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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jun 7, 2010

Assessor form Hell - or - Lucy Lightfield from Athol Idaho

This morning I got up early and took Eli to Spokane to begin his camp counselor job at YMCA Camp Reed. And then I came back home where it was just just me and Rasa - the cat. Chris was at work until late. Leo is on a "bromance" senior trip with his 3 best friends (details on U-tube).

Wow - a wide open day.

I started by getting on the elliptical trainer and doing some chanting and memorization work (I'm working on memorizing some sanskrit texts as part of my work with Paul M-O). Then I spent a couple of hours doing business - e-mailing the groups that are signed up for the various up-and-coming trainings, scouting out home-stays, answering questions and assuaging anxieties (regarding the Teacher Training) that.

Then I spent some time fleshing out the ideas for, and prepping for, the Therapeutic training this weekend. As usual, when I turn my attention to -- or rather have time and space to turn my attention to -- a teaching subject, it's like turning on a fire hose. The issue will not be nervousness (as mentioned in my previous post). It will be to not plan too much - TMI - for Saturday when Sundari and I co-teach. I have about enough creative inspiration coming through the fire hose for a year long program. And I am sure Sundari has enough for a 3 year program.

After that it was time for a righteous - albeit late - lunch. I have a lot of good produce now.
(I trade Yoga for the best organic produce in the universe). For lunch I had steamed greens, steamed asparagus and raw greens, topped with blue cheese, olive oil and balsamic. SO good.

Next I spent time studying some materials that I'm working on with Paul M-O and also did some more e-mail work.....and generally played secretary to my business.

Then it was time for a late-in-the day asana and meditation. And now - here I am. I could hardly wait to finish meditation and start writing. I think I may have been writing while I was meditating. (More of the fire hose effect).

Here's what was surging up and demanding to be put into writing during my meditation:

I have been occupying the seat of the teacher for a long time now and in a lot of contexts. In the Anusara yoga context (yep- here we go - Yoga) I "got certified" in 2001. I was number 47 to get certified. (I know that's true because it's on my certificate).

The more established I've become in the "seat of the teacher" - the harder it has been to get real feedback. Or so it seems to me. I get a lot of feedback about how great my teaching is. I admit - I like that. Honestly - that kind of feedback gives me the necessary courage to keep teaching. But it is not feedback on technical refinement points. I actually go out of my way to ask people to please tell me what needs improvement or clarification. That request really doesn't work. I mean - who wants to take a class with their designated teacher and then have to give them constructive criticism? It is just not realistic. Also there's the power differential, which is real and significant, even in the context of a small studio in a small town in North Idaho. The teacher is in her seat, the student is in her seat. And all that is a good and necessary, an hierarchical dynamic - a power differential - that allows the current of transmission to flow. It's not different than electricity. But it is not a dynamic that lends itself easily to "constructive feedback". It's not what it's designed for. But still - as a teacher - I do want feedback on technical refinement points. I have to work this out for myself and not expect my students to do it for me.

So I do this in various ways. I have a strong practice of meditation and contemplation....this helps me be my own self-observation-ally. I have a spiritual teacher.....this helps me not fool myself in my self observation efforts - helps me keep my compass set to true North. But in terms of the techniques of teaching and getting precise feedback to help me refine my teaching: I recently hired Beth. She is a veteran public school teacher who has won every teaching award known to man. She also teaches Anusara Yoga. I hired her to give me feedback.

In addition to Beth's help, Terri - videographer extraordinaire - filmed me teaching a class. I am going to sit down with Kali (goddess who wears skulls and various body parts as jewelry) and be the "assessor from hell" -- assess my own teaching to see if I am certifiable. I have my doubts. I will keep you posted.

Woven in with all of this, I have had a fantasy of applying for certification under an alias - and then going through the whole process again. (The certification process has gotten considerably harder than when #47 got passed through. In those days John watched every video himself and called every single candidate up to say Yay or Nay) .

Anyway - to continue with my fantasy of "the great certification application ruse"....... when I get to the point where I need to submit a video - I will just change a few things - like I will get a wig. I will name Karen S-F as my teacher. Maybe my assessor will know me and just think I look a lot like Karen S-F. I will see if I can get certified.

I might actually do this. I think it would be good for me and for all my students, especially those who are also teachers who are in one way or another being assessed. In the past week alone, I've had correspondence from three different, and all wonderful, teachers who are in the Inspiration / Certification process - and who wonder if they are capable....wonder if they are not too old, too young, too slow, too stupid, too ignorant, too heavy, too physically incompetent, too 'not shiny', - to be assessed with any kind of positive outcome. I tell them - well - it's a great process and it is hard and it is intense. It is a process of alchemy and transformation. And its evolutionary. I completely believe these things I am telling them. So maybe I should go through that process again.....submit myself to a great process that is intense because it is a process of alchemy and transformation. And if I do - nobody but me will know. I might be Suzanne - or Lucy - Lucy Lightfield from Athol Idaho.


  1. You're a brave person, Lucy.

    Wish I could join y'all this weekend for Sundari (thought I'd try, but high plane fares and 'sold out') are keeping me in SLC until the next weekend.

    Hope to see you soon,

  2. will Lucy start her own blog of her certification journey? will she have to get inspired first? if she needs a study partner, lemme know because I'd love to hang out with her! :)