Jivamukti 2011 teacher training at Omega
it was a short, strange trip to get to the 2011 Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training at Omega. i started with no money only a few months before it was to begin. it cost quite a bit, but it was the path I knew i belonged on. these things choose you, and what are you to do? you put your faith in the wisdom of the ocean that holds you until you become the waves and the water. otherwise you slowly sink out of the light into some unknown depths.
the time between deciding to go and somehow actually being there was spent trying to change my relationship to money, by changing my perception of money. magic, i learned, is a change of perception. i followed the advice found in the diamond cutter, and gave generously of what i had. i tried being kind to everyone i met. i tried my best to see everyone as holy.
as the due date for paying for the course approached, new orleans seemed increasingly otherworldly to me. a necklace of special significance to me exploded on mardi gras day, while i was hula hooping, with a crowd of people watching me dancing to the pounding pulse of african drummers beating their animal skins. I bought the string of beads and skulls on my 39th birthday in san francisco, spun out to infinity on some tainted molly. i had to have my friend translate my desire for the object to the woman selling it, who i perceived in that moment as a voodoo priestess. i think i freaked her out a bit. as the necklace burst into pieces it all came back to me, how two years after haggling for the necklace i fell in love , got my heart broken, and ended up in the big easy. i remembered lying on my back in my first jivamukti class with tears pouring from my shavasana bespeckled eyes, pain and happiness intricately intertwined.
after that, on the day of the supermoon this march, my jivamukti teacher had a baby girl. i had a vision of a girl coming into the world, sometime before the necklace broke. the mississippi river kept getting higher and covered the beach in the bywater we called 'the world's end'. i would walk with my roommate aviva's dog and do yoga by the missing sand, playing my ukulele as she ran beside me, unleashed. i took lots of pictures and met lots of people, and grew ever closer to my teachers and the teachings. I made and lost a beautiful friend, held faith strong and close for weeks and months, and then thought for a long moment that i had failed. i let all go. as soon as i did it all happened.
when i think now of the following month spent at omega, with my jivamukti class, it is like another dream. the teachings were so deep and profound. we got them day after day and hour after hour and still wanted more. we would practice asana and meditation and chanting every day, which gave us the stamina to absorb the yogic philosophy. we were blessed to be taught by jivamukti founders david life & sharon gannon, advanced jivamukti teacher jeffrey cohen and seven amazing mentors. everything was thought through and put together with so much care. the course was professional and prestigious, but more importantly transcendent.
every night we would all dress in white, 125 ethereal angels trying to relish such perfect impermanence. i smiled and smiled and everyone smiled back. i remember at burning man feeling a similar feeling. "oh, the world can be like this!" it does not need to be the way that we perceive it, in fact it isn't. together we agree upon the world that seems to be. there is always the possibility of other worlds based upon other agreements.
we studied sanskrit with the saintly manorama, who inspired the light of this ancient language in our beings. she taught with such spiritual wisdom and compassion. the first night she sang us sanskrit chants and i cracked open. it hit me at once how this was all given to me. i felt so blessed to be there. such gratitude. so humbled i could not begin to describe the intensity of it with my native tongue. through the kindness of my friends, family, and teachers i was here, experiencing this. the only way to repay such generosity is to spend my life giving to others.
this year has placed me at the lotus feet of the divine mother. it was my beautiful birth mother who gave me the last amount i needed to get to the training. my mother who is a devout christian and believes in only one religion, but still has love for me as her yogi son. i offer my heart to sharonji, the divinely inspired co-founder of jivamukti, who guided me through the process of applying for a scholarship and encouraged me even when i faltered. and to my beloved jivamukti teachers in new orleans, keith, michele, and libby, who believed in me so much that it was easy to believe in myself, seeing myself through their eyes. this self i perceive, ever changing, genderless beneath this life i was born into. or perhaps genderful. i have given birth to this new me. pashupa.
i write these prose to honor all of you in my satsang. i am remembering the sound of our voices as we sang. we were one for that month, and we will be one for always. now we know that the changeless part of us can only be known by observing what changes. what doesn't change is what we are, all of us as one. we have been given some foothold in the mountain of this understanding. we have experienced something together beyond the ordinary. i miss you all so much.
the pictures in the following slide show are the special posed pictures i took on the omega campus of some of you. i hope you will love them. i wish i could have photographed everyone this way. perhaps i will travel around the world to finish that project. or perhaps you will come visit me. or perhaps we can be reminded of one another through this familiar vedic prayer:
sarve bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niramayah sarve bhadrani pashyantu, ma kaschid duhkha-bhag bhavet
may all be happy may all be free from sickness may all look to the good of others may none suffer from sorrow