On our first night, we went down to the lower yoga deck and sat in a circle. We were told to wear black. Our teacher instructed us to lie down on our backs, with our heads facing in towards the center of the circle, and our arms by our sides with our eyes closed. The assistant teacher walked around and would tap someone on the shoulder and that person was to say their name and then answer three questions, still laying down all with our eyes closed: How are you feeling and what does it feel like in your body?; What are you afraid of people knowing or finding out about you?; and what do you hope to leave here with or achieve by the end of the month? Once we answered all three questions, we stated our name again. Each person shared and, as we went around answering these questions, we heard people’s truths: truths about insecurities, fears, hopes, doubts, and desires. When we finished, our teacher said, “Look around the room. You have eaten a meal and gotten to know one another a little bit today, but you’ve now been introduced your true selves.”
This set the tone for the week. We have laughed together, cried together, even screamed together, sharing some of our most intimate stories. And the most beautiful part: we are all different.
Within our group of 28 people, nearly 10 countries are represented. I also participated in a teacher training for a kids yoga program called Kidding Around Yoga and there were 12 of us from 8 different countries. It has been an amazing experience hearing people’s stories. We even participated in a bi-lingual kids yoga class in which the teacher taught in both English and Spanish. It is amazing!
And yet – adding to the most beautiful part: we are all different, but we are all exactly the same.
As the Sutras teach us, we all come from Parusha (Source/God/Universal Energy) and that is our true nature. We have all these different aspects of ourselves – different bodies, personalities, etc. – but underneath it all is “a never-changing One.” Our true selves are really all the same. Patanjali, the man who wrote the Sutras, taught that only once we can strip down the differences and see each other as this One, we will finally be able to “love our neighbors as our own Self.” We have to see that we are all truly One.
I struggled to reconcile this with my own faith beliefs, but I have come to realize that this is part of the ancient Judaic and early Christian teachings as well. To love my neighbor as myself, as Jesus instructs, I must see myself in my neighbor; to see myself in my neighbor I must see that we are both ultimately human, made in the image of God: we are one and the same, though we are different. Once we realize this, we can celebrate our differences as creations of our one true Source. We can love one another.
Now that I have completed my kids teacher training, I’ll hopefully be able to write more here. Until then, I send my love to you all and pray that you feel the peace reverberating from this place.