Was teaching assistant to Mani Ch. at the Yoga Teachers training course in Madurai in February, it was of course the best TTC group ever (or, at least, the best this year, as Mani kept congratulating us!)
Each time I work though a TTC as they’re affectionately called in Sivananda organisation, I learn something from the amazing process that happens – about myself, and the work I still need to do. Tthis TTC was no different.
If anyone thinks being in the ashram protects you from the complexities or evils of the world, don’t be fooled – these tings reach inside the protected space in double strength, and finds you – on this particular TTC, we even had an evil wizard, a couple of beautiful princesses in distress, princes who had to overcome huge personal hurdles, so many people making life altering decisions each day, fantastic parties and festivals, the incredible dancing Orbs, quiet moments with new friends, and lots of Yoga.
What I learned this month in India was the inkling of a kind of patient acceptance that I have been aiming for – but not achieved. It included doing things I really did not want to do, but which seemed to be necessary and I was asked them by the Swami in charge, who I love. And in overcoming my dislikes, I felt a real sense of release. Finally I start to understand the concept that if we can overcome our dislikes, we can be completely free.
And its not from ignoring or avoiding the issue or the thing we hate, but from completely accepting it, doing the chore we hate, being with a person we dislike, dealing with a crisis not of our making and which we prefer to avoid – avoiding and thinking about these things makes us stressed and the victims of other people’s actions.
I found that when I was able to simply go ahead and be in an uncomfortable space, or listen to a horrible person, or do a horrible job, the thing I disliked was quickly over or moved away and I did not have to fear it anymore. I can’t recommend the process to anyone else, as it may well be a personal thing I needed to go through (isn’t everything!!) and the sanskrit word “santosha”, also the name of a very dear friend in India who exemplifies this concept, has become a watchword for me.
It is one of the great teachings of yoga – from the Yoga verses of the great Sage Patanjali – he spoke of practises we need to embed in our lives before we even think of watching the breath, or standing on our heads (never mind our two feet) – the Yamas and Niyamas, 10 golden concepts for a happy life. Santosha is one of them – it is said if we can perfect the implementation of just one in our life, we will become Self-Realised. Well, acceptance, contentment, being OK with what is happening and how much I have, has an effect on so many aspects of my life and thinking that I start to understand that.
Not Self-realisation of course, just how fully implementing such a broad-brush practise, even just this 1/1oth of the golden apples of wisdom offered by Patanjali, could bring me to a state of complete peace. It was tasted in the ashram this year – after a few years of being in that kind of space and really not getting it, disliking a bunch of things and working hard to change them, finally something moved in me and — “Santosha” – I felt what it might feel like.
PS the title refers to being a guinea pig with a pillow stuffed in my tee-shirt, for all the new teachers to prod and photography for their teachers training albums back home. Did I want to do it? No!!! was it ok? Yes, actually, it was fun in the end. Durga is a gifted teacher so I’ll thank her for that, but the practise of Santosha was partially responsible too.