Teacher and student- the heart of yoga
In the newsletter this month we’ve been focusing on the relationship between teacher and student. By understanding the ideal dynamic of that relationship in classical practice we can enhance our capacity to learn yoga well on our own or with outer teachers.
When looking to external sources for guidance, information, understanding – there is a transfer of authority involved in the learning. We learn by imbuing a source with authority. To learn we must be willing to consider that the external source has valid and relevant understanding of what we want to learn, and we must be willing to try on, sincerely, what they have to offer- to be open to it. At this time scientists and doctors are held up as the pinnacle of valid authority-in other cultures in other times shamans and mystics are revered authorities. For some, journalists are valid authority. Judges are authorities in our culture.
From the yoga perspective authority is not inherent in any of those people. Others confer that authority on them. True authority exists on a whole other level – in the realm of inner wisdom that we all have access to. Scientific findings are replaced, legal decisions are over turned, medical advice is found to be wrong. From the yoga perspective relative authorities like these can be useful but the truest of authorities is the limitless consciousness that we can access by looking within ourselves – beyond intellect, beyond knowledge in the deep silence.
Regardless of your reasons for practicing yoga it’s likely your mind has quieted down through the practice – revealing glimpses of peace and stillness. This inner fount of silence and peace is also the source of ultimate authority. It’s not your personality, it’s not your intellect-it’s the place inside you where your true potential resides waiting to be revealed. The more we choose to connect with it the more that silent wisdom self pervades our point of view.
So how do we access this fount consistently? Asana (postural) practice is a big part of this – by staying peaceful in an uncomfortable position we train ourselves to access this peaceful place at will. There are layers to this….first we just stay an extra breath and then another and then another. Next we practice staying focused on the breath rather than discomfort. Once we have mastered that we can bring ease into the posture by softening gripping resistance. Then in that space of wisdom and peace we can mindfully press more deeply into our alignment or our depth in the posture with wisdom. Press forward with wisdom.
As you practice nurturing this peace within while on your mat, it might be worthwhile to practice accessing that quiet space within when challenged to make a choice. Test the wisdom. This process of testing the wisdom born of silence can be helpful in making a relationship with our inner authority. We begin to recognize the difference between acting from our fear or our wisdom, and our faith in this subtle deeper wisdom grows. We begin to reclaim the authority that we may have given away to the world around us.