In response to the ever-growing number of reports of sexual misconduct and abuse in the yoga world, a number of North American practitioners and teachers have started what they are calling a “post-lineage” movement. While I can understand wanting to have nothing to do with teachers who have abused their students, I believe it’s important to recognize that without lineage, we lose the connection to the source of the teachings. A connection to a real lineage (one that is older than a single generation) offers us a foundation on which we can develop an approach that is rooted in the wisdom of the ancient tradition but alive and responsive to our modern needs.
We’re suffering from a deficiency of intimacy in our culture. The internet and social media gives us a false sense of connection, but it’s superficial and doesn’t offer the nourishment of real, human intimacy. It’s like junk food for the soul. You’re hungry for real connection, and so you grab something that’s quick and easy, but it leaves you feeling dissatisfied at best, and often worse than before.
The practice of mindfulness — observing our thoughts, emotions and behaviours — is a useful exercise. It allows us to become more aware of our physical, emotional and mental conditioning and patterns, and demonstrates that they are always changing, and in that, reveals the opportunity for change. This revelation gives us hope that there’s a way out of our suffering, but mindfulness alone won’t get us there.
As a teacher, it's a real gift when you find a student who is sincere and dedicated in their practice and inquiry into yoga. A student who comes with a balance of openness and curiosity draws out the embodied understanding of yoga through their questions and the challenges they present, which helps me, as a teacher, integrate those teachings and develop my own way of communicating them effectively. My friend Nelson is a student like this, and he has written a beautiful personal account of our work together. I'm honoured and humbled by his testimony.
Dr. Gabor Maté, a renowned expert on trauma and addiction believes that at the root of addiction is a fundamental disconnection from one’s true self.
This split can happen because of any number of factors including childhood trauma, or familial or societal pressure to conform to a way of being that isn’t in alignment with one’s own true nature. This was certainly the case for me.