I’ve seen a hundred social media posts asking me what I want to let go of in 2017. and part of me thinks these memes are goofy, but at the same time, I do think about these things.
We all have problems that have been problems for years. I certainly do. If you know me, you could probably share a list of them with me, and you would know exactly what I need to know about them. We’re good like that. Spotting other people’s problems. (also, don’t send that list)
But our meditation practice is about Svadyaya, Self study, not the study of others. Self study is where the wisdom comes
It reminds me of the old saying, ‘insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.’
I get the same certain results.
I keep doing the same certain things.
I keep thinking the same certain thoughts.
I keep looking at life the same certain way.
What I’m trying to say, is that I’m very certain. We all have these places where we’re very certain, resist introspection, and lash out at feedback.
WE GOTTA STOP DOING THIS
I know it’s hard to root out the beliefs and the perceptions. They can be subtle and evasive, be design. I like to work backwards. What’s the situation? What’s the open sore of an unwanted manifestation?
Like we mentioned above, often it seems like other people or external situations are at the root of our unhappiness. If only such and such were different.
It’s not a bad place to start, but it’s no kind of place to finish. We’ve got to refocus on ourselves. We’ve got to be less certain that we’re right, that we’re justified, that we’ve got it all figured out.
What can we be less certain about? What thoughts are we holding onto so tightly they cause our jaw to clench and our forehead to furrow?
I don’t know what to do…
I don’t know if my ideas about this are actually in line with my highest truth…
I want to do better, I don’t know how…
This is a great place to start, admitting that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working, and that we don’t necessarily know any other way. It’s a mysterious place to be and full of possibilities.
This is our work.
And this is all for this email, for now. I’ll have more in a day or two. In the mean time, I hope your new year is full of questions, and mysteries, and possibility.
We know that there are no shortage of stories and articles about ethical issues arising in yoga studios, and various other spiritual communities. Conflicts between teachers and students, issues with studio administration, conspiracies of silence. Even though everyone seems to have a vague idea that ethical guidelines are a good idea, they aren’t often agreed upon, and rarely are they explicit.
As a result, there seems to be a lack of oversight and accountability for those in positions of power. We’ve seen power exchanges go goofy all too often, and when they do, people don’t know what to do about it, and as a result, unpleasant situations get ignored or denied, and blame gets thrown around all over the place, seemingly indiscriminately. Sincere people, who want to be able to practice safely, deserve powerful ethical guidelines that are actually valued and adhered to.
I’ve read, as I’m sure you have, articles about people complaining about being treated unfairly at a yoga studio, or even being molested on some level. And, I must admit, some evoke more sympathy in me that others. Sometimes someone was obviously wronged, and its horrible, and heartbreaking. Sometimes, folks with bad judgement and poor boundaries get themselves in messes, then feel like it’s convenient to point fingers. Either way, we run into this issue of hindsight being 20/20, and/or trying to solve a systemic problem with anger and vengeance. I don’t see a lot of people being proactive about it, trying to create solutions. And I don’t see people showing up, making it known that they feel like it’s important to them that their community have guidelines in place to sort out messy situations.
This morning, I was really very pleasantly surprised. I was looking at Noah Levine’s Against The Stream Meditation Website. I recently moved to The Mission, and his center is within walking distance. I like Noah, he taught at my yoga studio, many years ago. All the punk rockers and I all went out for Govinda’s and Gelato afterwards.
Anyhow, on the website, there is a page called ‘Grievance and Reconciliation Procedure’. It acknowledges that emotional distress and/or conflict can arise within ones self, and between practitioners, and between practitioners and teachers. Practice, by it’s nature, brings up issues, for the express purpose of finding freedom. The website states that “The health of our community is not measured by the presence or absence of conflict, rather by our willingness to find effective, responsible, and compassionate resolution of interpersonal tensions when they arise.”
I won’t quote Against The Stream’s entire page, but I encourage you to read it. It’s here. I’ll wait. It goes on to detail a clear procedure for bringing up concerns, and how those concerns will be dealt with. It makes it very clear that this community takes its code of ethics seriously, and is willing to create time and space to deal with any perceived violations of this code in a thoughtful, grounded manner.
Consider how this shapes the culture of this community. How would you feel as a student, knowing that this kind of accountability is in place? If you were a teacher, how would it affect how you show up for your students? How would it change the standards you hold yourself to? Or if you are a studio owner, or community leader, do you have something this explicit in place? If not, why not? What would it require of you to implement this? What would it mean for your community?
Change happens when consciousness changes. And consciousness changes on an individual level. It happens when we do self work. Yoga Alliance isn’t going to save us from ground level ethical dilemmas, and neither are countless articles detailing who did what to who. As near as I can tell, the way is to work within ourselves and our communities to create environments that, as ATS puts it, values “dialogue over silence, reconciliation over estrangement, forgiveness over resentment, confession over accusation, and atonement over punishment”
I don’t want you to think that I’m not willing to help, either. If you want to have a conversation about how to work on this for your space, you are certainly welcome to reach out, and we can workshop this together.