Illuminating contrast

I was talking recently with a student who volunteered that she finds meditation in noisy places easier than in silence. She has stopped getting up so early for practice because she found the deep silence too difficult, whereas the noise of rush-hour traffic was much easier! I’ve found this to be true for myself too. Somehow the background noise gives me some context to settle into my inner silence. I guess it’s like the stillness in the centre of asana; it’s defined by being contained by its opposite.

My practice at the moment feels suddenly rather joyful. Now that’s a big contrast to my habitual experience 🙂 . I’m trying just to flow with this, to revel in the unexpected novelty of ease. And I do deserve it, I tell myself. But in truth I’m also feeling a little guilty. Because I think that some of the unaccustomed grace I’m experiencing (what’s not simply due, that is, to the delightful heatwave we’re having which makes all things feel better to me! 🙂 ) is down to the fact that I have some students who are struggling with their practice and turning to me for advice.

Their obvious difficulties highlight my ease; their continued suffering reveals some dark places I have enlightened for myself, some mini-liberations I am awarded through my practice.

I share some thoughts and experiences with my students, hoping that I provide good advice about the rotator cuff injury and that I offer reassurance in the face of personal doubt and uncertainty. I feel such compassion for them in their suffering; I wish I could remove their burdens. Would that I had that magic wand my mum always said she wanted when I was sick as a child and she was desperate to magic me better. But I know this isn’t my role, even if it were possible. As one of my teachers once reminded me: you can’t do the work for them.

The relationship of teacher to student is so new to me from this direction, I am exploring my way of how best to support them, how much to offer, how much to trust their own innate sense of what’s needed, how to remain stable and calm even when their suffering distresses me. Can I find some balance of care and detachment, such as I see in my own teacher, whose length of service to yoga outstrips mine many times over so that I feel he literally has seen it all before? His seasoned perspective presents itself in an attitude of reassurance and gravity, an embodiment of ‘guru’ in the sense of ‘weightiness’ and solidity.

In contrast to that I feel very lightweight.

But I must trust that to the students who come to me for guidance I, in turn, offer the stability that they seek. In contrast to their current fluctuations, the depths of my own experiences and the steadiness of my practice provide solid enough foundations to support them too. I realise my practice isn’t wholly my own any more; I must share whatever fruits there are. I suppose this is the natural way of the cycle of learning and sharing.

2 thoughts on “Illuminating contrast

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  1. svadhyaya pravacane ca! And I think you’re right – whether we’re “guru” or “laghu” depends on the context… we’re likely weaving in and out of these all the time : ) I’m confident that there is a much larger context that I cannot access now where it all makes sense…

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