This is an excerpt from the journal I kept with me on my teacher training in India, Three minutes late to the Shala for Ashtanga practice and Kamal (our teacher) isn’t happy. Given my history, I should not have been this defensive, I was wrong and I knew it. I had basically told him that I was only a couple of minutes late, as I always am, and that I arrived before he even did. But that was not the point.
Not only was I wrongfully defensive, one of my resolutions was to fix my time issues and stop making excuses. Did that anyway. Mid-way through Surya Namaskara B, he made me stop and help with adjustments as practice. With too much pressure on me and having not observed for a while since I was sick, I didn’t do as well as I should’ve. I almost dropped a student, helping her into handstand. I was so disappointed and angry at him, at me, I was on the verge of tears.
At the end of the class, he put me in silence. Not unexpected since he told me before that I need to stop talking and socializing and start studying instead. I also lost my gap between Pranayama and Ashtanga. From now on, I’d have to head straight to the shala with no break.
It was a thing Kamal often did, putting students he felt needed it in silence. He wrote the word on a piece of paper and stapled it to my shirt, so that I knew it and everyone else did. And we all knew the drill. I was not to speak a word, nor is anyone to speak to me, until the end of the next day. I still have the paper glued in my journal.
My defensiveness soon diminished. I was in it, I might as well make peace with it and see if I can make use of it. At the end of the night, when I took off my shirt and the note off of it, I wrote the following:
Pros of being in silence:
Constructive self-criticism. Being silent, and hearing what I would’ve said if I could speak, was an unbelievable lesson. It got me to understand how I see things, how I react and how I can change and need to change all that to the better.
Reconnecting with my Sankalpa. Understanding it more and breaking it down to practical ways in order to achieve it. A Sankalpa is an intention, one we learned through our teachings to set, every day.
A Break. A much-needed break.
More awareness of me. More awareness of the energy I project and my contribution to the group and to people in general.
Cons of being in silence:
Silence truly was a great teacher for me on my teacher training journey. Notice that the pros don’t include “finally learning to arrive on time”. Again, that wasn’t the point then. I am more aware of it and I try to fix it to this day still but the lessons I learned from being in silence were bigger than that. Looking at the notes in my journal, after that day I wrote in more detail, I was paying more attention, I was relearning why I chose to come on this journey and I was envisioning my journey in life on a bigger scale. I learned how small I am, how big my effect can be, the power of energy and the benefits of awareness.
I always think of repeating this experience again, making it a habit every now and then. Now that I relived this experience with you, I feel the urge and excitement to repeat it soon. Who knows what I’ll learn this time? Interested to try it? Please do. Don’t put too much thought into, don’t spend days planning it, just do it. I can’t tell you what you’ll learn from it but I can guarantee you a sense of awareness that is profound. If you do try it, share with me if you’d like how it was for you :)