I view my life as a complex adaptive system (CAS), a series of nested feedback loops. Some appear complete in themselves, but all are interrelated: anthropology, family, gym, yoga, plus those other parts of my life I don’t write much about here such as Advaita, camping, bushwalking, geocaching, and birdwatching. What happens in one part of the CAS that is my life cycles around, causes a ripple and eventually affects others in a lesser or greater manner. There are many dependent variables and unexpected outcomes – all intertwined.
I haven’t mapped my life as a CAS yet, however I believe it would be a useful tool for monitoring depression and understanding one’s own psychology. Data could be easily collected through keywords in a diary and then mapped using one of the network mapping tools that maps links between websites … but I significantly digress!
Contiguous with my teacher training experience have been other ripples upon the threads of my CAS. This is the story of the second thread: the gym.
I resigned from teaching group fitness classes last month because of the continual drain on my time and the angst it was causing. In addition, for the past 6 months, they (the gym) had asked me whether I would be available to teach the Thursday night yoga class (this is a class I locum for), as the yogi who teaches it would no longer be available in the New Year. I said yes.
Later that month, I was told via email communication that yoga on a Thursday night was no longer certain (a variety of flimsy reasons were given) – but they were desperate for Body Attack instructors. I replied to this email, proposing a win/win solution: I will (again) help with Body Attack if they reconvene the Thursday night yoga class. I even offered to purchase proper yoga equipment (several thousand dollars worth) for them to use. I said I would discuss this when I returned from a work trip.
When I called to discuss a week later, I was immediately accused of blackmail in making such an offer. I countered, saying no, it wasn’t blackmail, it was negotiation. There was some to-ing and fro-ing, and I ended the phone call, (I was upset inside but remained civil and respectful to the other party), conceding that there would be no negotiation on behalf of the gym.
I confided to my partner and to my only real friend amongst the other instructors at the gym … and after considering their advice, decided to let it go. If they aren’t serious about yoga at this particular gym (NB: many gyms are serious about yoga!), and I really don’t want to spend my lunchtimes practicing choreography, then I am not going to pursue the teaching of yoga here.
Oddly enough, the person who I’d been talking to on the phone sent me a text later that evening saying that they’d reconsidered Thursday night yoga … but by then it was too late. I had let it go.
I returned to the Satyananda community yesterday morning. This class is everything that yoga can be. Mahadevananda (Pat) started with a reading about Swami Sivananda’s life. We chanted seven Aums. We did a little pranayama and mediation prior to commencing asana. There was no posing and preening. You don’t feel like you’re unworthy because you can’t get your foot to your head in Natarajasana (don’t even start me on this kind of stuff!). This class is so deep, so pure. Mahadeva radiates joy and humility. And wisdom. (Tears in my eyes, my heart instantly open, Hari Om Tat Sat).
After class, some of us visit a local café. Three of the other Satyananda students have commenced teacher training in that tradition. Their experiences are so different to mine – challenging but authentic. I can see their joy and connection in their words and actions. They are so much of what I expected to find in teacher training. They re-integrate me into their community, we talk and I feel better. Something shifts inside. An alignment. Suddenly, I feel ok about yoga again. I even think I might like to return to teaching someday, if I am worthy.
Later, I am at a family club in town (the Gillen Club) for Valentine’s with my partner. We encounter the town’s most experienced yoga teacher. She’s the one who’s been holding the yoga fort (so to speak) at the gym where I teach. I have locumed for her many times. She tells me she is opening her own yoga mandir in March, complete with mandala garden! She invites me to come and teach without hesitation. She too is tired of the dirty room (this is a story I won’t even begin to relate), the deference, the lip service at the gym. I accept.
What can I take from this?
1. Always be true to yourself
2. Always practice non-attachment
Do you see the connection? The depth of teaching I have received in this experience.
Don’t lie. Especially to yourself. Make space. Let go.
Hari Om Tat Sat