Free Talk on the Science of Willpower

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I will be giving an engaging FREE talk on The Science of Willpower:  How to stick with your highest aspirations through the holidays and beyond! at Vitamin Cottage / Natural Grocers (100 W South Boulder Road, Lafayette, CO 80026) on Tuesday, December 5th from 6:00-7:30pm!

If you’ve ever wondered why making New Year’s Resolutions is so easy and keeping them is so difficult, you’re not alone.  In this interactive seminar, we will look at willpower from the perspectives of both modern neuroscience and ancient Vedic wisdom.  The lecture will be interspersed with experiential exercises to help the material to come alive, and questions and comments will be entertained.

Jen Peters holds a BA from Columbia University and an MA from Princeton specializing in Neuroscience, and she is currently completing her 2nd MA in Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Counseling at Naropa University.  Jen is the Affordable Counseling Intern at Community Holistic Health Center in Lafayette, where she works with individuals, couples and groups.  She is also a yoga teacher at Ashtanga Yoga Denver and the founder of Jungle Physician LLC, offering interdisciplinary writings, teachings, coaching and counseling in the Denver-Boulder area as well as internationally. After becoming seriously ill from biotoxin exposure several years ago, Jen began to investigate every holistic healing modality she could, and draws on her experience to empower others on their own individual journeys with skill, knowledge and compassion.  She implements Eastern and Western approaches and blends the creative and analytic to build a safe and effective space in which to explore what is possible.

https://www.naturalgrocers.com/nutrition-and-health/events/events-calendar/the-science-of-willpower/

WOMEN’S SEXUALITY GROUP: registration is now open!

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Women's Process Group

Thank you for your interest in this exciting group to be offered 4 consecutive Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:00pm at Community Holistic Health Center (409 S Public Rd, Lafayette, CO 80026).  The dates for the group will be: November 29, December 6, 13, 20.  Preference will be given to participants who can commit to attending at least 3 of the 4 classes.  This course is offered on a donation basis, so please consider your current financial situation and the usual cost of such workshops and give what you can.  100% of donations go to the non-profit Community Holistic Health Center, where we will be meeting. 

This group welcomes women looking to explore how sexuality can enrich all aspects of life.  We will bolster ourselves with education that is sorely lacking in our cultural milieu and engage in approachable mindfulness exercises to help us tune in to what we most want and need whatever our age, health status, or living situation may be.  We will hold a safe and confidential space where it is ok to be vulnerable, inquire, experiment, and share when you are ready (but not one second before)!

I (Jen Peters, MA, registered psychotherapist, counseling intern at CHHC, yogini and former neuroscientist) have found tremendous healing and inspiration in releasing the limited identities and baggage I inherited from a long line of ancestors and acquired through culture, religion and various impactful experiences throughout my lifetime. I am constantly reinventing myself into a more congruous and authentic process that reflects my current values, understanding and aspirations.  

As women, our nervous systems (and souls) are exceptionally sensitive to attitudes and behaviors directed at our bodies.  By studying the science behind this and supporting each other, we can learn to move forward boldly, consciously and unapologetically turned on!  When we are in touch with our core essence, we are able to bring our brightest, clearest and most fiercely compassionate selves forward into a world that badly needs us.

Our group will be limited to 10 participants, so if you would like to take part, please register soon by going to my contact page.   In the comments section, jot down a couple of ideas about what you hope to gain from this group, and if you’d like, feel free to briefly share any hopes or fears that come up for you around this.  I will let you know about the status of your registration within 48 hours.  Looking forward to this!  🙂  Please share this opportunity with other women who may be interested.

Registration Open for GRIEF, LOSS & TRANSITIONS Group

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Mondays 5_30-7_00pmNov. 27th - Dec. 18thInvestment_ by DonationLimited to 10 peopleRegistration at junglephysician.com

Thank you for your interest in this supportive group to be offered 4 consecutive Monday evenings from 5:30-7:00pm at Community Holistic Health Center (409 S Public Rd, Lafayette, CO 80026).  The dates for the group will be:  November 27, December 4, 11, 18.  Preference will be given to participants who can commit to attending at least 3 of the 4 meetings.  This course is offered on a donation basis, so please consider your current financial situation and the usual cost of such workshops and give what you can.  100% of donations go to the non-profit Community Holistic Health Center, where we will be meeting. 

