Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Flower cannot be Photographed.

…and perhaps experience cannot be accurately shared.

I did some more yoga honoring rituals today. None of the pictures I took come close to showing the flowers I used. The actual flowers have petals that are like delicious glowing midnight in the country—edging toward a very sensual purple, not that blue you see in the picture I shared. And as you can see, the flower opens to reveal a yellow center. They remind me of those nestling sun-moon sculptures that I saw so many of in Mexico.

A much-honored teacher in my life came to a class I taught (I had invited him), and it was his birthday—that’s a double-whammy call for somethin’ special. So of course I read some poetry! It doesn’t require a special occasion to do that. But, it also included flowers and special words, similar to what I did last Friday.

I have heard from students that they appreciate it, but also know that I get so much out of doing it, too. I could almost imagine myself becoming some kind of spiritual oddity offering flowers at the feet of everyone I meet. So today, instead of just doing the ritual for the class that had my most influential teacher present, I did it for everybody I taught today. And I told them why.

What I have learned from Gabriel actively influences my teaching, so my students are getting benefit from Gabriel’s teaching as it moves through me. So it made sense to honor ourselves in honor of Gabriel, today.

One of the poems I read today is I Have Such a Teacher, by Rumi (one of Gabriel’s favorite poets), translated by Coleman Barks. Here it is:
Last night my teacher taught me the lesson of poverty,
Having nothing and wanting nothing.

I am a naked man (*Brooks’ Note: sometimes I read aloud “woman” here) standing inside a mine of rubies,
clothed in red silk.
I absorb the shining and now I see the ocean,
billions of simultaneous motions
moving in me.
A circle of lovely, quiet people
becomes the ring on my finger.

Then the wind and thunder of rain on the way.
I have such a teacher.

When the well-rested students came out of savasana, they noticed a flower at the foot of their mats. I explained that the flower is symbolic, and that I liked that these flowers had so many petals. I asked everyone to remember all the helpful teachers in their lives, the people who had blessed them along the way. These people can be imagined as some of the petals on the flower. And then I acknowledged the teachers who taught through difficulty or disappointment. These people also are represented by some of the petals. All of these people come together in our experience to form the beauty of who we are, so these flowers truly are intended to honor all of our teachers.

I did this in honor of one of my highly-regarded teachers, today. Thanks, Gabriel!


Anahita said...

What a beautiful idea l :) I've always believed that teachers (of yoga or otherwise) in our lives hold a very dear and unique place in our hearts. I know I'm going to miss my yoga teacher when I move...but I also know that, like you, I'm going to be taking many of her teachings with me. P.S. Yay for the poetry! And esp. for rumi ;)

Unknown said...

that's sweet

Anonymous said...

What a lovely idea, and a way to share more of what's in your heart as a teacher. Showing no difference, no distance, between yoga teacher and student, I think, is the way to go. :)

And I am sure your teacher appreciated this honouring.

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous ritual, Brooks. You are an inspiration. :)

Unknown said...

what a beautiful gesture! I'm falling in love with gardening and creating my own blossoms so the flower is one of my most treasured items.

great post! and yay rumi!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Brooks for the beautiful class yesterday. The poetry was so moving. The Rumi that you read at the beginning of class brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your honoring of Gabriel. We are built and we are building. Our teachers guide, we do the hammering, so to speak.

The flower is still on my desk today -- reminding me of those who have taught me, continue to teach me and all the growing there is to do.