I’m still reviewing the Cope Yoga book, and remembering now how substantive this book could be since Stephen Cope was a practicing psychotherapist applying the Yoga Sutra principles to his working-group associations. Lots to ponder here. Very deep read.
But as I review the book, I think one of the most prevalent thoughts for me personally is that not only is there great value in contemplative thought itself, but there is also great value in having a more ‘learned mentor’ to guide that thought in previously unexplored directions; which is likely why many ashrams and retreat centers have a resident ‘guru’ as ‘living example of higher spiritual attainment’ and to be a ‘new-thought steerer’ in general—as exploring ‘new thoughts’ breaks old set patterns of thinking and interrupts undesirable behaviors.
I think this was part of the appeal of Eastern philosophies when they first became so popular—they were SO different from the known Western set—far deeper in psychological approach and human behavior understanding.
However, not all of us have that luxury to have a personal guru as a reflective surface allowing us to gently witness our own hidden cracks and imperfections without judgment or condemnation—a guide who can steer us in an unexpected direction that provides us the greatest learning potential, if we open our eyes and our minds to allow it.
Cope’s group had three people: himself, his Kripalu guru in residence, and a veteran student named Rudi who provided the group’s steering of contemplative/self-revealing subject matter; and more importantly, Rudi asked the most penetrating questions for all to honestly consider while the group setting prevented occasional spurts of self-delusion to less-than-honest personal reflections.
Some of us don’t have those learned questioners (like therapists or gurus) in our lives, so we have to plod onwards ourselves in whatever manner that we can.
My internal ‘therapist’ seems to ask me the toughest questions right as I’m trying to fall asleep. I sure wish she’d change her office hours, but ‘Dr. ME’ can ask some pretty stinging zingers right as the world around me starts drifting away.
Dr. Me’s clarity and pointed inquiry is equally astounding and annoying because while I’d love to consider my deepest faults and most flagrant emotional weaknesses in the light of day, I’d truly prefer to actually sleep at night rather than tossing around old memories and slights in my head until my eyes leak with tears.
But I guess Dr. ME knows best how to penetrate my more formidable day-time defenses by inquiring at night with NO distractions; so who needs sleep, I guess, when further self-discovery and enhancing self-awareness are the ultimate goals?
I’m not sure how valuable Dr. Me’s consultation can be in the long run, but for now she’s fairly cheap by the hour, and the other night when she asked me the standard, “Why are you here?”
I said, “Damned if I know. I don’t usually have to pay others to listen to me—since they usually pay me to talk to them.”
Dr. ME distinctly frowned at that statement, …followed by extensive note-taking in the book on her lap.
Hmm, I wondered, …did I just state something quotable? 🙂