Monday, June 27, 2011

Stepping into Studentship

I think they have always been there. I have to believe we step into studentship when we are ready, to do so pre-maturely makes it impossible to recognize the gift of true mentors, of true teachers. Max has awakened me to the myriad of masters in my near surrounding and the teachers in my everyday.

The everyday teacher is in the woman who is rude to you at the tire store, or the woman at the Hilo Farmer's Market who asks very loudly "How'd your baby die?" and when you pause with a look like she just stung you with a taser gun in the side of the head... and instead of her realizing that the question might be insensitive she then asks it again but this time twice as loud "How'd your baby die". As a student to life's mysteries as tempting as it is to teach her a lesson in manners, or sheer crumble by hiding in your car and telling all of your friends to never buy kale from her so that we have stake in attempting to destroy her livelihood, we are invited into studentship at that moment. Pause. Let's be honest. Revenge might feel good for a few days, years, lifetimes. If we take a good look at our habits, revenge can sometimes be sneaky and slide in behind our motivation, anger, shame, or fear. So be on the look out for your old habits of retaliation.  Don't get me wrong, people can be fucking ruthless and insatiable in their own agendas. BUT Max is inviting us to be awake enough to be able to approach these moments with "these people" as great teachings.

What we are up against Wonder Warriors is not the world, but the temptation to feel entitled in it. Max is asking me to be bigger than to fall victim to this current situation of him not staying in his form. I have to watch responses like "please give me a break or please be gentle with me... We just lost our baby". Sometimes that may be totally appropriate. But here is the teaching, loss is our common thread. Now that I have been shaken awake by the loss of my baby we must walk through the world and tend to our interactions knowing that everyone is experiencing or will experience incredible loss of loved ones.

We must be gentle with each other. The more intense the interaction,  the more gentle we are being asked to be. Max has widened our spectrum of compassion and he is asking us to truly hold every person we meet with the tenderness of a mother who just lost her child. We don't just get to be nice to nice people. We don't just get to respond to the callousness with lethargy. We don't just get to respond to the cruelty with retribution.

Then there are the Masters Max has given me. These are the people who have honed their skills so sharp that what they offer keeps me on that razor's edge of the grief of loosing my son and the realization of birthing my heart teacher. These offerings are the radical ones. The ones that keep me out of my head and in my heart. Like this one, "lucky are the ones who are blessed with a wound that only god can heal." Holy Hell if this is true, then what a gift Max gave. Not only did Max give me eight days to recognize my beloved and our love eternal, he actually swapped our physical relationship with a spiritual commitment so deep it is connected by the umbilicus.  The nourishment needed to heal this wound is fed only by that connection and source from which he came.   In all of this insanity there is gratitude.

I am deeply grateful to have you walking that edge with me.
Let Love In
Heather Bear

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"The Return Home" a transcript of my first night teaching at Balancing Monkey

I stepped back into teaching at Balancing Monkey two Thursdays ago. Christina Sell wrote me on April 12 asking if her and her husband Kelly should still come offer the Anusara Yoga Workshop we had scheduled before Max's birth. Here was my return letter:

"My initial response was to move in the direction of re-scheduling you and Kelly in Hilo because it is such an intense and difficult time not only for me but also for the Monkeys. But this is exactly the reason why you have to come. I am certain we have connected Christina because of our deep commitment to walk further into the fire. Nothing about Max is easy. Nothing about Max makes sense. Everything about Max is the radical experience of loving and just how uncertain that journey is, but we do it anyway... I want to step back into Balancing Monkey with you and will plan to return to Hilo right around the same time.  I don't think anything about your planning on being in Hilo in June was hap-hazard. I am certain Max has been working on all these heart connections for a very very long time. See you in June Love Heather"

So it is I walked right into that fire and had Christina observe my first class back to move in the direction of becoming certified to teach Anusara Yoga.  No small task, but huge is the new small these days. Below is the transcript of the first fifteen minutes of my class.

The Journey Home, June 2, 2011. 
It is very clear to me that the mission of Balancing Monkey is to facilitate a practice that sharpens our physical and spiritual weaponry so that when life does present its battles, when shit does hit the fan our arsenals have been well prepared. I am also very committed to Balancing Monkey being a place of sanctuary, connection, and community in your life. Max has certainly taught me that we need each other. He is so happy to be with us and to have us all together in his home studio, so thank you for being here.

My story of the last nine weeks is not unique, even in all of its intensity. Max is teaching me so much, a really big teaching for me is that our pain is not quantifiable. We all have a Max story.  So I sit with you not as your teacher, but as a mom, as a sister, as a daughter and as a student of life's mysteries.  The Journey Home has nothing to do with going anywhere and everything to do with moving deeper into our own hearts. This Journey Home is a Hero's Journey and you my Monkeys, my family, my friends are being asked to make the journey with me. It is very clear to me that the reason Max chose me is because I know you. He knew that you would do the work, the work of the heart.  This work isn't complicated, but it is not easy. It is a constant practice of surrender.

What separates heroes from pedestrians is not the challenges of heartache, incredible loss, sadness, and deep pain. The difference is that heroes stay open to the possibility that within the affliction there is a greater truth. Heroes brave to ask deeper questions.  The real work is to stay open to our pain.  The quest is to move in the direction of our pain with both curiosity and courage. What we find when life forces us to hang off that ledge if even by our fingernails and we finally let go of thinking that we can control or avoid the despair... instead of falling to our own death, grace opens her wings and cradles us. Not only does she swoop, but she plunges, nosedives and darts to hold us in her feathers. Grace is always present. Life cycles are her way of reminding us of the precious gift. 

Grace is always present, whether we realize it our not. We are never without support in the light of illumination. This is in the opening Anusara Invocation Nispranpachya Shantaya Niralambaya Tejase.  

Grace is rooting for us.  There is nothing esoteric about this.  I am speaking to you now from not the teachings, but my experience of Max.  Grace wants us to be the Hero of our life.  Grace wants us to be a champion of our pain, all we have to do is open.  Grace is inviting us to bring light to our suffering by taking what might cause us to collapse, dim or completely shut down and use it as fuel for our own fire. This is that light of illumination. To shine brightly takes work my friends.

Opening to Grace is a practice receptivity but in my experience isn't gentle at all.  We sometimes have to rip open to grace, drag our heals, kick the walls and pound our fists on the floor as we open.  It's really frickin' messy and there is nothing gentle about it.   Being truly receptive is a bold vulnerability.  It takes practice. So let's do it.  Bring you hands together in front of your heart. Bow your head and close your eyes.