November 22, 2017
Reflections of Light and Shadow
It has been a full year since I wrote with news. And i
t has been a roller coaster of a year.
Between last thanksgiving and this one I have often felt myself running full tilt to keep up, constantly buffered by elements of external and internal storms, through this wild ride called life.
On personal and professional levels--really on all levels-- this year has proved forceful in education. I will remember this as a defining time of reckoning.
On a large scale, natural storms rage ever stronger, Mother Earth screams at us that we might yet help her. So too, most political, cultural an
d interpersonal storms s
eem to be increasing in ferocity.
I have ingested larger helpings of poison and toxicity than in prior years combined; and pain has never ravaged my heart as fiercely. On the other hand, love is FAR deeper and better and bigger than I knew it to be; my connections above ground and roots below ground have upended my insight into possibility (and I began as a believer).
I have strengthened my muscles of compassion -- more frequently and more readily imagining the places and positions of others. An interesting outgrowth of this work is I more fully appreciate the hard truth that simultaneity of human experience is a figment of collective imagination. Still-- individual and collective development of empathic skill has never been more important.
There has been more than one major shift in our business structure and business model.
The tumultuous churning of life has included every last possession we have; and for the past month we have been moving house. We said goodbye to our home, which Tracy bought some 20 years ago, and we moved into a lovely house nearby in the Larchmont Village area. I have a small yoga studio again here, and have been here at home for weeks now filming up a veritable yoga tsunami for you all to enjoy soon (more about this below).
I have endured some months of attack on social media, and Tracy and I continue to be bullied by a small but persistent handful of people--who largely do not know me, what I teach, or how I teach it. Perhaps one day I will have more thoughts to share on this subject when I return to the habit of writing more regularly. I am fine. We are fine. All is well enough.
The experiences and gifts of this time have proved immensely fertile for deep and fast learning and have sparked a good deal of change in my life and in the lives of my family and our yoga community. Carpe Diem.
We got kittens.
(For sake of equanimity, our 3 dogs are thankfully still alive too.)
Times of great struggle and difficulty are fertile with potency and nourishment. So, for me, this has been a time of deep listening. I have been quiet --receding much in my own shadows lately. I have been exploring in the cave of my heart-- in the embrace of family.
I have been in a time of looking inside. I have been carefully listening to the voices within, to my uncertainties and insecurities, to my doubts and vulnerabilities, as well as to my hopes and aspirations. I've been looking into my darkness and observing my known blind spots to see what else has previously been occluded, or to see what I have perhaps not needed to see before, or those things I have perhaps refused to acknowledge. I am also searching to discover what more still lies waiting in the darkness.
With the constant barrage of divisive politics and an increasing and disturbing lack of moral leadership here in the US, I think I'm not alone in feeling simultaneously activated, deeply fatigued and somewhat traumatized by our current state (not to mention environmental concerns). It is a daily struggle to find the balance between staying checked in, connected to others, informed and engaged in very real and important events, and the strong desire to stick my head in the sand and stop paying attention. I am aware of my growing sense of "numbing out" in the wake of the waves.
I am not a proponent of numbness.
We must, each one of us, find ways to navigate stormy times.
Not a surprise-- my musings take me to yoga philosophy and the opening of the Bhagavadgita. There, at a time of great crisis Krishna advises Arjuna about the fluctuations and extreme boundaries of experience. Krishna promises the diametric and antipodal. We only know a zenith in relationship to its opposite. And we know ourselves--we learn ourselves--most clearly at the boundaries of experience.
The contacts of the senses with their objects, which produce sensations of cold and heat, comfort and discomfort, come and go without staying. Endure them. The wise hold alike happiness and unhappiness and are not troubled.
Look to your own dharma and do not waiver. So too you must act, without narrow self-interest, only looking to what holds the world together. People do whatever the best person does, as that person sets the standard of excellence that others follow.
Endurance, forbearance and stoicism are needed in times of onslaught.
My inner voice play-loop sounds something like: "Play the long game. Don't burn out. What you do matters. What we ALL do matters. We must do what we can to make this world better for our children and their children. Rise up. Be your best self now. Stand for dharma. Stand for those who are disempowered. Use your privilege to help others. Offer your best every day. Do not give up."
An effort to transform seems to be happening on global scale. It feels big. As some fall into darkness, others are coming to terms with man
y parts of themselves.
at presence you feel on your tail. You must turn on it. You must confront it. And once you do, it is all consuming. Once you break out, you must make sure it continues to follow you. If you are going to be heroic, that dark thing behi
nd you is always there. The more brightly you burn, the
more shadow you cast.
