March 8, 2012

Moments I Might have Spoken up—but Didn’t.

Ever keep quiet when you shouldn’t have?

Yesterday I got my morning class covered (Thank you, Laura Young!) and took the train from CT to Grand Central Station, to attend a Tri-State meeting for Anusara teachers. As a new member of the unlicensed tribe, I was slightly nervous that my presence might be resented. Instead, I gratefully received a very warm welcome.

I don’t have much to say about the meeting itself. The plans of the folks who want to resuscitate Anusara are admirably ambitious. Those plans include commendable goals like going non-profit, and holding elections. I wish my licensed Anusara brothers and sisters the very best luck, and every success, in their endeavors.

At the very end of the meeting, the last question asked was addressed to me:

“Bernadette, if what’s been discussed here today is implemented, will you–and other licensed teachers–come back?”

I’ll only speak for myself, here, but any decision whatsoever, based upon a conversation about an action that one man has yet to take, doesn’t sit comfortably with me. The commendable plans I heard outlined yesterday can only move forward if John Friend actually signs over the trademark to the teachers. In my estimation, John continues to hold all the power. Based on his actions thus far, I don’t believe that John will actually relinquish the trademark. There’s not a good track record between actions and words thus far.

I will always hold the Anusara community in my heart. I have no intention of dropping off the face of the planet, which is why I trekked into Manhattan yesterday. I also see this unexpected change as one that holds major mojo in the creative, evolutionary department. I’ve already written about that a bit.

As my buddy Susanna Harwood Rubin pointed out at lunch after the meeting, “There’s no going back“—hopefully not for anyone! Let’s all examine what has happened in a productive way, learn from it, heal it and move forward into more authentic self-empowerment.

To that end, I would like to look at the ways in which I have been complicit in conferring my own authority upon John Friend, and Anusara Yoga. I’m not crucifying myself here, or indulging in self-flagellation here. Please don’t feel like you need to write to make me feel better, okay? Reflecting upon what my personal responsibility in perpetuating an imbalanced and unhealthy power paradigm is good stuff. It’s healthy and empowering. In that spirit, I offer the list below.

Moments When I Might Have Opened My Mouth and Questioned but Did Not:

  1. At a Certified Teacher’s Gathering in North Carolina a few years ago when John told us we should refrain from leaving to use the bathroom during his lecture, and described the way he would sit at the feet of his guru until dismissed–no matter how uncomfortable his full bladder was.
  2. When sternly instructed a couple of years ago to retract a Navaratri post on my blog that contained a very minor deviation from the newly laid out “Shiva-Shakti Tantra.”
  3. When in the midst of the very grueling certification process I was told that my video had “passed”, and I would be certified, I was told that I would have to make another video and that it was “just a lila.
  4. At a Certified Teacher’s Gathering in Denver, when we given a one page handout on Tattvas and instructed, “Go home and teach this in your Immersions.”
  5. When asked by an AY employee to positively respond to online comments critical in nature of John Friend and Anusara Yoga.
  6. When asked by that same employee to keep an eye out for, and report, social media movement that was unsympathetic in nature to Anusara.
  7. When a student who was very, very injured during a demo in one of John’s workshops felt unsupported by his teachers, who had a tough time acknowledging that John had made a mistake; I should have been more vocal.

I wish so many people’s lives hadn’t been disrupted in order for me to learn about my tendencies to give away my power. I believe that learning this lesson well is perhaps one of the best ways to honor their experience, and my own.

 Have you ever kept silent when speaking up might have been the better choice? If so, how can you use your experience to inspire you to invest in your own authority? Talk to me! Share your story in a comment below.


Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

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