By Karen Faunce, 01-Jan-2012 19:36:00
Many new years have frequently begun with a sense of urgency. I have journals filled with to-do lists and a backlog of things to fix this year about my life or myself. The Happy New Year subtext reads that “This is a time to take stock, winnow out our flaws, and start doing something about them Now, on January 1—a mystical date connecting us to a mysterious portal within ourselves toward increasing perfection.” As though our resolve, fueled by a flurry of consumerism, over-indulgence and concentrated family time, is now at its strongest to finally tackle our darker habits, our entrenched attitudes and that pesky belly fat.
Actually many of these goals are quite noble, or at least reflect a desire to align with nobler parts of ourselves that we know will actually improve our health, relationships and service to others. The yoga tradition says, therefore, that if you’re serious about these things, that there’s a way to get there. My teacher, Karen Sprute-Francovich spoke quite eloquently on the subject in a recent class. She said, basically, that our New Year’s intentions typically are just not asking the right question. January 1 is not meant to be used as a time to tally our flaws and figure out ways to fix them, but rather to ask “How do I best align with the Light that already exists within me?”
The notion of self-improvement is a bit of a prickly proposition within the context of yoga—though that’s often the underlying motivation that many people have for doing the practice (or making New Year’s resolutions.) You see, the study and practice of yoga, at its essence, is the study of the Self—that is, the undying Light of Consciousness that lives within, imbues, and enlivens all things—and cannot be improved upon. The tradition tells us that at our basic essence we already Are that light, just really condensed, uniquely coalesced, and free; and that in that freedom, we have myriad ways of clouding, occluding, blocking and forgetting about that Light. So, at New Year’s, or at any other time, our task is simply to clear the pathways to our own source of Light. “How?” you ask. Why, *practice* of course. (Hello! This is a Yoga Blog : ) !) And within the context of practice, we align ourselves to our highest intentions, our highest visions, our noblest goals and aims.
This is what I’ll be doing, anyway. I’m unlikely to do away with my list-making. But some years on the mat have finally begun to teach me of the benevolence and potency of this work. My yoga practice, at its best, is done with sincerity, and with trust-- that rather than thinking that I'm just a problem to be solved, that I can instead aim to be a better carrier of that Light Wave. And then, gradually, daily things, such as diet, activities and attitudes, begin to structure themselves in a manner more conducive to my nobler purposes, and more reflective of an authentic source of Radiance that I didn't create, but have the continuing invitation to engage with and express. As we all do.
So, here’s to the Light within each of you. Happy New Year! Cheers!
By Karen Faunce, 28-Dec-2011 18:27:00
I love yoga. I love studying yoga and I love teaching it. I basically have two main repositories for my attention these days: family- both biological and beyond, and yoga. This made my recent resignation from Nourish Yoga difficult. I loved many aspects of teaching yoga there. I will deeply miss the students I had the honor of teaching, and I’ll miss the collaboration with other teachers.
That said, I know how attention works. My studies have taught me that my attention is the only real commodity that I have to offer this life (this is a quote by another yoga teacher) and that what I give my attention to, or what I allow my attention to be consumed by, is of the highest order of consideration when it comes to living in a way that’s aligned with my priorities. Attention is how we focus our energy: our physical energy, our money, our thoughts, our time.
This fall, I taught more yoga than I’ve ever taught in my life; indeed, more than I thought possible for one person. I made that choice, in order to honor previous commitments while saying yes to new opportunities, and what resulted was that my attention and energy was no longer being used in a sustainable way. First, I had far too little time for my family. My attention to my own life and household was deleteriously affected. Second, I was physically exhausted. My attention to my own well-being was being compromised and this made service to my students and to my family very difficult. Third, I lost touch with my own yoga practice, which is the most potent way that I focus my attention to feed the energy reserves I use for the rest of my life. And finally, the studio, which consumed the lion’s share of my attention this fall, was not sustaining me in a manner commensurate with my training (comprising years of attention and energy given to doing my practice and learning the craft of teaching) or my energy expenditures there in the way of my time.
What I am engaged in now can be termed “a sabbatical”—a time of rest, reflection and growth. My family, my health, my practice and my studies will be given some overdue attention. I also hope to continue to make strides toward my Anusara® Yoga certification- a demanding process that will culminate in a well-worthwhile acknowledgement of many years of attention to this study, and will serve to improve my teaching even further.
It’s my personal belief that yoga really is a very high path of service to people. So, please be assured of my commitment to be teaching public classes again soon. Please visit this website for announcements about upcoming events. I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to fulfill my duties as a “yoga blogger.” I do love to write, and perhaps more frequent written reflections on the life of yoga practice will result from my decision to teach less for the time being.
I offer my humblest gratitude for the attention that you’ve given in order to read this post. May your practice flourish, and may your daily life be filled with the rewards that result from paying attention to what is most important.
All the best wishes for the New Year and Namaste~
By Karen Faunce, 04-Sep-2011 23:44:00
What is alive in me today is gratitude. As I work on this little website project (finally, after a very long time of talking about it) I'm grateful that I'm finally able to put all these activities on the yoga path into one place. And the first thing I want to publish in this one place is my enormous debt to my teachers.
Teachers have appeared so plentifully and generously in my life that I don't actually have the Bandwidth to thank all of them. But then, that's the point of this post. Each of us has benefitted so much from the knowledge, work, creativity and service of so many others, that the debt is insurmountable. There is no way I can be here without the fact that others were there --in multiple arenas of my life-- for me to learn from.
Beginning with my participation in a meditation program in India in 1988, and continuing through the present day, I'm blessed by the amazing people who make serving others through teaching sadana (practice) their priority. At their best, yoga teachers help us turn the lens of our awareness inward. They help relieve our pain and show us our gifts, our inherent goodness, our unique light. They help us polish and hone our light through the physical, emotional, spiritual, practical and esoteric practices of yoga- as we are ready for them.
The teachers I'd like to personally acknowledge in this post for their continuing influence on my work are:
Mr. BKS Iyengar
Truly, when someone is willing to engage with you at the level of Yoga, with only your best interest at heart, there's no way you're ever going to be even. And truly, for the yoga teacher, the only option for paying back her teachers is to pass it on to others with the same generosity. Most of what I teach was given to me by another teacher. I just hope to have enough energy, skill, integrity and time to do it all justice.
All the Best Wishes and Namaste,
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