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Our True Presence

organ movingI am just back from Denmark where I taught a week-long training on Yoga and the Organs. I’d never taught this before in this much depth and I was a bit nervous about getting across all that I felt in my own body. In addition I am quite pregnant and having this beautiful life in me has put a bit of a spin on my teaching. I know my body pretty well but the body I have today is very different than the one I have been working with for all these years. The process of continuous movement has helped me to integrate all this newness – but it takes time and it seems always to be changing.  To prepare for this training, I went back to read something I had written about being a teacher a few years back and I thought I would share it once again because it rings even more true to me today.

All of my gratitude rests with my teacher Bonnie Bainbridge. This wisp of a woman has changed my life in so many ways. When people ask me why I love Bonnie so, what in particular is special about her teaching, I have no need to think: yes, she has taught me things about the body and movement that I could never have dreamt; yes, she has filled my mind with anatomy and philosophy and so much more; but beyond this, the teaching she has offered and that I had not gotten from any other was… how to “be”. Nothing exists without presence. Yes, you can meet a person or go to a place, but the level of presence you hold within that space relates directly to the depth of your “knowing”.

I remember an occasion at one of Bonnie’s workshop in Massachusetts, when the classes were small and intimate, and we felt like a little family. The days were filled with rolling around and bouncing on balls and moving like starfish. Within all of that we mostly hung on her words, and sat eager for her touch. On this one day she held my hand. It may sound crazy, but it felt as if the eternal mother was holding me. She never even said a word. We simply shared space. She taught me everything possible in that single moment. If I never saw her again, it wouldn’t matter, because it was left to me to cultivate in myself that which she so generously offered.

In this we are all teachers — and students. Whenever we bring with us our true presence, we are both open to receive and grow as well as offer ourselves up. My learning from Bonnie was never about how many notebooks I could fill with her words… She gave me my life’s lesson with a simple touch.

I wished to impart this to my students in Denmark. They asked many wonderful questions and I hope I answered them to some level of satisfaction. In the end what made me feel like I made some difference in their embodiment was how each of these sweet souls opened their bodies and hearts in the morning free movement. It went from slow and a bit awkward when we first began to the most loving expression of beauty toward themselves and each other by the time I left. By the last day, I was certain I had helped open the door to their presence.