This group is intended for anybody who would like support with grief, loss or transition. Whether you have lost a loved one or face difficulties, uncertainty, change, injury or illness in your own life, you are welcome to join us in being yourself and allowing your feelings, whatever they may be, to arise and be met with compassion.

So often those around us do their best to be comforting and helpful, but fail to be with us in the ways we truly need.  At other times, we may feel totally alone in our suffering.  Perhaps most draining is when we end up trying to take care of those around us without giving ourselves or receiving from others the deep care and love that we all need.  So often, society prescribes how we “should” feel in certain situations (and for how long), but that doesn’t match our own experience at all.  Or maybe we are grieving something others simply cannot fathom, yet it touches us to the core.  In this group, we will create a safe and confidential space where you are asked to come as you are, cry or laugh, share your story or listen, and allow yourself to be held and nurtured by community.

I (Jen Peters, MA, registered psychotherapist and counseling intern at CHHC) am drawn to lead this group having dealt with a chronic illness caused by biotoxin exposure for the past several years that profoundly changed my lifestyle, financial situation, abilities, hopes and dreams.  The constant pressure I felt to carry on as if nothing had changed nearly destroyed me many times over, and most of all I longed to be with others who understood that some situations are not simply waiting to be fixed or going away any time soon.  Some experiences are deeply painful and confusing and those of us who are able to recognize that and stay with the discomfort can move through them at our own pace and eventually gain great insight.  With support, we can access different planes of profound healing.  We do not need to struggle through this process by ourselves.

This is a group for those of us facing the frightening but also somehow inspiring reality that we are not going to live forever and looking to make the most of the days we have left.

Our group will be limited to 10 participants, so if you are interested, please register soon by going to my contact page.   In the comments section, please write a couple of sentences about why you are interested in this group, and if you’d like, feel free to briefly share any hopes or fears that come up for you around this.  I will let you know about the status of your registration within about 48 hours!  Looking forward to meeting you soon…  Please share this with others you feel might benefit as well.

Registration Open for MINDFULNESS + PURPOSE Course

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Thank you for your interest in this exciting group to be offered 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:00pm at Community Holistic Health Center (409 S Public Rd, Lafayette, CO 80026).  The dates for the course will be:  October 11, 18, 25 and November 1, 8, 15.  Preference will be given to participants who can commit to attending at least 5 of the 6 classes.  This course is offered on a donation basis, so please consider your current financial situation and the usual cost of such workshops and give as generously as you can to the non-profit Community Holistic Health Center, where we will be meeting. 

This will be a small and intimate group intended for those of us who have begun to get a sense that a new way of being in the world is possible, one that stems from compassion and interconnectedness, one that allows us to make our unique and tremendously important contributions to life.  This is not a career seminar, though sculpting our purpose and delving into what truly inspires us may indeed influence our work as well.

We will engage in a variety of approachable mindfulness exercises to get in touch with our core essence and also a number of experiential exercises designed by Rod Stryker, Bill Burnett, Dave Evans and others to gain access to what motivates us and what specific and special gifts we have to offer.  We will have frequent check-ins in the larger group as well as partner work, which will allow community to support us in unraveling obstacles and becoming accustomed to new ways of thinking and being.

Above all, we will be upholding a safe space where it is ok to experiment, try on new selves and attitudes, be vulnerable, and not feel any pressure to do anything right or well!  This is all about exploring with others who care and are willing to do the same thing.  Nobody will be pressured to share anything before they are ready, but together we will begin to face the fear that invariably shows up around the unfamiliar and unknowable.

I (Jen Peters, MA, registered psychotherapist and counseling intern at CHHC) am drawn to lead this group because I am constantly in the process of reinventing myself and updating my actions as new insights and necessities arise.  I feel an urgency in the atmosphere today from others who are trying to do the same.  I have always felt a bit alone in this venture.  So many people seem to be born to do a certain job, follow the American dream and live happily ever after, or at least, they thoroughly invest in appearing to do so.  For me and many of my closest colleagues and friends, it seems to be a bit more complicated…!

