Broke Teacher III: Take Your Vision Board And Shove It Up Your…

Via Kristoffer Nelson
on Apr 28, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

To be clear, I don’t have a huge problem with vision boards or other elements of modernity that support pre-modern practices of magical thinking and childlike wonder.  Such practices and perspectives can be helpful.  And for individuals that are visually oriented, creating a picture of goals can be a useful practice. Vision boards aren’t all bad, and the views and practices surrounding them can be detrimental to living a conscious proactive life of depth and fulfillment.

There are two specific elements to the reality we humans experience: the interior and the exterior.

The challenges that those in the yoga and consciousness driven culture experience in the external world is rooted deeply in the ancient story of humanity’s drive towards greater consciousness.  To make a broad and sweeping generalization, all activities and cultures of deepening consciousness place a preference in the internal.  If you’re reading this blog right now, you probably have a preference for the internal.

Yoga and its related family of spiritual pursuits values internal development and internal goals above all else.  Yogis give themselves to this with reckless abandon spiriting towards enlightenment and bliss.  In this pursuit, preferences and practices towards success and stability in the external world are rejected for movement and growth in the internal world.

Make no mistake, based on my experience, contentment, abundance, and satisfaction does not always translate to the external equivalent of the same.  In fact, it can be detrimental to the external.  As an example, here’s a comment from Broke Teacher I:

In rejection of the external for the internal, attaching to the ideal that as long as I feel abundant I am in fact abundant personal interior and exterior development is arrested and the world suffers.  Reality rears its ferocious head gnawing towards the truth that something is wrong – income drops, and in the least we’re not living the life we truly want and in the worst bills stack up.  The stress and pressure of reality that gives no mind or license to the internal perspective over the external (in reality, both are one) starts to press.  In the yogi’s desperate attempt to hold to the beliefs of their interior oriented perspectives the increased production of vision boards, Lakshmi chants, and the cultivation of feelings of abundance root them more deeply in their own delusion.

In a reality that is one, there are two fundamental perspectives and experiences – the inside and the outside.  When one side is liberated, though both are indeed ultimately one, both do not become liberated, because both are different.  Their difference requires different practices and approaches.

Personally, I pursued life differently than most.  Early on, I rejected the world, the exterior, for pursuits of the interior.  Most take an opposite approach driven by culture to pursue the exterior and eventually turn to the interior because they are not whole and satisfied.  For me, gaining success in the interior was deeply satisfying, and reality eventually reared its head poking and prodding until I realized that I was missing something.  Though deeply content and abundant to the max on the interior, the interior did not translate to the exterior and I struggled.

The biggest obstacle to teachers and yogis of business is the value towards the interior and the fallacy of contentment.  I believe that the sophistication of modern humanity and the evolution of enlightenment requires that we are fluid, balanced, and whole in both experiences of reality.

The biggest obstacle to waking-up and being truly free is the rejection of the external.  In certain terms, contentment is the problem.  Abundance practices are the problem.  Vision boards and their embedded lineage of magical thinking is the problem.

To be free, to be truly free, the teacher and conscious business person must understand that the internal is different than the external and that both need cultivation and practice.  If your practice focuses solely on internal contentment and abundance to the detriment of the external you are living an illusion.

External practice, by the way, isn’t a physical practice of abundance consciousness – we don’t need more Lakshmi pujas.  External practice is rolling up your sleeves, learning how to engage in business, and pushing yourself hard until you create the life and business you want.

When I say business will save the world, I am serious.  We are at a time in human evolution and development that demands the entirety of the human spiritual experience, which has remained for the most part an internal, subjective experience, to be made equally external.  And yogis, teachers, and conscious business people must begin cultivating the exterior as much as the interior.  We must practice the exterior.  Business must be our yoga.  If we are indeed abundant, content, and free on the inside, than we must also work to cultivate externally expansion.

Business is the new yoga.  We must be successful to be free.


