Have you ever had that feeling where something has changed or shifted in your life and you know you will never be the same? Good. Welcome to my week.
My mentor teacher Christina Sell was up in Vancouver this week giving a philosophy intensive to a small group of us and then teaching a large scale workshop. ( I included a few pictures from the weekend). I was so looking forward to really diving into the material and having a real kick butt yoga asana practice on the weekend but unfortunately I was sidetracked by some minor surgery. No arm balancing back bending craziness for me this week. Lucky for me, most of the philosophy week was pranayama, meditation, lectures, videos and discussions. I have to say though that my body was screaming to move. My brain was completely exhausted and I didn’t have the outlet of asana to integrate the new information. I tried to keep going back to the idea of adikara- studentship.
Adikara is a Sanskrit word which can be seen as two parts. “Adi”- oneself and “kara” to make. So studentship is the process of making oneself ready. One would think in my case that means making myself ready to become a certified teacher but I felt it was more about making myself ready just to be a better student. Adikara can also be translated as competent readiness- so literally to be a student you have to have already have gone through some process in my mind. I had to prepare to be a student in order to prepare to be a teacher.
I love how John Friend- the founder of Anusara Yoga– uses the five elements to describe what is necessary to be a good student.
Space: Open mind and heart. Ready to take in all that is offered.
Air: Changeable. A quick mind that is able to see connections and quickly grasp new ideas.
Fire: Clarity. A mind that is able to create the light of knowledge- to put light on that which was dark- unknown. I also see it as desire- the burning desire for knowledge and the will to change.
Water: Reflective. To see what is going on and being able to adapt- to flow around the obstacles.
Earth: Steadiness. Long lasting, steady dedication to your path.
These same 5 qualities of studentship are the same five qualities of a good teacher, or a good parent, or a good spouse- you get the idea. So this week I really was all five in varying degrees. Some days I needed more fire and other days I needed more earth etc. It was interesting to watch the process from that perspective rather than just “ I am so tired and my brain is so full I can’t take anymore“. And by the end of the week fire had truly shed light on what was so dark and confusing before and transformed my practice once again.
I like to think of my teacher Christina like a Sherpa. You are climbing up this big mountain together and you think it is all about you and your journey but you can only do it because the Sherpa already has. The Sherpa is part of the mountain already- the Sherpa has an understanding of not just climbing but the essence of the mountain itself. The Sherpa carries the light to show you the way. Christina takes it further though- once you walked the mountain for a while she hands you the light and says “ Now you go.” You realize the only way to get up that last part of the mountain is by your own light, your own transformational fire. At that moment the light shows you all the doubts, insecurities, and obstacles you have left on that path- and you make a choice. You chose to keep climbing or you stop and go back down. The Sherpa is not going to drag you up that mountain- and the last bit is the hardest. Even though the Sherpa is still with you, in some ways you are on your own. You have to deal with all the stuff you saw when you took the light.
I want to get up that mountain in two more years. I looked at the path behind me and I realize how far I have truly come. The last part is short and steep and frankly treacherous, but I think I have everything I need now to make good decisions on my way up that last part. Open like the sky, quick and changeable like the wind, full of the fire of desire, adaptable like water and steady like the earth – one foot after the other I will get there. Wish me luck.