In my first four decades I have seriously pursued music, literature, neuroscience, yoga, meditation and psychotherapy, and I have been shaped by international travel, chronic illness, inspiring beings, and the increasingly difficult circumstances all Earthlings are facing at the moment.  It is not easy to find the common thread and crystallize a purpose that gives momentum to our most heartfelt aspirations, but consideration of this topic has been one of the most meaningful and practical activities I have found, and I would love to be there for others looking to do the same in their own ways.

Our group will be limited to 8 participants, so if you are interested, please register soon by going to my contact page and giving the following information:  1. your full name and 2. a couple of sentences about why you are interested in this group, and if you’d like, feel free to briefly share any hopes or fears that come up for you around this.  I will let you know about the status of your registration within about 48 hours!  Looking forward to this!  🙂

Moving “authentically” in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

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“An authentic movement is in and of the Self at the moment it is done.  Nothing is in it that is not inevitable, simple.  When it is authentic, I can almost tell you what is coming next.  When I see somebody move authentically, it is so real that it is undiluted by any pretense or any appearance or images.  Often, it can be the movement of just one hand turning over, or it can be the whole body.  To get to this authenticity sacrifice is involved.  At first it is a discovery of all of the tricks, needs and demands that separate you from what would be genuine in yourself.  Then after you have discovered what this trick is and what it prevents, it must be sacrificed, as must each subsequent one as it is discovered.  The reality of impulse and movement come from such a different place in oneself that when it is experienced, the person comes to know when it is there and when it isn’t, and then she can stop cheating.  What I call ‘cheating’ would be the personal arrangement of movement on many levels…”  Mary Starks Whitehouse in Authentic Movement: Essays by Mary Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler and Joan Chodorow

MSW is speaking about a therapeutic form in which a client is witnessed as he or she begins to move in whatever manner feels right at that moment, a conscious exploration of sensations and impulses.  The form is thus intended to be completely free and unfabricated, at times highly idiosyncratic and steeped in layers of emotion.  Much more would need to be said to do this kind of practice justice, but what I would like to address here is how much we need this kind of attitude even within a seemingly prescribed movement sequence such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

The polarity often discussed in Authentic Movement is that of moving and being moved.  Any of us who have tried yoga have worked on the moving part, the purposeful arrangement of the body and use of various techniques and theories.  Only the most elite masters seem to have grasped the being moved part, which is evident when you see them practice, though many of us have no doubt had at least some moments where we become possessed in this way.  Like Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, you are not the Doer.  However, most of us on some level feel we are and we look like we are when we get down on the mat…  No, it is not about looks in the end, however, we can also feel that something is missing when we are not completely attuned to the deepest aspects of our being.

Many Ashtangis will jump to say, “Yes, that is why we have always said Iyengar yoga (focused on alignment) sucks,” but this is not at all what I mean (I love it).  The body actually wants to move in an organic way, yet unless we sense into every split-second of the movement, we lose this flow and replace it with top-down or automated dictatorship.  You cannot really have one side without the other, also talked about in the 2-fold yoga path described by Patanjali as abhyasa-vairagya.  If we do not get the body in the vicinity of brilliant alignment where natural impulses can actually function, they are unable to work efficiently for us, (and these inner impulses seem to involve a great deal more than simply squeezing the anus, which is all the glory internal form is given in some circles…)  Likewise, deity visualizations and anatomical/kinesiological understanding can help our body to start to move in the ways that will feel most liberating.  We may try to understand what it means to allow the pelvic floor or “mula bandha” organize the pose, or let the breath do the work, but in order for this to happen, we need to listen so deeply and carefully (and continuously), setting the stage and sending the invitations, and finally allowing those impulses to direct us or perform for us when they actually show up.

For me, and I think for most of us, this involves relinquishing a great deal of cognitive control.  So many of us are in lock-down, totally wedded to a form we have imagined or seen in a book or another practitioner.  My teacher always jokes that it’s like he’s teaching in a morgue!  Our minds have gotten the body so stuck that the breath and life are choked right out of us.  We are not likely to look for the authentic movement going into poses or staying in poses, where so much magic can take place.  There are infinite numbers of transformations possible for however long we are in a pose.  This might simply involve micro movements and fine tuning, finding more dignity within a contortion, or at times becoming more contorted in order to feel certain other polarities.  Sometimes it might be stillness, which reveals its opposite and background.  It’s a dance, though it might not look like any kind of dance we have ever seen, nor will it ever happen in the same way again.  Just as we are all composed of waves and spirals, so too the body enjoys moving, which is strangely alien to the ego, who wants us to have a solid identity and just stick the pose “right” and move on to the next victory without feeling into the vast and groundless reality that there is no end to any pose, nor to us for that matter.

