always tell us, never compare and i am truly and sincerely listen to her! I am still survive. hahaha...
    One main thing that keep me going on is my wish to be able to share the beauty of yoga and be able to share the true meaning of yoga to others. I might not fully aware of the so-called the truth of yoga is, but i do know simplicity. As things are too simple to get, people tend to search for it and thought that it is so complicated and far from ourselves. But the truth is, it is just right inside of us, just like the peace and happiness are just right inside us.
    Me, myself after years of practice and a year of teaching experience, i came to the so-called 'grey area' where my mind blank and i don't know what to teach and what to share.i can't even barely aware what am i talking about. But i still keep on, because i have my believe. Believe in yoga, Believe in my teacher and my responsibility to my students.
    I told myself never ever be effected by the number of students in my class, never ever be effected by the expression or doubt that some of the students may show in their face. It is where i learn and practice my detachment.Cause i truly believe that i am doing now, the sharing, people out there who still have doubts and unhappiness in their life just like what i have been through, need this. If i have the opportunity to share, it is my blessing. I have been waiting for this for so long. By sharing, my doubt on the purpose of my life has gone. Last time, i used to search, search for answer that why i am here?why people are unhappy? What should i do?? But now, i have no doubt at all.
    I came to understand and believe in faith. If this person who have faith, he/she will come to my class and when i have the opportunity to share with them and make them happier, that's my blessing and their blessing as well. If nothing change, it also doesn't matter. As the world is comprised of perfection and imperfection.This is where i learn to accept the nature of life.
    If you have the opportunity to teach and share, be blessing. never compare yourself to yourself, never compare your teacher to yourself, never compare yourself with other teacher. We are different in each individual. Share with others what u have benefited from the yoga, share the happiness and peaceful you gain from the yoga, share your experience.Along the way, what u learnt and realised, how the doubt and negativity turn to detachment, share this with your students.
    Bless every moment that u have this healthy body and the opportunity to share.


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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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