Teaching Hridaya Yoga
Teaching Hridaya, I am also a student of every moment. Douglas Harding once said “its total presence was my total absence,” and I am reminded of this constantly while teaching. It seems very clear to me that the presence, or grace, that flows through the classes is the real teacher, and in the absence of the controlling mind, all those who are present are united as students. Teaching Hridaya in both Guatemala and Mexico has been a beautiful journey into the heart, a journey that shows no signs of coming to an end.
I applied for the 2012 Hridaya Teacher Training Course with no strong intention to teach afterward. I saw it as a beautiful opportunity to dedicate three solid months to my own practice and to dive more deeply into the understanding of Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual perspective. It has been two years now since graduating from the HTTC, and in this time I have consistently been teaching Hridaya. It seems that in love and surrender, all plans and expectations are superseded…
Throughout the HTTC, the teachings and insights that were imparted to us brought such beauty and bliss, and it is with love that they are imparted again and again to others. That seems to be the thing about love – it wants to be shared. And the love that I received during the TTC in the form of teachings and stillness just had to be allowed to flow on through me. One of the greatest gifts I have found in teaching is watching as the students open to the same realizations and understandings that also enlightened my life; such incredible gratitude flows as the students come to speak to me after class or write letters during retreats, or even email months later to share in their bliss and the beautiful changes they are experiencing in their lives.
The line that seems to be repeated after classes is, “oh, I finally understand what yoga is now.” And I feel this is one of the most magical elements of teaching Hridaya – introducing the fundamental elements of Hridaya every morning before we proceed with meditation and Hatha Yoga, there is an undeniable recognition in the truth of non-duality, a little spark lit in the heart of each listener. The awareness is awakened to explore beyond just the body and the mind, and the collective stillness cultivated is something so refreshing, so freeing, so supportive, that the students often don’t move from their mats for some time after the class is over. It is such a blessing to watch and hold space for this awakening.
Through teaching every day, of course my own practice also deepens. My understanding of the teaching Hridaya Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, and Ramana Maharshi, in particular, have had the opportunity to flourish, and I feel endless gratitude to be a vessel for such teachings. To convey the words and essence of the masters has required an active surrender – a constant availability to Self, or rather, a getting out of my own way. With surrender comes a great trust that whatever needs to be imparted for the individuals who have been drawn to the class or retreat, will be, without a doubt, and it is not for my mind to mediate what is necessary for another. Sometimes there is even surprise at the direction a lecture or Hatha class can take, but I know that as each moment unfolds, it is exactly as it needs to be.
It occurred to me early on in teaching that it is not the words that are said that carry the meaning, but the presence behind them. And just being present for the students, just Being, seems to be the greatest teaching; offering with honesty an example of living with an open heart, living surrender, allows the teachings to really live and go beyond any boundaries of student or teacher.
Spontaneity and laughter, love and support blossom as each class unfolds in a new way from the last, allowing rather than controlling, all seems to just flow. Allowing stillness, and not being afraid of sitting in silence in front of the class has also been beautiful for me – stillness continues as always to teach from within.
Guiding several five-day silent retreats has been particularly beautiful. The tears, the devotion, the perseverance of the students has been a beautiful mirror, and reflected the teachings back to me again and again. Even reading the same poems, the same passages of the masters several times during the retreats, has brought new depths of understandings, new realizations as the divine plays this wondrous game through us.
It has been over two years now since I was packing my backpack to head to the HTTC in Mazunte, and I cannot imagine doing anything else now but this. Teaching has not just enriched my life, it has become my life, every moment there is an opportunity to offer something to others, and to learn in return; to be an eternal student myself of the Heart.
Thank you so much to all of the Hridaya teachers for carrying this gift and giving all of your hearts to enlighten this tremor in others. We are so blessed to give, as are those who are ready to receive. May we each go forth with love, as neither student nor teacher, but as examples of active surrender and continue to allow these teachings to flow forth.
by Emma Carruthers