In asana, as in life, we follow the prescription, do the forms as obedient little students, and miss out on the real juice.  If we managed to tune in for even a few moments, we would start to feel the emotional and archetypal energy in our bodies and simultaneously feel the immense relief and freedom of total embodiment.  My teacher always says that if we could pay attention for even 2 seconds, we would fall into the central channel (Sushumna Nadi) and experience great insight.  It is humbling to truly inquire into whether we have ever managed to pay close attention for any amount of time at all in our practices.

If the central channel opens, it is said that core sensations are unleashed at an intensity our distraction usually keeps at bay.  Our protective ego structure would rather keep us out of this experience of the Self.  It would rather keep us in our reductive stories and limited beliefs and behaviors, which are safer and far less gratifying.  However, somehow we know we are missing something.  We naturally seek out intense experiences that will allow us to get a taste for this true absorption, anything short of which leaves us feeling like phony shells of our true potential.

Later in the same chapter, MSW speaks about simply becoming more aware of our tendencies, constrictions and ways of posturing ourselves, how we sit, shake hands, etc.  All of this will be reflected in our asana practice.  We move as the mass of habits we have become over the years, in most cases far more inhibited than when we came into this world as children.  As soon as we start to truly tune in to whatever we are doing, we will start to feel something asking us to adjust, or leading our attention to some aspect that was previously being kept out of our awareness.  In fact we might be shocked to find that we have been slouching in an incredibly uncomfortable position for hours!  Many of us torture ourselves throughout our practice as well, zoned out to the sensations until they become intolerably excruciating.

Of course, so many spiritual paths converge on the view that future suffering can and should be avoided.  Looking into our being and discovering needless restrictions, rules, layers of conditioning, shame, guilt, whatever else keeps us feeling stuck, allows us moments of relief when we can let go of some of the needless tensions, involuntary recoiling and brainy rigidity that make certain we have to keep striving and struggling rather than just being and actually letting so many things take care of themselves, as they truly will when we are alert enough to get out of the way.  At the same time, when we notice we are suffering and no easy solution appears, we do not take the attitude of whitewashing over it without listening.  We hold it as we would a baby who has begun to cry and needs our tenderness.  We start to discover who we really are, far more capable and vulnerable than we may ever have realized.

I find it extremely helpful personally to do Authentic Movement practices with their apparent lack of form.  They have helped me to begin to see how even within form, there is so much openness and freedom.  (The Heart Sutra comes to mind…)  In addition, allowing the body to go where it wants without censorship quickly throws up in one’s face all kinds of repressed shadow material.  Suddenly I might find myself acting out some kind of sequence that feels highly willful, primitive, seductive, furious or whatever else I might hide from polite society.  Repression will show up in yoga and inhibit everything from the breath to range of motion and might even cause pain and illness.

Making friends with those aspects of myself that nobody else is befriending allows for an experience of unconditional love that we rarely find in our daily life (and it is particularly powerful, not to mention healing, if there is a witness in Authentic Movement or a teacher in yoga who has explored her own depths and who is comfortable with the irreducibility of the self and awesome complexity of the universes, to be there with you as you explore in this intimate way).  The practice has helped me to start to crack my own heart open and have some self-compassion for all of the components that seem to make up “me” at any given time, and to give them what they need when I can and be with them when I can’t.  Slowly I start to see that being with myself this way helps me to be with others.

Shankaracharya has said that true yogis serve (rather than “do”) mula bandha.  On some level, in an Authentic Movement practice or and authentic Ashtanga practice, we are always asking how we can best serve our bodies and other aspects of our being.  In that way, we are continuously confronted with whatever we might have overlooked, be it physical, emotional, or on some other plane.  Ultimately we can see limitless freedom even within the boundaries of a certain yoga pose or transition, and in acknowledging this mystery, we are naturally drawn to look closely again and again and feel into each crevice of our being, allowing very profound feelings and sensations to emerge and meet our warm and kind acceptance.  This is how the practice is becoming increasingly meaningful for me.  It requires a very different attitude than I was used to, so much sensitivity and love, but it’s rewarding immediately, even in the earliest phases of implementation.

