For yoga teacher training this past weekend, we had an amazing guest teacher, who personified beauty on so many levels. Outwardly she was kissed by the sun from her many outdoor pursuits, her arms were sculpted from rock climbing and her flexibility was honed by her yoga. She was the picture of health. Her beauty penetrated to much deeper levels as it became clear that her appeal was in her unblinking presence. She had the brave ability to bare her soul, to speak openly about her highs and lows with a room full of virtual strangers, and to hold you in her gaze and engage you without fear.
The coup de grace was when she produced a harmonium during savasana and chanted to us in heavenly tones. This yogi was the kind of person you meet and by the end of a your first conversation you flash back to the impulse you had in back when you were in first grade just to blurt out, “Wanna be friends?” I hope our guest teacher, Paisley Close, knows what an impact she made on many of us this weekend.
Beyond her approachable, charming nature and many talents, this woman has wisdom. Some of the words I wrote in my yoga journal this weekend were so enlightening that I know I will return to them again and again. Paisley was in Claremont to teach us a course on finding balance on the yogic path, a pranayama / meditation workshop, and spring detox and nourishing practice.
But here is what I learned;
During her philosophy lecture, I collected these pearls of wisdom. Suffering is the doorway to compassion. We endure tough times but we come out shinier, brighter and more self-assured on the other side. As seekers doing spiritual work, healing and creating personal meaning in our journey; we will feel more. Yet sensitivity is a double-edged sword. So we make our physical bodies strong to create a solid vessel in which to house all of these emotions.
In the pranayama/ meditation workshop I got many new tools to practice my breathing but an even greater gift was an understanding that had eluded me for years. I’ve always struggled to know the difference between prayer and meditation. Paisley’s explanation that prayer is asking the higher power for something and meditation is listening for the answer struck a chord with me. I am hoping to begin a home meditation practice over spring break in the hopes that starting this new habit during a peaceful week will help it to stick with me when school resumes.
During the spring detox class, I got dangerously close to figuring out a new arm balance, which I had never even attempted. Then merely calling upon the physical demonstration Paisley had given us coupled with her cues, I was able to hold the pose at home (when I was less physically exhausted) adding Eka Hasta Bhujasana (One leg over arm balance) to my repertoire. Paisley would be pleased because one of her goals was to teach us how to do things that we could still do when she wasn’t there. Mission Accomplished!