I started my teaching career during my senior year in college. I was teaching aerobics and Pilates back then, but I also had many opportunities to take classes and workshops with well-known yoga teachers. My life seemed to waver back and forth during that time. On the surface I seemed to be busy, but deep down inside, I was empty. It wasn’t until 2007, when I met Richard Freeman, the acclaimed yoga master, that I finally felt that I have “came home” and I knew immediately that he was my guru.
First time I took Richard’s teacher training was in 2008. My English was not very good then and every time he talked about philosophy, I just wanted to cry because I couldn’t understand him. I would get back to my room each night and tried to look up the earliest available flight back to Taipei. Luckily, Mary, Richard’s wife, came over and told me: “don’t worry; even the English speaking students do not understand him either.” It was then I realized actually the essence of transmitting knowledge and tradition doesn’t just come from the words and language. To truly understand the meaning, we have to listen with our heart. Self expression is already difficult for Asians, plus when we can’t use our own native language, the discomfort and insecurity inside keeps on surfacing. Often time, we just want to run away, retreat back to a safe place inside. But, I stayed. I just kept telling myself, just sit there, even you don’t understand, just remain seated.
Sometime during that month, I discovered after I have turned off my usual language function, all of my senses became more astute and sharp and my heart more open. My communication with others became more basic and more real. I was more aware of everything. In our modern society communication has become very convenient; we can use various ways to contact each other without being face-to-face. However, it is also because this convenience that the connection between people have dissipated.
Thanks to my yoga practice, every cell of my body has become more awakened and more connected to the heart. Richard’s teacher training has transformed my practice for the whole life time. I realized that to surrender requires courage and practice. Also, don’t practice with habitual patterns or thinking it through with the mind; practice being in the moment by using the breath and alignment.
Pema Chodron mentioned in her book “Wisdom of No Escape” that there is no such thing as a real story. When you realized you are attached to certain things (like when you are judging whether it is good or bad), you need to befriend it, and deeply understand it thoroughly, this way your attachment will disappear. Buddha has taught us conflict arises if we keep on holding on to our own belief.
I’m very thankful of all the teachers I met in different stages of my life, especially my main teacher, Richard Freeman. He taught me to always maintain the beginner’s mind, compassion and love and to always reflect on the self and the external practice.