Over the last few months I found myself often wondering if maybe I should quit teaching in order to have time to take care of the business of the studio and the school. In retrospect, this is a crazy idea....but when I get too far behind on my job of secretary to my business, I do get mildly crazy.
In addition, over the last year I was questioning at a deeper level, whether I have any business teaching Yoga. I had doubts. I also had doubts about a few of my own mentors and teachers; about the whole machine of "Yoga as commodity; about the possibility of truly teaching anything but fitness Yoga in a culture that wants drive-through-everything. I had doubts about Yoga in general and my place in Yoga in particular. And not surprisingly, all of this worked as a kind of debridement on my psyche since my life is largely about practicing and teaching the tradiion of Yoga.
[Debridement is the medical removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue. Removal may be surgical, mechanical, chemical, or by maggot therapy, where certain species of live maggots selectively eat only necrotic tissue. Wanna see a picture?…Google will oblige].
Then in December I ran a Yoga and meditation retreat. We remained mostly in silence, except for a LOT of chanting and some formal dialogue practice. It was a very, very, very strong 6 days. The participants were amazing - steady - not wavering. I think we must have blown Light into some dark corner of the universe.
One of its effects of that retreat, for me personally, was another sort of debridement....in terms of language and talking and all the yada-yada-yada that comes out of my mouth when I teach.
After that retreat, I wondered if I might be able to teach silent yoga for the rest of my life. Or how about "Silent Hot Yoga"....Or - let's see - "Silent Hot Power Yoga"....Yeah! That's it....and no whining (at least not out loud).
Well, I have continued to talk and teach. I did stop writing. I needed a language detox...and not just a language detox but a detoxifying scouring out of my assumptions about teaching Yoga.
It's been a long detox / debridement, but now I feel myself coming out the other end. (No pun intended......you know how there's always a lot of concern about 'the other end" when doing a detox :)
Back to the current retreat:
I had originally set up this retreat to as a sadhana retreat - to dive into my practices with time for lots of meditation asana, contemplation, etc. But as the time for the beginning of the retreat got closer it became obvious - in a happy way - that what I really needed was a work retreat. And so a work retreat is what I have been doing for almost 2 weeks. Every morning I get up, do my morning meditation, pranayama and asana practice, eat some granola and apples.....then get to work. The work includes going through years and years of teaching documents I've written on everything from shoulder therapy to asana sequences to tantric philosophy. I've been weeding out, re-writing, editing, saving, deleting, re-organizing and deleting some more. I've also been doing some work on overhauling the Immersion and Teacher Training curriculum. When I leave here, I will still have a lot to do but I will have a work-map laid out - rather than a million documents packed into a virtual old barn that is bulging at the sides and about to collapse.
I take breaks to hike, meditate and nap. I rarely see anyone. I have been preparing my own food – kicharee in a crock pot for dinner - simply because that allows me to stay in silence and focused attention. (Otherwise I would go to the dining hall and eat with the sisters).
I am at Saint Gertrude's monastery outside of Cottonwood Idaho where my grandparents homesteaded. The monastery is a stone's throw from my grandmother's house, a mile away from my other grandmother's house and close to the graveyard where my mother was buried in her wedding dress since she died so young.
Saint Gertrude's is where my great aunt came when, at the age of 16, she left her family behind in Switzerland, never to see them again. She came to America, changed her name to Sister Theresa, became a Benedictine sister and lived and died here at the monastery . For years in advance of her passing, she told everyone that she would die at the age of 100 on All Saint's Day. And so she did. Every day, when I go for my hike I walk past her grave up on the hillside.
It's strange and amazing to be here with my ancestral past all around me, and my Yoga past packed densely into the files I’ve been working on. I feel like I am inside the archetypes that gave rise to the architecture of “Karen Sprute”. I am removing the dead stuff. What remains is already feeling healthier…. More alive. Aglow.