Early Berkshire Spring
A thousand years ago, in 1991, I led my first R&R workshop at Kripalu Center.
I had been teaching in a Newark, New Jersey high school for many years before that—perhaps 18?
Nevertheless, teaching at Kripalu was beyond-daunting. I felt a profound responsibility to speak “spiritual truth.”
Please note the quotes surrounding my overblown assumption.
As a new member of the Kripalu ashram, I was flattered and awed by the opportunity, one bestowed upon me, I believed, by my simply surviving Malcolm X Shabazz High School for all those years.
Nevertheless, Kripalu’s Forest Room was quite the leap from Johnson Avenue in Newark.
I practiced “om-ing”, quietly chanting to myself on my walks and in the bathrooms, obsessively watchful for the vibration of the chant in my chest, as the senior teachers encouraged.
I couldn’t feel anything in my chest, perhaps just some tightening anxiety creeping upwards from my belly!
Imposter Syndrome raged in my head in the weeks building up to the workshop.
Who did I think I was, teaching such a subject?
I didn’t really know; wasn’t I just making stuff up?
More om practice was needed, that was for certain!
The Grace of Surrender was the title of my workshop. In it, I intended to praise the spiritually evolved practice of surrendering into life as it is. I was positive that the evolved amongst us, of which I was clearly not included (shhhh—that was a giant secret), lived constantly in the flow of surrender.
That was the goal.
Or so I thought.
I don’t have much memory of the workshop, just brimming terror at the threatening, the terrifying, the overwhelming—leading that daunting first public om.
Cut to 2019, many an om later:
I led the same workshop this morning.
The Grace of Surrender.
It’s a gift I do believe, to have a consistent “thing”, a touchstone, to return to, into which we can see our growth, our evolution, our process. Teaching is clearly that for me. More powerfully, this single workshop is a shiny, a highly reflective mirror.
This is what is different today—this is what I realize about myself as a teacher, a practitioner, a human:
- I don’t have to have all the answers to be able to teach.
- Actually, the fewer answers I think I have, the more productive the teaching session can be as well as my life moments can be.
- My role as a facilitator is to create the circumstances in which the teachings can emerge from each of us.
- I guide that process; I am not that process.
- Living spiritually means more than just surrendering into life.
- Living spiritually means skillfully using my will, taking right actions that support my partnership with the moment.
- Unlike twenty-eight years ago, when I thought willful actions were somehow inferior, today I believe that skillfully taking actions and letting go of the outcome, can offer us masterful navigation of the moment.
Living yoga investigates our right relationship to the reality of the moment; the right use of will, coupled with the grace of surrender, carries us forward.
There is unfortunately no formula, no ratio of each.
There is only practice.
Practice—watching without judgment, noticing our actions, realigning with intention.
We are works in progress.
And each iteration of the moment along our journey is the essential, the glorious, the stunning thread woven into the tapestry of our days.
All has led us here.
All threads from our past coming together become the entirety, to date, of Us.
Of our incredibly imperfect yet magical lives.
Magical mystery tour, indeed!
Let’s enjoy the moment.
May all actions be like seeds planted in the earth of surrender.
Dear Folks, I hope your transition into spring is a delicious one. Do you have anything in your life which is consistent, in which you can see your changes, your evolution, your shifting perspective? Consider. And please do keep in touch. I am email@example.com.