Practicing in this way we cannot avoid our humanity, aloneness and interconnectedness.  Sometimes what we feel is not at all pleasant, and sometimes it is pure bliss.  At any rate, it’s prana, and when we feel this pulsation, life becomes more lively.

Personality & Enlightenment

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“That the personality of enlightened beings and advanced mystics remains largely intact is obvious when one examines biographies and autobiographies of adepts, past and present. Each one manifests specific psychological qualities, as determined by his or her genetics and life history… What these awakened beings have in common is that they no longer identify with the personality complex, however it may be configured, but live out of the identity of the Self. Enlightenment, then, consists in the transcendence of the ego-habit, but enlightenment does not obliterate the personality. [This] raises the crucial question of whether enlightenment also leaves untouched traits that in the unenlightened individual might be called neurotic. I believe this is so… The traditional spiritual paths are by and large grounded in the vertical ideal of liberation from the conditioning of the body-mind… This may explain why so many mystics and adepts are highly eccentric and authoritarian and appear socially to have weakly integrated personalities. Unlike transcendence, integration occurs in the horizontal plane… Having discovered the Divine in the depths of his or her own soul, the adept must then find the Divine in all life.” — Georg Feuerstein in Paths Beyond Ego: The Transpersonal Vision

Viktor Frankl on the Potential of Love in Self-Realization

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IMG_2764“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.” — Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning

The Rainmaker: How to restore balance to ourselves and our world

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Gorgeous beach in Molokai. Photo by Jen

There was a drought in a village in China. They sent for a rainmaker who was known to live in the farthest corner of the country, far away. Of course that would be so, because we never trust a prophet who lives in our region; he has to come from far away. So he arrived, and he found the village in a miserable state. The cattle were dying, the vegetation was dying, the people were affected. The people crowded around him and were very curious what he would do. He said, ‘Well, just give me a little hut and leave me alone for a few days.’ So he went into this little hut and people were wondering and wondering, the first day, the second day. On the third day it started pouring rain and he came out. They asked him, ‘What did you do?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘that is very simple. I didn’t do anything.’ ‘But look,’ they said, ‘now it rains. What happened?’ And he explained, ‘I come from an area that is in Tao, in balance. We have rain, we have sunshine. Nothing is out of order. I come into your area and find that it is chaotic. The rhythm of life is disturbed, so when I come into it I, too, am disturbed. The whole thing affects me and I am immediately out of order. So what can I do? I want a little hut to be by myself, to meditate, to set myself straight. And then, when I am able to get myself in order, everything around is set right. We are now in Tao, and since the rain was missing, now it rains.’ — C. G. Jung in Jung on Active Imagination (Encountering Jung) (pp. 19-20). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. 

Apparently Jung found this tale to be so important that he suggested telling it whenever giving a seminar on active imagination, his most treasured method of healing and transformation.  At this point our world seems to be in such disarray that we might need more than a few days in a hut on our own in order to bring it all back into balance!  It’s becoming clear to many of us, however, that it is precisely this inner work which will affect the massive changes needed.

Although this story has a certain hyperbolic or fictional quality to it that many of us would not tend to believe at face value, we should not underestimate the power of our own practices to recenter, heal, and revolutionize.  Surely we have all recognized how our state of overall well-being affects our immediate family, friend circle and professional milieu, and how this influence thereby spreads to the unseen multitudes.

Our work-a-holic culture would lead us to believe that we must work incessantly to survive and be personally available to every other being we have ever met in our entire lives (and with whom we are now in touch over social media)  with no end in sight.  It is a colossal accomplishment to find even a couple of minutes for ourselves in any given day to regroup.

However, when we show up rested, rejuvenated and inspired, we first demonstrate that this feat is possible and second, give others permission to take time for themselves.  We need to rewrite the popular discourse so that it’s normal to take space to breathe and care for our needs, whether “mundane” or “transcendent.”  The state of our world clearly reflects our tendency just to slop through, get by and numb out, hoping somebody else will save us, or counting on our own impending death to end this cycle of rat-racing.  More is possible!

