Dear Yogis,

What happens for me in meditation you ask? It is not easy to write about… or even to analyse.

In the first  minutes a curious thing happens. First concentrating on the breath, back and forth sharpening the focus.  In the beginning it is a “grind” but it is a grind I know,  a strange place that depending where I am and the intention,  can last quite a long time.  I am the person sitting in meditation standing back from myself looking at the person sitting in meditation.  After a while all that remains is the energy of the person sitting in meditation, being inside the flow of meditation.  The breath breathes itself. A special place of unhindered oxygenation is what you are seeking.  Imperfect breath patterns cause stress even if you are oblivious to this.

Let everything drift into soft awareness.

Then comes clarity, you get deeper and deeper into the soul of meditation.  The concept of “I” is gone and all that exists is blissful engagement with the process, absolute flow.  You know what is happening but you experience it from inside what is happening.

As I have said many times, by systematically training yourself you can drop into this meditative state at will and avoid distractions.  Even from children.  If you are tense, trying not to listen, straining to be calm… this is a contradiction, and you will snap.  The harder you try to blanket it out, the louder if becomes.

Most of us are TRAPPED in a “mind bubble”.  The alternative is to be quietly focussed, relaxed, your face in the Buddhist half smile, integrating what comes into the experience, and detaching. Be at peace with the distraction.  If music is in the background integrate it, not denying the sound, or your emotion. If your knees ache, if your back is sore… Integrate it, channel it into higher focus, sorting your way through the chaos.  The mind is just like any other muscle, it needs to be trained and Vipassana meditation is the best training.  Concentrating on the breath, always coming back to the breath expecting NOTHING.

Read and understand the TaoTeChing.  Laotses’s focus is inward,  understanding the essence of things rather than the physical outward manifestations.  Some of his verses comprise the last modules in our course, but few understand beyond the physical.  The Tao’s wisdom centres on overcoming obstructions to our natural insight, seeing false obstructions for what they are and releasing them.

As in TaiChi and YOGA, the aim is not winning – the aim is BEING.

Like Chancy the Gardener, Have a great “*BEING THERE” day… (*A Peter Sellers movie from a book written by Jerzy Kosinski).

NAMASTE – JAHNE

(Watch this space for new take on small, small space,  high nutrition gardening, coming soon…)

Dear Yogis,

We are going to once again examine our yoga classes (taught or learned from). 

There is way of teaching yogis and students that begins from learning the asanas right away with no balancing theory.  No anatomy and physiology, no philosophy..  The theory being that a student will only keep attending class if  they feel like they grasp the physical of  yoga quickly and easily.  That they need no understanding of the foundations. Teachers of this style will say that theory is not necessary.  That their students “don’t like it”.

At first it may seem logical to teach a newbie ONLY the asanas they will need to swing easily through a class.  Why not do this, especially if it seems you can achieve success from this method? Once you rely entirely on the asanas there is no way out.  You can spend your life studying the physical, and you will have learned nothing, and more importantly you will have no appreciation for the value and beauty of the philosophy and theory that lies at the heart of yoga.  For those who only learn asana YOGA BECOMES ABOUT RESULTS – AND PERFECTION.

These students talk about the asana as if this is yoga.  They think they are yogis because they can do the perfect down-dog or whatever.  They focus on what comes easily to them, and ignore the subjects that are harder.

The end result is that you have a student or teacher who refuses to move from asanas.  They look fantastic, they become more and more intense.  Their bodies become leaner, tighter, their lycra more eye-catching, their diets weirder.  They avoid challenges, but eventually life catches up with them.  Their confidence is fragile and rests on the physical.  On this path, faltering is always a crisis and not an opportunity for growth.

Success in this style of teaching is an illusion.  There seems to be a never ending supply of  people wanting to learn asana, and only asana.  For this teacher, there are always more beginners waiting, as those yogis disillusioned with asana which they understand as a fitness regime,  go elsewhere.

The problem here is that if a yoga student (or a ballet dancer or football player) is taught that their self-worth is entirely wrapped up in a perfectly skinny body that is always ready to perform, how can she/he handle injuries or life after they have experienced what will be an inevitably short career?

Those times that are the most difficult, that are most challenging in every respect, are also the opportunities packed with potential.  What will keep you on the path is a love of learning that has its roots in the guidance of a good  (fearless) teacher.

In my career I have seen many people in many fields take the “process first” (asana first) approach.  They turn this into an excuse for never putting skin into the game.  They also may pretend not to care about results.  These people claim to be egoless, to care only about yoga, but really the superficial yoga they do and teach is an excuse to avoid confronting themselves.  The road to understanding is not easy.  The only way to swim is to get into the water.  Growth comes at the point of resistance.  We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.  Let’s dive in.

When you do reach a new level of understanding it will be for you.  There is no euphoria, God will not speak from the heavens, there will be no applause. The world will be the same as it was the day before.  You will still like cooking, playing with your children, and flying a kite.

In this special and faraway land, yoga will happen from the place of pure energy. You will be more YOU.  The concept of “I” will change and you will do yoga (no matter the style) from the point of absolute flow…

Welcome.

NAMASTE. JAHNE

 

DEAR YOGIS,

I have a new goal.   To be the oldest TEACHER OF YOGA in Australia!

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Please hop onto this link and have a look at this wonderful yogi who only started yoga in her 90’s! What an inspiration to us all.  In this time of covid, what we can do matters, not what we can’t – nothing changes.

It’s easy when you get to my age to just rest on your past and think things don’t matter, but when you think things matter less,  is mostly when you discover they matter most.

In my present incarnation and time I am forced to retrace my steps and remember what has been internalised and forgotten.

I find I need to focus on process.  This discipline applies to anything. To art, yoga, even rugby (anything)…you must become immersed in the fundamentals in order to have any potential to reach a high level of understanding.  To get anywhere you must learn the asana and the philosophy.  In living yoga these two themes will be considered at once, but over time your intuition learns to integrate more and more principles into the sense of flow.  Eventually the foundation is so deeply internalised it is no longer consciously considered but is lived.  Then you can forget what you learned – it is part of you. You have seamlessly integrated yoga  into the person called “you”.

When you get to this point, yoga will be silently guiding you.

Although I began as a tough kid to teach –  because I thought I knew everything, not because I felt I knew nothing – a lifetime of yoga has not cooled my desire to know more. I have grown to love study, and teaching above all else. I thrive under adversity.  If I encounter “easy” I  always make things difficult and work my way through the chaos. When everyone else is climbing the walls I have great ease and confidence.  If I lived in the desert I would be a camel.

When I find I path I like I dedicate myself to it.  Unhindered by internal conflict.  When I locate or re-locate the path I don’t have doubts.

To be excellent you have to embrace a long term learning process, and give up the luxury of living a soft, static, safe mediocrity.  Like a hermit crab, at a certain point this luxurious shell safety is too small and you will be forced to leave the and go into the  difficult world. Learning to negotiate this dangerous space between one way of being and the next,  as difficult and dangerous as it is,  is where the real growth can occur.

In my experience, successful people shoot for big goals, put their skin in the game and eventually discover that the lessons learnt along the way are more important than the goal. Even the losses are embraced.

The hard bit is to keep walking towards the goal even if you are under fire, even if you are hurting, even if the world is “going to hell in a hand-basket” (as the saying goes)…this attitude of trust is at the heart of the experience called “living yoga”.

 

STUDY HARD, LIVE LONG AND PROSPER…

NAMASTE – JAHNE