In this year, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, students -- wise and compassionate beings-- have reached out to me and Tracy personally, offering counsel and sharing experience. These small acts of kindness and love, these honest and open conversations have helped me through some tough moments. I have thus come to appreciate that there IS community in the space of seemingly nutty online yoga forums-- even when so much of the discourse seems superficial, narcissistic, or trending towards negativity. More is present.
The yoga continues.
despite the unexpected, we launched new trainings with new teachers including Sandra Kessel Endres, Carrie Fraser and Peach Friedman. We saw new teachers traveling worldwide and teaching our method, including Stephen Ewashkiw, Dhugal Meachem. We certified several new teachers, graduated SIX 300 hour training classes, and a larger number of 200 hour training classes. Lots of down dog indeed.
I believe it is a testament to our organization (and to Tracy) that we seek to move our teachers and students alike in directions of greatest benefit for them personally and professionally. Steering clear of modalities of poverty consciousness--which have become so pervasive of late--is hard work. Between these Thanksgivings w
e saw our more seasoned teachers -- including Amy Petty, Matthew Hill, Paula Gelbart, and Nichol Chase each and all grow in huge new ways.
Each are thriving and I am hu
mbled to be in their company. Most recently, Nichol finished up her first 200 hour program and has been active in building a blossoming yoga
community in San Francisco.
And Rocky Heron continues to keep us smiling.
You can now learn w
ith Rocky on Yogaglo. The program available on that s
ite represents his deep passion of functional movement modalities. It is incredible-- as is he. If you want to study with this emerging genius of a man, Rocky will begin 200
hours of training in Portland in January.
In yoga news,
we have diversified our online offerings and are now able to deliver online yoga classes across more than one well respected channel.
Yoga International has just released a
collection of challenging classes with me
. I will film more next month (you have requested they be easier). Yoga International is a well established yoga content provider and a virtuous organization. Tracy and I have been impressed not only by the quality of their yoga products, but by the openness and transparency with which they run their business. I believe Yoga International to be the current front runner in delivering products focused on yoga education. This is also my focus-- so this is a good fit. The content here is strong, smart, well considered and focused. The collection of teachers on the site is extraordinary. I am proud to be in new and growing community here. I hope you take the time to sign up and check Yoga International out.
Wanderlust TV has also recently released
two class packages
of yoga classes taught by me and epertly modeled by the indomitable Nichol Chase and the luminous Micki Duran.
I have been working on a daily basis with the visionary beings at Wanderlust Hollywood for nearly 2 years now. I have been teaching at Wanderlust festivals for far longer (O'ahu is coming up!). As with my wife, I am continuously amazed at Wanderlust's capacity to manifest beauty and vision with style, knowledge and grace. I am honored to be in their company, to learn from them, and to grow with them.
Over the years, I have come to understand Tracy's gift as a genius editor and curator of yoga content. Accordingly, we have decided to redesign our website to better serve our audience and colleagues-- with an eye toward addressing growing needs and chasms expressed by yoga teachers around the world. We
hope to launch this most important piece of our business before the end of the year. Via our new site, we will offer classes taught by me and others, and we will new and improved online courses led by me, Rocky, other Yogamazé teachers and NON Yogamazé teachers. I am really jazzed about this roll out. W
e will be eliminating most of our older content in the weeks and months ahead. So i
f you desire any of the
, and have been meaning to buy them for ages, do it now. It's a good time as we are having a sale (see bottom for code).
My beloved,Tracy, has been beyond heroic through the ups and downs of this past year, the packing and unpacking of boxes, and the reshuffling of the house of cards we call life. She is my greatest hero and I am constantly amazed by her capacity to generate beauty and abundance and her indomitable power of manifestation. She is certainly both the ferocious goddess Kali and the beautiful goddess Shri in one.
Madeleine is thriving in third grade, obsessed with huskies, reading a book a day and writing in her journal. She is enduringly sweet, thoughtful, compassionate and spicy all at once.
Oliver is chasing close behind in Kindergarten, is now riding a mountain bike with gears and hand breaks, and is polishing gems and minerals in a rock tumbler in order to make them into jewelry. I am flooded with pure delight spending time with him.
It is so much fun to see the kids continually grow into their kinesthetic interests; they are climbing the walls like monkeys and in love with anything to do with being active.
In conclusion, I guess I'll sum up to this-- When figurative earthquakes register prominently on your Richter scales, you can decide to lean into the jolting and to allow it to propel you to your next, new and better place.
In this season harvest and abundance and gratitude, I am exceedingly grateful for each of you.
Thank you for striving to be the best version of yourselves.
Thank you for teaching me so much.
Thank you for your patience while I learn.
Thank you for your support and friendship.
Thank you for enduring in the world and hanging in there in this intense geo-political climate.
The more brightly you burn, the more shadow you cast.
Rage on, burn brightly-- the world needs your light.
With gratitude and affection from our new home,