I was very privileged, to participate with 30 other individuals, in the inaugural weekend workshop of Off the Mat, Into the World.
I drove down from our rural paradise on Mitchells Island with the intention expanding my yoga community and discovered that the course delivered that goal and so much more.
The experienced, professional course leaders came over from New Zealand to introduce the work of the organisation to Australia. I can’t do justice to the breadth and depth of what yogis who are involved in OTM get up to in all parts of the world.
But I can say that the insights I received from the weekend were at once personal and universal. I saw that the insecurities and doubts that I have as a human being are similar to those expressed by others over the weekend. And that. somehow when we speak from vulnerability into a safe space, as we had the opportunity to do many times on the weekend, that there is healing and connection.
And power. Our human frailties may always be there to some degree, but nevertheless we can still realise our fondest dreams, particularly with the support and understanding of our fellow travellers.
I see that the weekend course functions both as a homecoming and/or as a launching pad, a place where we can un-cover our Essential Being and from there create the vision of what we want in the world.
I cannot recommend the OTM work highly enough. I’d bet my bicycle you’ll be hearing soon from quite a few of the weekend attendees. In the meantime check out this site, as well as the New Zealand site.
It’s said that the world has become like a small town in many ways. The web and mobile phone services connect us instantaneously with amazingly remote places. Inexpensive air travel has made big distances minuscule.
This process has accentuated the differences between rich and poor, haves and have-nots, developed and developing, as we see the disparities so much more clearly. I know people who want to turn their heads, not read the newspapers or watch the evening news, rather than have famines, floods and human afflictions in their faces.
So, I was very much heartened today to hear of the work of Off The Mat, Into The World. Marianne Elliott – Regional Leader for Australia & New Zealand – has contributed a podcast recording to the website Yoga Teacher Podcasts that I found inspiring and you might too.
The OTM organisation couples yoga practice with “conscious, sustainable activism and grass roots social change”. Those who sign on can participate in leadership trainings, link in community collaboration, and create local and global service projects.
There are so many ways of getting involved with other people for the common good.
I decided that when I turned 60 that it would mark a turn on the road for me from being career-oriented to being an elder in the yoga community, contributing in whatever ways possible. This seemed a better approach than being down in the dumps about getting old. To celebrate turning 60, I created a project of raising money for Medecins Sans Frontieres by getting sponsorship from friends and family and shaving my head. I even got a friend with a similar birthday to engage in this activity with me, and we raised $5,000.
Yoga practice is not really a solitary pursuit. Mature practice makes us want to share the blessings we receive and connect with our global family. Perhaps you’ll be able to find ways of doing this in this the season of goodwill and giving, and make it a commitment and focus for the New Year.