29 October 2007

another kick in the yoga butt

"Actually, Sama, if you understood the extraordinary gifts every single challenge in your life makes possible, even inevitable, you'd celebrate your challenges, new and old alike, as the omens that they are of new beginnings, spectacular change, and enhanced super-powers.

Perfect for where you are, huh?
The Universe

I get daily emails from the Universe...yes, really, THE Universe. You can get your own, too, just visit the Universe's website! The one above is what I received today and I consider it serendipitous considering what I've been experiencing lately.

My regular readers know that before I left for my retreat I left the yoga studio where I was teaching. I got tired of the owner walking into my classes drunk. I was going to blog about the whole situation but decided against it. I wrote about her alcoholism earlier this year after she walked in 20 minutes late to a workshop I was teaching, drunk and disturbing everyone with her loud sighs and sobs. I wrote how two other teachers and I attempted an intervention with her the next day, showing up at the end of her last class -- which she had taught, once again, drunk. Needless to say, the intervention failed miserably. However, I deleted that post. She had a few links to this blog and I felt that if she chanced upon that post (although of course no names were mentioned) it would hurt her terribly and I did not want to do that.

Fast forward to a month ago. She walked into another class, drunk, when my students were in savasana. I told the three other instructors who were involved in the original intervention, telling them in no uncertain terms how I felt, that I had had enough. I went to the studio two days later to talk to her about it after one of her classes when students are gone. I was met with more lies, accusations, and denials. That was it for me. Gone. Finished. Locked out.

Since that time I've been dealing with lots of rage about the situation. Not rage about her alcoholism, but about the lies, deceptions, and manipulations that the studio is built upon. Rage about being abandoned for telling the truth. Rage that out of all the teachers -- most of whom knew about her addiction before I did -- only one supported me and defended me to her. All the others kept their mouths shut, even two who were involved in the intervention. The phrase "yoga community" makes me gag right now. As all our emotions manifest themselves in our bodies, I felt my rage settle into my body.

I went to the retreat feeling as if my body was a toxic landfill. Thank goodness we meditated for hours every day because the meditation began to chip away at the sludge. Thank goodness we did metta -- loving-kindness -- meditation. But after my return I still felt as if I had been abused. And those of you who live with an addict in your life know what I'm talking about. Until they own their addiction, they have to protect at all costs their right to drink.

I AM feeling the rage less and less, bits and pieces are falling away every day, a pebble here, a boulder there. It is still there, but the fire is slowly dying out. And then I got this email from a friend, who is also one of my students:

"I received (a quote) in my email that made me think of you:

'I always say that there's a kind of implicit mindfulness and wisdom in metta practice. The very process of letting go of a distraction implies in some way seeing its transparency, not freaking out over it, not being angry about it, not getting involved with it, not identifying with it. You may not consciously say to yourself, "Oh, look, this moment is changing," but you can't let go of the distraction unless you are actually seeing that. You would be trying to push it away from anger rather than actually letting go. So to do the metta practice, you actually bring forth that level of wisdom.' -- Sharon Salzberg, in Spirit Rock Meditation Center Newsletter, 1997 from Everyday Mind.

It was no irony that the quote came from Spirit Rock, where I had just been.

He continued:

"I know that you are angry & not yourself.... please look at it as an opportunity. not to be trite, but from my outside position I feel like it happened for a reason. don't close down, don't push people away, don't let hubris take over, and don't dwell on it.

you were obviously meant to teach somewhere else. focus & figure it out. you have a lot to teach & my joints are not so juicy. and please keep on writing about your retreat - like the buddha who chose to stay & teach after attaining enlightenment. the worst thing that you could do is not share it & not help guide the rest of us."

As it has turned out, I will begin doing workshops (and maybe teach) at another studio. I already teach out of my house on Saturday mornings but I am adding one more night for the students who supported me and who don't want to return to the studio. As for writing about the retreat, my next post will be about the asana aspect.

Through all this I also found out who my true friends are for which I am eternally grateful. You know who you are.


Unknown said...

yoga studio owner drunk?
shame. i'm glad you are finding greener pastures. hopefully the owner will be able to recover. that's a tough one. alcoholism is more common than many people know.

lovely post. the most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself.

Mike said...

Hi Linda,

You know my views on the subject already, of course. Good luck with your new endeavors, and thank you for making yourself available to your students in spite of any obstacles in your path.


Anonymous said...

Linda, you are so brave. Your friend's words are wise, so I have nothing to add other than that my thoughts and prayers are with you.


Kris said...

Thanks for your honesty. Rage is a tough one. It's a real practice to see the divine in someone, when there actions are so poor. In my own life, the best I can do (right now) is wait till my original frustration or anger quiets a bit, then directly the breath to my center nostrils. Finally, seeing the pain and unhappiness that this person must be in to act in such an unexceptable manner. I still wouldn't teach there, but knowing how messed up they must be deep inside might just be the doorway to compassion that will calm the rage.

Fran said...

Oh Linda,

I am so behind in my blog reading... I came over here and was stunned to read this post.

First of all, I laud your honesty and your desire for truth. What a situation you were in... untenable! And when others cooperate in the sham, well that is even worse.

It is sort of a microcosm of our society. Denial. Fear. Complicity.

However, due to your huge heart, your wisdom, your courage and your grace, you carry on.

Rage can't be excised like a limb that needs pruning. Here you are working with yours. The fine line of not feeding it but not starving it either.

And you are called to change and the retreat provided a block of time and space for that to begin.

I send you so many blessings and so much peace.

Linda-Sama said...

"And when others cooperate in the sham, well that is even worse.
It is sort of a microcosm of our society. Denial. Fear. Complicity."

ain't it the truth, girlfriend? you hit it right-on....

thanks so much for your words, your insight. I'm better. really! just took a while to process. it wasn't the addiction of the owner -- an addict is an addict is an addict and there are lots of lies and deceptions to protect their right to drink -- that got to me, it was the complicity.

may all beings have happiness!

Fran said...

I was thinking of this post and of you (and my gratitude to you and gartenfische for influencing me to return to my practice) when I got to the yoga studio last night.

This instructor is a particularly good one, but the whole studio is very special. And it really is about yoga, meditation, service there.

Light to all is the thought that came to me and that is reflected in your own words.

Shanti my sister and my friend.

Linda-Sama said...

you are just the sweetest thang, fran! I hope one day we can meet!

jai bhagwan!

Nadine Fawell said...

One step at a time, we are after all only human. You are doing great!

Unknown said...

betrayal in our community is as common as addiction, as we practice it only makes us more of what we are- if the yamas and niyamas are not the foundation of our moral compass- the practice will only enhance the aspects of the ego that the yamas and niyamas would have addressed. Having been betrayed in the community on a deeply personal level I understand the suffering you are expereincing. I also was not so overwhelmed by the source of the betrayal but rather by the complicity and willfulness of others not to hold to a strong moral line ..... i was mystified by that. But finally came to understand that it was all part of the karmic journey theirs and mine, that there was no seperation between my suffering and theirs, and that finally there was no seperation between my compassion and theirs. Took a while though.....
From the experience though a new community formed, strong in accountability and honesty- two things for me which are intwined with the practice.

So, this is for support- your growth from this will be amazing and your compassion will surprise you. Two things that helped me-

Astikya: faith, believing firmly in the teacher, the teachings and the path to enlightenment;

Mati: cognition, developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru's guidance;

The divines' grace radiates from all aspects of your life, both the merde and the roses-

Linda-Sama said...

mac, thank you, from my heart. your words ring so true.

I can not access your profile, would love to read your blog if you have one.

peace to you friend.