No matter where in the world you go, the human desire to achieve connection, fulfillment and lasting peace is always present. I find myself thinking this way having just returned from teaching Yoga in Brazil.
Integral Yoga has a dynamic Institute in Belo Horizonte, a large city in south central Brazil, where I taught 13 people (in) the art of teaching Raja Yoga. We spent 12 consecutive days discussing, practicing and immersing ourselves in this science of the mind, and how it can be integrated into the way we live.
Halfway through the training, I guided the group through an exercise in which each person first examined an area of personal struggle and then committed to practicing a specific teaching that would apply to this issue. Afterwards, we all shared our reflections.
One person wanted to address the obsessive self-criticism that she frequently noticed. She practiced substituting a more positive and truthful affirmation when those thoughts would arise. Another person practiced having compassion for family members, and to not take personally the hurtful things they might say when they were suffering. I decided to practice Santosha, or contentment, as a way to cope with my mind’s tendency toward incessant and anxious planning.
I continue practicing this. While I value the need to prepare for things properly, I also want to enjoy the present moment without constantly thinking of all the things I still need to do. It feels so good when I allow myself to really relax into the present moment and trust that I will take care of the future at the proper moment.
During my first week in Brazil, I spent almost all my time either teaching or preparing to teach. But when we had a half day off, I had my first experience with rappelling.
When my host mentioned the opportunity, I thought it would be fun until we arrived at an old, unused highway bridge and I saw just how high above the valley below we were—over 120 feet.
We had good safety gear and proper training, but it was still quite the challenge to lower myself over the edge and dangle so far above the nearby trees. (Now that was a moment that was difficult to relax into!) I ended up loving it and took two more turns descending. I was rewarded with an orange t-shirt reading, “Samari Adventures”.
We ended the training with each of the participants giving a 15 minute presentation on a specific topic. Watching how much each of them had grown as a teacher filled me with a sense of joy and real accomplishment—I felt like a proud papa. They all embraced the teachings of Yoga wholeheartedly, and it gives me hope for our world to think of these sincere yogis living by and sharing these precious teachings in their interactions and relationships.