By Billy Sadia
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on September 26, 2013
It’s during my 200hour teacher training at the AYP shine center. The key facilitators of the program are my Director Paige Elenson, kiersten mooney and Lisa Taylor. On this one afternoon we come in after our lunch break to find an arrangement of seats that ran five rows. We were a big number and therefore you are toiling with a figure of above a hundred and fifty participants in the program. “Everybody please come on in with only your bottle of water and nothing else.” Came the resounding instruction from one of the assistants. Hurriedly and in a harsh silence we came in one after the other. That was an automatic response to the invitation that flew from the interior of the room all the way to where we were at the doorway. Noble silence!
After we are all seated, the facilitators made sure to give us time enough to speculate on what was coming, kept us guessing on what they were up to this afternoon. Nobody knew what to expect, if they did, they never whispered a word. But whatever it was, they took it serious and we saw it in the eyes of the assistants and it left no doubt in our minds that it was going to be one harsh reprimand or caution….just something stern.
All three main teachers march in like soldiers in a file. “Oooh ooh this is it, we are done.., we have blown it. They are going to announce that they are no longer going to facilitate because…….. I don’t know men. Am I being negative? I don’t think so, because all around me I am seeing curled up faces, something unexplainable but not good…grim, confusion maybe and worry. This silence is having a big of impact on people and I do not understand why they are doing this to us. This is not fair”, am thinking. It is not fair to keep people guessing for this long. May I remind you that it had only been less than five minutes since we began coming in and getting seated. Therefore quick arithmetic will place the time we have spent in silence to be under 1 minute, before the teachers strode in. So there they are at long last, but now I am even more afraid of what they are going to say and a side of me is hesitant to wish to hear them speak out!
Well, they didn’t they merely stood there with this soft motherly look that told you, you have no idea what’s coming. Jeez…I once liked silence and thought it was good at some point, but this is killing me…. say something people please! Somebody do something move a seat….just some little noise to break the silence…guys!!
“This afternoon” I squeezed my seat so hard my knuckles went blue; oh I forgot I am dark skinned, “we are going to practice noble silence”. What, I thought I didn’t hear right! But she said it again and ‘am like oh God another silence again! But at least she didn’t say we have done wrong or something! The back row was instructed to line up in the front of the room where two lines apparently had been drawn and closely together. The instruction was to stand still and face the people seated down. The seated population we were advised to look at them pointedly with an intention to see who they real are and for them to keep a soft face and let us in, in total and absolute silence. At face value this sounded kind of funny, but teachers explained that this was no game and that we were going to spend the whole afternoon seated there doing this exercise. So we looked at each other and they guided us in a sort of meditation. Urging the guys at the front to open up for them to be seen and that it were safe, and there is no point to prove. They just need to be authentic to themselves and to the rest of the class. They talked about the masks that we put on as individuals.
"AYP teacher Irene Is alway out here"
These masks are things like being shy. Shyness in other words is fear of contradiction, you are afraid of being wrong and you don’t have to be. When you know for sure that you are wrong, that’s when you are able to learn the right way otherwise you remain boxed in your ignorance forever. We are judgmental in nature, and that’s why we are afraid to be judged. When I am self judging and or judging others I am like fleas in a closed container. They can only jump as high as the container lid. We judge and eventually get trained by our judgment. Our judgment holds us back the height of the container lid. The masks that we put on in different circumstances in our lives are pulling us back from reaching our potential. They are pulling you back right now from experiencing this moment of self revelation. After a while the first row was told to stand up and face the fifth row already standing. We are meant to stand very close to each other; you could smell each other’s breath. You would be unlucky if you came face to face with someone with a bad odor! I was in the first row, and there I was standing face to face with someone special in her own sense. Different regions of origin, background, and color you name it. Somehow all these things didn’t matter. As I stood and listened to what the teachers were saying as they interchanged their talks from one to the other you could hardly tell who said what. But it all sunk with such deep weight and you could feel it all around. And it wasn’t long before people started crying in the room. It started with soft sobs, and then grew bigger and into outburst. Nobody was meant to help them as some of them could no longer stand the intensity of the exercise and crumbled to the floor. They were merely helped up and back to standing by the assistants. “Face your fears now and be truthful to yourself. Open up and let them in. Let them see you as you see them. Ask yourself if you are real, if you are who you think you are, do you really know who you are? Are authentic or is it a mask you are wearing. What kind of mask is your mask? Can you see them, you cannot see them if you are not authentic and truthful. Your hearts have to connect to be one, so you can feel what they are feeling. Create space and be a stand for someone else. If you need to shade a tear to show them how true this is, so be it, you need to open up for them to come in and feel comfortable enough to lean on you, to trust you, to know that you are there for them now not later, not tomorrow, now!
I want to be a stand for someone else in my life; I want to be able to listen in silence. I want to learn to listen generously. I want to exercise the nobility in silence, the acknowledgement of oneself in others, and others in myself. I want to be a bigger “me”, I want to create a different definition of the me to comprise the whole in man. I want to use to uniting power of yoga, the union of oneself, the silent meditational practice, the clarity in silence. The Noble