On friendship

shareI’m starting up my little bit of teaching again in a week and my thoughts are turning from my own practice to my teaching. I have a weekly semi-private with two former colleagues who sit on the edge of my friendship circle: we do a little bit of mostly in-office socialising, lunch and stuff. Ordinarily I’m a very private person — I have boundaries at work and I don’t expect to get too friendly with my own teachers. I know there’s a line between friends and students… But they wanted me to teach them, so here I am. And it’s been working well. So well in fact that now they’ve asked to bring a friend of theirs along. Why would I say no? The more the merrier — though if we went beyond this happy trio I’d need a bigger room (or less furniture…). 

So it’s no coincidence that in planning my teaching I’m drawn to a theme of friendship to open the new year. I’ve had some fun putting together some ideas to explore this: ideas of friendliness to self and others, support vs competition, compassion and so on.

imageI’d like to introduce some philosophy and maybe a little chanting. They said they’re interested. So maitrī ādiṣu balāni (PYS 3.24) might be a nice place to start: “By meditating on friendliness and such things, strengths are acquired”. The notion that strength of whatever kind might arise from love and openness towards ourselves and others will lead nicely into a nice non-striving āsana practice, practising friendliness towards the body with all its perceived flaws, foibles and limitations in flexibility. We might start out with some soft ‘warriors of light’ and maybe feel our way into a bit of playful partner work (those cheesy moves where you support each other balancing in Natarajāsana or Vṛkśāsana!), including plenty of namaskāra mudras along the way and finishing with some generous heart openers. Maybe finally we’ll get to a metta meditation and consider widening circles of compassion and empathy and the challenges we meet in entertaining friendliness towards those we don’t especially like or don’t know…

I could play with this forever. One idea merges into another. It’s certainly enough to entertain us for a good month!

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