Our Search for Meaning

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Jen in a tree near Mt. Fuji. Photo by Tzing

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will then satisfy his own will to meaning. There are some authors who contend that meanings and values are ‘nothing but defense mechanisms, reaction formations and sublimations.’ But as for myself, I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my ‘defense mechanisms,’ nor would I be ready to die merely for the sake of my ‘reaction formations.’ Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values.” — Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning

How many of us are on that path that can be ours alone versus following what has been laid out by others with very different backgrounds?  Do we feel a queasy sense of hypocrisy and dissatisfaction with ourselves and our lives, or can we be confident that we are giving it our best shot this time around?

Deep down, we know why we are here.  If we are confused about that, there are no doubt layers of conditioning to work through, but we have to be honest with ourselves about the messages we get from our body-mind-spirits and feedback from the environment, which is not “random,” nor so wholly apart from us.

Sometimes we are so debilitated that it is hard to hear any voice of inspiration or imagine what meaning could possibly exist.  In my own life, I have gone through excruciatingly long periods of apparent stagnation and difficulty, but when I came to have faith that I do have a purpose and that nobody else can do my job, and that furthermore, following my heart will benefit all beings immeasurably, even my worst suffering started to seem like more of a teacher and less of a punishment.

We could play the role of the skeptic and say that such talk is verging on a delusion of grandeur, but when we consider that, as compassionate humans, we cannot be happy unless everybody else is happy, we should see our absolute obligation to at least make the most of our own existence!  It is frightening take on this responsibility, and there is no telling where it might lead.  I’m getting better at trusting that it’s worth the risk.

Trauma, Relationship, Guru

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Richard assisting me in laghu vajrasana in 2011. Photo by Chris Croft

“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only in the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connections with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are originally formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.” — Judith Herman in Trauma and Recovery 

The importance of the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy has long been recognized.  It has been purported to be the single biggest factor (or even the only necessary and sufficient factor) contributing to positive treatment outcomes for a variety of problems and disorders.  How many of us feel a bit disempowered and disconnected from others?  This is often why we turn to therapy or to yoga.  We could all benefit from profound and selfless relationship, which is not so easy to come by in this world.

Such relationships seem to be growing more and more scarce in the yoga world as it becomes less and less “cool” to accept a guru or make any commitment to study with somebody who is truly qualified to teach.  In its popularized form yoga is seen as yet another fitness and fashion craze, and its ultimate goal (Self-realization and rediscovery of interconnectedness, the very opposite of disempowerment and disconnection) is forgotten.  Considerable disillusionment comes from having watched so many apparently advanced teachers succumb to the basest scandals.  However, instead of jumping on board and behaving abhorrently or losing faith altogether, teachers and students might deeply ponder the gravity of the role and do their best to uphold the highest standards.

It is well-established that memories are stored somatically, so when we work with the body in yoga, we have the potential, to a greater or lesser extent, to re-awaken traumatic experiences and relive them to some degree.  Even if we consider ourselves to be in the fortunate minority of people who have experienced no dramatic or excruciating trauma, we still carry with us whatever we have encountered throughout our development during at least one lifetime!  The choice of who will share this very intimate practice space with us while we undergo these processes is quite a sacred one.

When you fold into that hip-opener and associations with your X or difficult family members bubble up (explicitly or not), it would be ideal if the teacher would not reenact those old pathological scenarios and behavior patterns, reinforcing them in your system!  How terrible (and re-traumatizing) is it to feel unsafe, abandoned or subject to compounded injury and negativity in times of vulnerability…?!  How incredible would it be to share with somebody who supports you and sees your highest potential and reminds you of it in that moment?  A present being can often help us to face difficult feelings with more mindfulness than we can alone.  What a gift, to progressively work out ticks and misconceptions that we have adopted strategically in order to survive, but which build up those very barriers that alienate us from what we truly desire!  Sharing even one instant in true relationship with a genuinely compassionate being can reconfigure how we respond in analogous cases (or overall) for the rest of our lives (and perhaps beyond)!  Then, we learn how to be there for ourselves and others in that same nurturing way.

The necessity and therapeutic-transformative potential of the student-teacher relationship is stressed again and again in the shastras.  Through relationship we either drive ourselves further back into our shells or melt away resistances to states of fullness that we generally feel are too nice and therefore not possible for us.  I would like to beseech everybody to reconsider what is possible in relationship, whether in the shala or on the street (and hopefully here on this blog)!  We can practice this all the time…