I define myself as a yogi. It informs how I am in this world. How do I act, react? Where is my integrity in any given exchange. Any pursuit. I’m looking for peace, right? I want to dwell in the practice of stillness, equanimity and unconditional compassion for all beings.
However, a shock wave runs through me once I realize that as owner of a yoga center, a boss, the director of teacher training programs, I do in fact, have “people”. A slight cringe creeps over my face as I instruct students to contact my General Manager, my Press Officer, my Personal Assistant, my Shop Manager.
Yes, these “people” make my phone calls, appointments, pay bills, handle details that take time I no longer have. Not if I want to maintain integrity of my daily teaching, my commitment to programs at Brahmani Yoga.
Not exactly the meditating cave dweller, I think as Sean, the Shop Manager ensures my thermos is filled with fresh coffee in the morning. If we weren’t in India, would I send him out to Starbucks?
From a certain perspective it all makes sense. It is important for me, as a teacher, to give away knowledge gained through my own practice and my teachers. Share, teach and expand that experience. Owning a yoga center with staff who trained to carry on that knowledge is logical.
Yet, awareness of everything this venture would entail, the risks, decisions, mistakes and frustrations were never apparent from the beginning.
I have to earn money to pay bills that involve other peoples lively hood each season in Goa. Over the last 7 years, panic, stress, demands, unforeseen drama involving people or nature itself come knocking on my front door at regular intervals.
Finding the balance? I get angry, frustrated and demanding just like anyone else running a business. I want to be compassionate, generous and giving of every spare moment I have, but I learned, it can be a recipe for serious illness.
I don’t always make the right decisions and yet as a yogi, a senior teacher I know many eyes watch me, judge me, expect me to be “all knowing”. Get it right.
I am often torn between the need to run away and teach in a small shack on my own and the desire to expand my efforts to more people, create programs, give back to communities, involve the underprivileged, share the inspiration.
The yogi in me says give it all away for free. The general manager says we have to pay the accountant and the taxes.
Slowly, I find balance in the practice itself, becoming clearer a little more each year.
I am reminded of Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna tells Arjuna he needs to fight, regardless of his aversion to go into battle with his cousins. This is the great metaphor, the battle of the mind always exists. The dialogue of should’s and shouldn’ts, good, bad, right wrong. We live in this world and what needs to be done, still needs to be done. We have to surrender to the process.
My need is to teach. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Everything that allows me to continue this wonderful vocation, good, bad or ugly is part of my process that still needs to be experienced.
The reconciliation is in maintaining integrity and certain rules about running my business that mean it may not make a huge profit. The results of the classes, the training programs and workshops are happy informed students, who may go out and share with others. Cast the net wider.
Do we inspire? Do we have enough to pay the bills? Then we have succeeded. Perhaps not everyone’s definition of success, but for me, in this moment, it works.
A while ago I wrote a lengthy email to my personal assistant with a list of tasks to complete, time limits, phone calls to be made, flights to be booked, international workshops to advertise. At the end of the email, noticing my abrupt tone I added “Sorry to be so: ‘the Devil Wears Prada”.
Her reply was: “More like the Devil Wears Prana”
And she does. And a grubby pair of flip flops most days.