NON - VIOLENCE
When I was a child I had a very toxic and abusive violin teacher. A bit like what you can see in the Whiplash - a great movie by Damien Chazelle - but in a female and more sophisticated version. It lasted around 10 years, till one day I just dropped my violin onto the floor when my teacher shouted at me (again), and this time I was not able to take it. She was pregnant, just before the due date, carrying inside an innocent baby, and yet she just screamed at me with anger, aggressively pointing out how pathetic I was, and how I disappointed her. As if I did something really wrong.
Well, today I see that actually all I was just trying to do was to train my little hands to move extremely fast and with a great precision to play difficult passages of notes, written by some adult genius from the 17th century, on sharp metal strings that - by the way - wounded my fingers a lot. Is it something that bad? Is it something to be ashamed of? Punished for? Well, the answer is no, absolutely not! Any violence is wrong, and it is high time to speak it up!
As a highly sensitive child I thought it was all my fault - I was not good enough, I should have tried harder… Having always a bruise underneath my chin from playing for hours, feeling sick in my stomach from stress and guilt, I was really upset that I was doing something wrong. Again and again.
It took me years and a great psychotherapist to heal, and to realise - once and for good - that nobody has the right to abuse us. Nobody and never. Period.
Education should be a zone free from violence. So is the real Yoga!
IS WRONG AND IT'S
TO SPEAK IT UP
IN ORDER TO
NEED A CONSTRUCTIVE CRITI
Communication is my second principle - both at work, and in my private life.
I feel I became a teacher mostly to offer to my students what I missed being a student myself. Born in 80’s in Poland - the satellite country of the Soviet Union - I experienced pretty poor standards of teaching methodology and communication. My teachers often were burned out and tired, without much passion, and without much patience. I still remember phrases that should have never been said to any child or a teenager. Words hurt, and leave thick scars. Words can also heal and nourish.
I don’t believe a good teacher should just please us with words, and say how amazing we are all the time - in order to grow we need a constructive criticism, an honest feedback, instructions what to improve. But at the same time any feedback should be always delivered in a proper way - with respect, with peace, with calmness and as a dialog.
Communication has to be kind and loving, with a pure and clear intention to meet another being.
Growing up I quickly realised that communication in general tends to be a bit ‘tricky’. Facing many conflicts - at school, at work, in a private life - I started paying attention, and studying communication on a deeper level. Theatre was a great opportunity.
Communication is a true art - both verbal and non-verbal. Everything communicates, whether consciously or not. The most essential is communication with our own body & mind, then communication to others: communication to our beloved ones and to our professional contacts.
As yoga teachers we communicate - non verbally, verbally, and we listen. We share some message, and we receive many. Communication is a field we need to really take care of to protect ourselves, to take care of others, to be effective and to avoid conflicts and frustration.
It is all present in my courses and workshops today, and the good news is - there is so much to learn and improve! Different projects handle different aspects of this topic which is as wide and as deep as an ocean…
One of the most shocking and meaningful experiences I have ever had was the cooperation with people with schizophrenia.
Before that, I was already familiar with neurodiversity of people - NEURODIVERSE is a term I really like.
“Neurotypical” is a newer term that's used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities. Individuals who live, for example, with autism, are on the spectrum, or who have other developmental differences are referred to as “neurodiverse.”
So, before studying schizophrenia I worked already with people with Down Syndrome, autism, and other “labels”, but only working so closely with people with schizophrenia has really changed my life. I was 20, maybe 21.
I studied theatre, and I believed that theatre (and art in general) can be this special space where we all are equal.
Studying in theatre academy myself I was sick of academic art and conservative, ‘exclusive’ forms of expression for ‘elite’. During my second year I joined a few theatres that were socially oriented, and I learnt to work with those who were mostly “excluded” from our society - people with mental disabilities, diseases, as well as seniors and underprivileged youths. In 2002 I met Opera Buffa - a theatre group of people with schizophrenia which I got really fascinated with. One day, when I was going for their rehearsal (I was writing a thesis about their ‘Hamlet’) I met 3 actors, who got lost in the building. We joined our forces and walked together, but we were totally lost, and just couldn’t find the right place. People with schizophrenia may look and behave a bit “differently” sometimes. One of my companions looked actually like Vladimir Lenin, and conscious of this fact was always introducing himself as this soviet dead leader (I never came to know if it was a joke or his ‘schizophrenic’ identity), another one was speaking to us using only poems and rhymes, and the third one was sharing the story about her traumatic visit of Mother Mary last night, who was angry and came to punish her for something she did to her daughter. Despite the fact that these people behave a bit “odd” I really had a nice walk and talk with them all, they were - as always - full of respect for me, smiling and showing their big interest in my studies, my day, my opinions…We had a good time. Walking for several minutes like that through the labyrinth of the building, all of a sudden we met a bodyguard. We asked him where to find the room with a theatre rehearsal, and he looked at us totally shocked and scared. He was not able to hide his fear, but also - his contempt. Our question was clear and simple. We were polite and nice. Our conversation was ‘normal’. But as we looked differently, like a group of crazy people (yes, even me, I guess), we didn’t get an easy answer. We were judged, despised and labeled. At that time, in his fearful and critical eyes I understood how difficult the life of my companions can be everyday… I can just imagine how each time they have to have any interaction, meeting or exchange - they always are removed how “different” they are, and how they generate the fear in others.