About Kristoffer Nelson

Kris Nelson works to development business, culture, and consciousness. He is a consultant, entrepreneur, and a corporate executive. He is also certified Anusara Teacher and well established meditation teacher. After teaching in Los Angeles for many years, Kris spent several years touring Asian, Europe and the United States teaching Anusara Yoga, meditation, and perspectives on awakening in the modern world. When Kris approached the age of 30 he decided that it was time to get an real job and now assists organizations and businesses in both evolutionary and financial growth. Kris currently resides in Raleigh, NC working his first corporate job in a very long time. You can find Kris on twitter at @toffernelson or on his website


29 Responses to “Broke Teacher III: Take Your Vision Board And Shove It Up Your…”

  1. Yogini5 says:

    Yes, it is important to roll up your sleeves and get down to business.
    And hire a consultant for the marketing.
    They will tell you things about the market that the management of the yoga studio does not want to hear.
    But then, the market opens up.
    Something for everyone. But not to hit up everyone for everything with announcements in-our-faces when the prana is working overtime, right after a great class … it is obvious and manipulative …
    It just makes some yoga students angry at Lakshmi-inspired foolishness (impersonal chain gym I used to go to had more couth in their approach.)
    Private sessions for the well heeled.
    Community classes for the primarily home practitioner, without a whole lot of $$.
    Workshops for the impatient.
    Retreats for the time and money-blessed.
    Market segmentation: It's not just for Corporate America anymore!!

  2. Yogini5 says:

    I forgot to mention a corollary to the "everything for everybody" lack of market segmentation.
    What would it hurt to, upfront, disclose prices of workshops in social media and easily available on websites of a studio or yoga center?
    The loss of neophyte buyers of workshops would be more than made up by the availability of telephone lines at the studio.
    And the studio-going public after a while gets tired of this kind of manipulation.
    The studio has Groupon and Livingsocial and other in-the-know kind of couponing that could differentiate price automatically, and generate volume. No need for secrecy on the list price.

  3. Carol – I disagree about catering to the rich to make more $. it's an outdated model. As a demographic yoga teachers haven't engaged in business acumen enough to know the potentiality of opportunity, social change and revenue.

  4. Yogini5 says:

    Cate – you are right…. times have changed. People with money can be more fickle than the everyday potential student. People with money are also hyper-mobile. The yoga studio would have to be dedicated to mass media/outreach of some sort to hold on to certain hyper-mobile students for a long time, if not forever … The turn-over alone results in some teachers abandoning some studios and going to areas where the average household income is close to $200K, but also creating new popularly-priced lower price points of studios; and new services (a form of advanced intensive that replaces the "teacher training" and does not certify one to teach. Now, the best offshoot of this should be "transfer credits" for the student who has taken this and suddenly WANTS to teach or just be certified).

    Additionally, for the rest of us mass media/outreach (as mentioned above) if done right, is both a cause and effect of trickle down marketing …

  5. Yogini5 says:

    You mention Yogaglo—as someone whose personal history includes living several years in breathtaking Colorado, I think that Yoga Today is also good; they have tiered price points within the yoga video site … and the scenery is great (and I am talking about the landscape, not necessarily just the instructors … lol)

  6. Provocative stuff, Kris. Thanks for challenging us.

    Suggest you put links to all the articles in this series in all of the articles.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  7. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  8. Ryan Hill says:

    I'll be honest, as a "low-income" yoga teacher (under 35k for sure) who has been completely enthralled with both the internal journey (fueled by discussion, inquiry, and resulting from being a teacher) – this article PISSES me OFF!!! 🙂

  9. Sarah says:

    Thanks Ryan! My thoughts exactly.

  10. Siri says:

    Yah brother say it again Ryan.

  11. Jamie says:

    Ryan, remember that the author has a consulting business who is selling his services in the best light possible. Of course he is going to up sell the reality of what he can do for anyone. While this seemed more like a large ad for his services, it doesn't look any more effective then using a vision board. I wouldn't get too pissed off.

  12. Maureen White says:

    Amen Ryan! My thoughts exactly. P.S.- Let's hang out soon

  13. Ryan- I am sincerely happy that you are content in your path. I want to propose a few questions. Since you come from a business background, perhaps you have more money savvy, since you had a more external oriented job, than the majority of internally oriented people do.
    1) If you break your legs right now, how will you support yourself?
    2) Do you have anough money to travel when your friends get married and bring a gift that you feel proud of?
    3)When the day arrives and bodywork is too taxing on your system, and your classes are based on philosophy and chanting, how will you support yourself? Can you pay for your retirement (I know we don't think we will retire, but most likely one day if we live that long, our mobility will be limited)?
    4) Can you tithe money? Do you have money to give to the most worthy cause that touches you, or to give to a relative in need?
    5) What if you need a root canal or another unexpected surgery? Can you easily pay for it?

