Tag Archive: Anusara

John Friend on “The Art of Feedback”

I recently had a project that I did in connection with an organization of which I am a member.  The ultimate goal of the project was for me to transmit to another group a report of decisions made by the organization of which I am a member.  When I emailed my report, I “cc’d” my organization’s list serve.  In response, there were a few heated postings on the list serve about the subject matter, even though I had sent a “cc” of a final report, not a request for new input.  These postings in turn generated a number of emails both sent to me personally and postings on the list serve as a whole.  The “secondary” emails were as much about how we were responding and communicating on the list serve, as they were about the subject matter itself.

It was hard for me to soften and to listen without defensiveness the emails that were well-intentioned, but stated strong opinions that could have been interpreted as suggesting the report was wrong or inadequate.  As I made an effort to finish my project from a place of service, which in my mind included appropriately addressing the after-the-fact postings and emails, I was deeply grateful for the teaching John Friend had offered last year to the Anusara yoga community on “The Art of Feedback.” It is an inspired teaching and one that applies with equal force to the situation I was in this week.

For me, this is a deeply challenging area based on my personal history, but I work to grow.  What are your challenges in receiving and giving feedback?  How might shifts in how you receive and offer your opinions enhance your relationships and your goals for living and society?

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Yoga for Householders

Paul Muller-Ortega, who teaches philosophy and meditation from similar roots to those that inform Anusara yoga, spoke yesterday of the differences between the path of the renunciate and the path of the householder.  He strongly stated that neither path was better.  What he suggested, though, was that a householder will better flourish practicing yoga designed for the householder rather than attempting to practice renunciate techniques, while still staying in the householder path.

What does this mean?  I think it means that we become unhappy and conflicted if we try attempt the practices of the path of complete non-attachment and transcendence of body and mind while we are still very much staying in society and responsible for family, work, and citizenship.  The tantric, householder path, including that of the Shaivite tradition of Kashmir and Abhinavagupta, offers practices that enable one to live liberated in society, instead of suggesting that the only way to true liberation is to reject and transcend work, family, and community.  In yoga terms, the householder path is one that realizes moksha (liberation), through ardha (physical and material well-being), kama (love/relationship), and dharma (right work/path) rather than by transcending them.

Taking the householder path does not mean just indulging.  It still requires sensitivity, dedication, discrimination, and alignment.  I think it may be even harder than renunciation.  I know it is easier for me to just stay alone and practice, for example, than to bring yoga off my mat to how I work, consume, relate to others, and participate in society.  The householder path, though, is the one for me.

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