That was this moment when I saw the full and extreme version of a social and cultural injustice. It felt sad, wrong, disturbing.
I spent a few years with my new colleagues from Opera Buffa, even though it was not always the easiest experience for me. Schizophrenia is a heavy disorder, full of negative vibes, dark energy and fears. As a highly sensitive person I absorbed this negativity too often, but I learnt a lot. People I met there taught me forever not to label anyone, not to judge and not to contempt. Each of them was an amazing person - full of ideas, imagination, talents, stories to share… just like each of us. Inclusion is one of my biggest principle - in life, in art, and in yoga.
INCLUSION IS ONE OF MY BIGGEST PRINCIPLE - IN LIFE,
IN ART AND
VERY FIRST RIGHT
ALL OF US
It is sad to be forced to write such obvious things in the 21st century, yet it is necessary. Equality, based on respect and non-discrimination, should be the very first right for all of us. But, the reality shows it is still far away from perfection. It still requires a lot of effort, education, petitions, protests. Living in India for 10 years showed me, more than anywhere else, how wrongly organised can be a social system. How a cast, material status, gender, geographic location, connections/ lack of connections lead to discrimination and extreme inequality, and create the sad world of social and moral injustice. Discrimination twists democracy into some ridiculous and a cruel game of power and accessibility.
I experienced discrimination myself - as a woman (even though ‘white’ and pretty privileged in this context, however from a poor Polish family), as a Polish citizen (facing pretty ugly stereotypical jokes and assumptions), and as a wife of an Indian man. Sometimes discrimination works on a very subtle level, and it is rooted deeper than we understand. The point here is - as a modern society, conscious yogis, and human beings -
we need to stand for equality in our families, in our yoga schools, at our work, and in every place we are! We need to speak up, educate, point out, improve.
I love my space. I love being alone. As a highly sensitive person I actually need it pretty often to stay balanced, and help my nervous system to recover and work well. But I also have no doubt - whether we are introverts, highly sensitive persons, or yogis - we all need connection. We need each other, we need to communicate, share, exchange. We need hugs, love, empathy, understanding, discussions, cooperation.
We need to give and receive.
I am not a big fan of mass events, communes, or any strong belongings.
I would never be able to commit to any political party, religious group, sect or some extreme ‘loyalty’ to any organisation. But I do believe in community as a highly important value for each of us. For years I’ve been co-creating Trimurti Yoga community that expanded beyond my expectations. People from different countries, with different cultural backgrounds, professions, age, and actually pretty diverse opinions managed to build a safe and non-judgmental environment that can support everyone in their personal growth. A good community is inclusive, connected by common values without a big effort, without any need of a rigid discipline, without any artificial process.
Yoga community that I offer you to join today is based on this principles, and your voice matters!
EVERY PERSON IS A UNIVERSE
In order to grow we need to expand. Tin order to learn we need to embrace “new”. Travelling all over the world widened my horizons in a way I cannot even express. Every person is a universe. Every place has different energy. Every experience is a lesson. We learn from literally everyone. I am in love with diversity of people, places, cultures, stories…
It is not always “easy” or “comfortable” to see things from a different perspective or leave our comfort zone. But it is always meaningful and beneficial. Diversity is one of the most important value for my yoga practice, my personal life, my inner growth.
In yoga I am eclectic - studying Eastern traditions and Western science, mixing styles, playing with energies. In teaching I use various tools and teaching methodologies, cause I know how diverse my students are.
At my projects I need to work with various people too - the power of a diverse team is priceless to me.
Just like the world is made of different elements, we all are diverse. Honouring this diversity, and learning from it - is my biggest joy, privilege and compass in life.
Om, shanti, shanti, shanti…