  14. I have asked myself all of these questions. And my answer to all of them was no.
    But for a long time, I didn't care because I LOVED teaching.
    YET, I did not like worrying about numbers, hustling for students, and acknowledging that I was an entrepreneur and teaching was my business.

    I also had to acknowledge that in the event of a crisis (car accident- serious infection) I would have to rely on those who had more, so ultimately I was not as independent or self-sufficient as I thought I was.

    I'm not suggesting that my conclusions will be yours, but there is a possibility that the novelty of doing something you love will fade a bit and that you may desire growth- financial growth is often a part of that.

  15. Kris-

    Well done.

    I love the external/internal split. I have noticed that in the last couple of years many people living the external have taken the plunge inward and many people living the internal have taken the plinge outward. It seem to be the outside in is a lot more smooth of a ride. The inside-out, of which I am one, is a huge clash of values. On the other hand the disconnected business person is applauded for looking inward because even Oprah recommends it, and society doesn't dictate that they give up their fame or fortune looking inward. As yogis we hinge our belief system on happiness being an entirely internal project and on clinging to that contentment irrespective of life cirucumstance, so we DO have to give up that identity when admiting the importanceo f the external world.

    As we say in Brazil, nota dez- with a thumbs up! A "10"

  16. Don says:

    Another great article Kris!

    Ignoring either the internal or external in your life should be as impossible as ignoring the left side or right side of the road as you drive down it. However, you have people who will ride one side of the road and ignore the other side. These are the ascetics who go live in a cave and the executives who live on the corporate ladder. Another group are the ones who have epiphanies and realize the other side of the road is the side they should have been on and strive to switch. These are the executives who decide to become monks and the yogis or religious types who are tired of being broke and sell themselves out to create mega-studios and mega-churchs.

    There is a third path, which is reconciling the internal and external. Keeping your spirituality and materiality at the same time is a worthy goal. Many people will say that is mutually exclusive and cannot be done. To me, what your articles have been pointing out is that it is possible and represents the next stage of development for all. It takes a brave person to take on breaking a paradigm and you have my support.

  17. Kris Nelson says:

    It's a sad state.

  18. Kris Nelson says:

    Will do, Bob. Thank you.

  19. Kris Nelson says:

    Hi Ryan –

    What does Anusara have to do with anything?

    I would take a harder look, Ryan. By nature of commenting on with the belief that you're standing outside of said culture you are in fact a part of it.

    Are you separate from anything, really?

  20. Then later, after a few more blogs, I recommend, if you're willing, that you put out a general on-going discussion blog on Yoga and Business, in which you link to all the the Yoga and Business blogs on Elephant, both yours and others perhaps, or just yours.

    I envision Elephant becoming as much a place for topical conversations as reading articles. It's already starting to happen big time. Just look at the "Most Commented" box in the column to the left and about six scrolls up.

    I'd like to encourage you and others to experiment with creative ways to generate ongoing conversations on your favorite topics. You're already doing it with your idea of a blogs series. Creating an ongoing discussion blog is just another suggested thing you can try.

    Thanks for being here.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  21. Kris Nelson says:

    KJ –

    I love these inquiry questions. Fantastic.

  22. Yogini5, I don't understand your comment.

  23. Kris Nelson says:

    I love this. I love your honesty.

  24. Kris Nelson says:

    That's yoga: the lettering go of identity and the release of concepts to embrace reality.

  25. Yogini5 says:

    This would be even better if it weren't all about podcasts, streamings and practicing alone 365. I would rather let the yuppies partially subsidize MY community class. I need the social contact. This really is something that could, ideally, be decentralized. Santa Monica (home of Yogaglo studios) is the tip of the vast iceberg.

    And the net effect is pretty much the same as using a DVD, sometimes. No matter what the system, you lose the personal attention in a community class–and even in some regularly-priced classes that get popular and overrun.

    Yet, I'm a fan of low tech, high touch, in vivo experiences

  26. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  27. Kris Nelson says:

    Thank you, Bob.

  28. Shane says:

    You should provide references like this guy Your website seems pretty thin. It might generate more business for you.

  29. Kris Nelson says:

    Shane –

    Thanks for your thoughts. My website doesn’t drive my business and my market isn’t yoga teachers or yoga businesses, which is why I’m happy to give away the practices and perspectives that will produce more successful yoga business people.