March 9, 2012

Lifeboats & Lifevests: Finding Direction Post-Anusara.

As “The Anusara Situation” has unfolded there sure has been a whole heckuva lot of sinking ship imagery.

Around the time I resigned, I started to notice online comments referring to the resigning teachers as “rats scurrying off a sinking ship.” Ouch. I suppose, though—if I hadn’t seen what I had personally seen—that it’s possible that I might have felt the same way about the teachers who were leaving. I might have felt abandoned.

Next, at a Tri-State meeting for Anusara teachers on Wednesday, the teacher who chaired the meeting announced that he planned to be the, “last person off the ship.” Sounds like a noble sentiment.

I believe that, in my own mind, I began to use the sinking ship analogy in the days immediately following my resignation. I was not satisfied by the few communications that came from AY. I was not satisfied to trust grace, or to let go and let god. I guess I tend to be more the type who thinks god helps those who help themselves.

“This boat is sinking!” I fretted. “What about all the people still on it?”

I felt torn. I know I can be bull-headed, so I actively endeavored to be spacious with the decisions my peers made–whether they decided to stay or to go. That seemed the respectful thing to do.

However, sitting in my lifeboat, turning my back and just paddling away felt morally wrong to me. So, I used my voice. I tried to speak as candidly as was both legal and respectful. I’ll confess, the mama bear in me wanted to usher the remaining passengers on board into an enormous lifeboat.

(Hero complex much? I probably watched one too many episodes of Super Friends as a child, and apparently have been ruined for life).

As time passes I’m becoming more clear on something: one big lifeboat is not the answer.

I believe that after a decade as an Anusara teacher, I have spent enough time as a passenger. Creating more passengers is not the solution. My belief is that each aboard the S.S. Anusara is actually not just a passenger, but also a potential captain.

All humans have the capacity to be captain of our own lives. Learning how to delegate is good. Learning how to be a passenger sometimes is good too, as is learning how to be student at least some of the time. It’s when we entirely forget the captain within that problems arise.

In the decade I spent as a passenger, and student, of Anusara yoga, I received many wonderful benefits. I also believe that I forgot my own abilities as a captain. I forgot I had my own life vest.

I think I might just be starting to remember.

Listen, the very last thing I’m suggesting is that we abandon community. For most of my life, I honestly believed I was a semi-misanthropic loner. My yoga practice has slowly made the concept of community real for me, thank god.

However, now is also a very appropriate time for us to individually step into the source of our own power and authority. It’s not one enormous lifeboat that is needed. What is called for, in my opinion, is a clearer understanding that the entire time we were on the boat each of us has had an invisible life vest. Whether or not we remember we have a life vest stashed away in our luggage–let alone how to put it on and buckle it up–is a whole other story.

Now is the time for members of this community to be initiating local conversations about what the future might look like. I propose that there is more benefit in buckling up our own life vests, than in waiting for a lifeboat that may or may not be coming. I propose that there is more benefit in initiating our own conversations than in waiting to be included in anybody else’s conversations.

The thing about this ship is that no one aboard it needs to be saved.

We might just need a life vest tutorial.



Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

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