Below is a question that was asked in a Facebook yoga group I belong to. As a teacher who is persona non grata in my local “yoga community”, it was an important question. My answer to the teacher’s question is below it.
“I’m wondering how people experience and process professional jealousy. It seems to be a part of our normal human experience, but it feels particularly horrible – sticky, viscous and taboo. Sometimes it’s ridiculous – resenting that a new teacher, who I’ve mentored and supported – has ten people in their first class, even though most of them are friends there to offer support. Other times it’s more peer-related: why has that person received that opportunity (even if it’s one I didn’t want) or that recognition or that amount of money? For me, it seems to be rooted partly in anxiety about my capacity to make a living (which is compromised because of my disabilities), and partly in a voracious need to be seen – which I can laugh about, but there it is.”
“I think it’s all about finding your niche and to stop trying to be all things for every yoga student. I’m not a “love and light” type of teacher so for those people looking for that, I’m not their teacher. There are plenty of others out there who will be. I always remember what I heard Seanne Corn say in a workshop, that she’d rather teach to the two who get it (i.e., what she teaches) than the 10 who don’t. I’ve reconciled myself with that. That might not mean a lot of money in my yoga bank account, but it’s all about choices. I’d rather be me than try to be something I’m not. I’m not going to fake it to make it.”
What say you, yoga peeps? Are you faking it by pushing down your emotions as if they are something dirty?
From my Buddhist perspective, less than beneficial emotions are not to be transcended, they are merely to be recognized and let go. Yes, I know, SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY.
In this Facebook yoga group some said negative emotions should be transcended so we can evolve into an enlightened state. Good luck with that Humans!
It fascinates me to see how many yoga people believe we are supposed to be immune to jealousy, hate, anger, bitterness, etc. merely because we practice yoga. A 200 hour training, 1000 hours, or even 10,000 hours of training does not mean we become enlightened. I mean seriously?! Ramana Maharshi spent days in such deep samadhi that he was unaware of ant bites. THAT’S trancendance, people!
After about six weeks, “he was carried out and cleaned up. For the next two months he stayed in the Subramanya Shrine, so unaware of his body and surroundings that food had to be placed in his mouth or he would have starved.” And we expect to become enlightened or transcend painful emotions just because we do a little yoga? WHAT?! One woman commented in the Facebook group that she felt “immature” and so “unevolved” for having an emotion like jealousy. I’ve heard the Dalai Lama say that sometimes he still gets annoyed at reporters’ dumb questions. Hey, if HHDL can get miffed about dumb questions, so can I.
I have found these things to be extremely helpful to me over the years.
The first thing is the wonderful book Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi. It is not a recent book but I think it’s the best I’ve read about our shadows on the spiritual path. It will definitely be required reading if I ever get around to creating a teacher training. My copy is heavily underlined and dog-eared.
The second thing is Jack Kornfield’s technique of RAIN: “RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Non-Indentification. This acronym echoes the Zen poets who tell us “the rain falls equally on all things.” Like the nourishment of outer rain, the inner principles of RAIN can transform our difficulties.”
I also recommend Phillip Moffitt’s book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life. The Amazon blurb: “Despite our best-laid plans, life is difficult, and we sometimes experience anger, anxiety, frustration, and doubt. This emotional chaos can negatively affect the way we live our lives. Yet, Phillip Moffitt shows us that by cultivating a responsive mind rather than a reactive one, we can achieve a state of emotional clarity that allows us to act with a calm mind and a loving heart.”
Stop beating yourself up for being human. You’re only a yoga teacher. 😉