Teaching meditation and yoga is hugely rewarding.
There is a lovely moment, when working with your students, you start exploring the shift of perspective that happens when we start to observe differently.
Introducing the yogic techniques of observation, witnessing and non-attachment means talking about having a different relationship with ones thoughts, thinking and action.
You tell them that learning to become more aware of your thoughts and thinking seems hard.
You say, it seems hard, but with a little practice and with the right guidance we all have the ability to observe things from another standpoint.
You reassure them that these are not ‘thinking’ exercises. Meditation is not mental training as such. But it does involve a mental shift of perception.
And this new observation standpoint is arrived at through intuitive exploration. Which once mastered is easy.
In fact it’s effortless. Not hard at all…
When you tell your students that they are not their thoughts, you often receive one of three reactions:
- Nothing at all: Its as if these people already know. All you have done is confirmed it! They then want to know what’s next and how do I make it work.
- Relief: You can see it in their faces as they realise I don’t have to feel this way – it can all be different. I am free! That is a lovely moment.
- Shocked surprise: These people you can see are really confused. For the whole of their lives, up until this point, they have been told that their thoughts are real. But now it seems they have mistaken the drama going on in their heads and feelings that emerge – as real life. As their life.
It’s a huge surprise – It’s like when Neo woke up in the Matrix. Remember?
These reactions are great and you can work with all of them. The last one is perhaps the most challenging. It takes some convincing and lots of meditation practice to guide people towards this liberation.
Descartes’s dictum, ‘I think therefore I am’, has shaped the modern world and led us to where we are now – for good or bad. But we are on the cusp of moving away from this view of reality.
We have to.
There is a great moment on the yoga path when you suddenly become aware of your thinking as a thing. I remember for me it was a Tuesday evening in 1991.
A little bit of space opens up between you and the contents of your head. It’s a space from which to observe. There is a change in ones perception leading to new and different sort of perspective.
That’s when you realise that instead of being your thoughts you can see your thoughts. Which means that you are ‘outside’ looking in to what you previously thought was your entire world.
And then you start to get it.
There is something else going on. There is another space, another place in which to exist.
After a while you begin to suggest to your shocked and confused students they can choose to stop being the innocent victim, of their fabricated, mental narrative.
Its not real and just like a film it never ends well.
Instead they can choose to live here on Planet Earth, right in the flow of things?
Planet Earth, where the air is free and breathing is easy.
Planet Earth, where everything looks wonderful. Even Manchester.
Planet Earth, where nothing will hurt you.
Planet Earth, where you can do exactly what you want to do.
Planet Earth, where you can be who you really are.
And when you choose planet Earth over the made up place in your head you choose to come home.
To be home.
And when you are home it doesn’t stop there on Earth- there is the entire Universe too…
Now that is a place to live.