Letter To Incoming Students the for July 2015 Yoga Teacher Training
With just under two months until our next yoga teacher training, I’ve been observing, listening and feeling for symbols from the natural world to show me the soul-story of this particular 200-hour yoga teacher program (for January’s, check out Hummingbird As Totem Animal). Yesterday, the story burst forth, from a cocoon, so to speak.
Not yet butterfly, no longer caterpillar, the cocoon represents an interim stage where initiates undergo a period of soul-searching and leave-taking in order to befriend the mysteries of nature and the human psyche. Those who enter into a symbolic relationship with the cocoon are on a wanderer’s journey to transform current identity (the caterpillar) into something radically new and as yet unimagined (the butterfly).
Certain rituals will aid us in our ceremonial leave-taking of old identity in preparation for entering the cocoon of this yoga teacher training month:
- Withdrawal from Society. Just as the yogis 2,000 years ago retreated to forest caves to explore the inner dimensions of self and ask life’s big questions — who am I? why am I here? — those who are called into a cocoon-phase are being asked to leave the known-and-understood world to explore the mysteries, rhythms, and hidden meanings in the natural world. A significant portion of our time together takes advantage of the remoteness of Pavones to find the hidden gifts that emerge from self-exploration.
- Radical Simplification & Eliminating Non-essentials. One of the best ways to prepare for this particular training, or for a cocoon-period in general, is to shed what is no longer necessary, whether this means cleaning out closets, or saying goodbye to a job that no longer feeds your soul. It’s just that simple — but simple doesn’t always mean easy.
- A Border Crossing. Use your travel time to symbolically transition from the world of the known into the world of the unknown. You may want to journal about conversations and sights that surprise you on your way to Pavones. Explore your relationship with the unknown: does newness evoke wonder? Anticipation? Fear? There is no right or wrong answer, we’re simply developing an awareness of what is. If you are not traveling to PYC this July and you feel yourself entering a cocoon-phase in life, cross metaphorical- and psychological-borders by hitting the refresh button on daily habits and hangouts. Visit a new park or coffee shop, or start an unexpected conversation, like one a pilgrim might have on the camino. Befriend the stranger in you.
When one identity is shed, there is new space and a place for mystery and the unknown. This is the inner dimension represented by the cocoon. Those of us who are a part of the July 2015 yoga teacher training are being asked to embody the very essence of yoga: to embrace and trust in that interim place where one thing has been left behind, and another is not yet fully formed. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s powerful. One thing is almost certain: transformation is guaranteed.
Those who wander in the psychic dimensions of the cocoon emerge knowing their ultimate place in the world; they come out with a sense of belonging. This belonging doesn’t come from having a specific job or vocation in the world, but rather from a sort of soul-story that presents itself as an image, an archetype, or a symbol.
Yoga teaching and yoga teacher training is the way I’ve grown into my soul-story that emerged years ago when I lived in Japan. I look forward to July when we can swap cocoon and soul-stories…