December 2021: On Lessons Learned

Today, 7am on 28 December 2021, in my hometown of Bilbao in the north of Spain.

On Lessons Learned

It is the last day of 2021. As this turn around the sun closes, I look back on it. What have I learned this year, what insights have I acquired? Learning a lesson, though, is not simply naming it, identifying it. A clear thing one learns changes one’s life, even if subtly.

Learning a lesson is very different from hearing it. I notice this on the mat all the time. There are things my teachers have told me time and time again, which I have heard, but not really learned. Then one day there is that moment, that HA! that is what it really means. From that moment, everything changes: perhaps the posture itself, the attitude towards what it represents and often even my own view of myself. I have also learned this year, mainly through meditation, that the deepest lessons don’t announce themselves with big bangs. They are minute changes of perception but so important.

For me, as a teacher, there is also the question of sharing lessons with students and supporting them to learn their own. To truly share the lessons I have learned, I have to embody them. It is no good to encourage my students towards something I think is important without walking the walk myself first. Talk is not sufficient here. This is something that requires a lot of skill and constant learning on my part. In fact, one of the things I have learned is how important it is for me as a teacher to remain open to the lessons my students offer to me.

For all the lessons of 2021 which I have received with gratitude, I bow to my teachers and my students. Thank you. Let us approach 2022 with an open heart and mind. The possibilities are all there.

Laura x

What I have been listening
I think Charles Eisenstein is one of the clearest thinkers around at the moment. In 2021, I have really enjoyed listening to many of his podcasts. He is able to digest and share what he has learned with generosity and compassion. He has a profoundly lucid and whole view of the world and its interconnectedness and I hope you enjoy listening to this conversationaround his book The More Beautiful World Our Heart Knows Is Possible.
What I have been reading
I have always had trouble distilling lessons clearly for others in a neat list and I read those who can do this with awe. Even if I don’t agree with (or perhaps have not yet learned) all of them, The Minimalists’ 40 Life Lessons from 40 Years has made me think and sometimes approach challenges differently. Here are my favourites lessons:

Letting go is not something you do. It is something you stop doing.

Success does not exist. Running after a result isn’t success—it’s chasing. Chasing the past or the future. Success is always bound to chasing. Chasing is attachment. Attachment is suffering.

Love is more. In our culture, we stretch love to apply to people and pick-up trucks, friends and fried chicken, lovers and Louis Vuitton bags. But when you extend anything beyond its natural limits, it loses its strength. This is especially true with love.

Busyness is a cultural disease. There is a vast difference between being busy and being focused.

A life without boundaries is a life without peace. It might seem like setting boundaries is the last thing you’d want to do to foster relationships—as if boundaries mean you’re unwilling to let people in. But you can establish a boundary without erecting a fence. Knowing your boundaries will help you get a grasp on what you’re willing to accept, as well as what you need to reject, to live congruently.

There are no shoulds. There are only coulds—possibilities for the future. A devoted seeker won’t find anything they must do, but they will discover many things they can do if they are compelled—compelled not by society, but by a deep longing in their heart.

What I have been practicing

I am so incredibly lucky to have amazing teachers in my life: my dearest Kia, James, LucySudhir, RoseAnn … I have learned SO many things from them and there are many more that I need repeating and I am sure I will eventually learn them.

One thing they all teach, a common lesson from all of them is that there is no practice without inquiry. Practice is not mechanical, repetitive action. The magic ingredient is inquiry and without it there is no transformation, no insight, no lessons. What is inquiry? My own personal definition is that it is the capacity to ask the right questions, truthfully.

I now work with my own set of questions, ones I have crafted for myself to reflect where I am and what I need. In my journey through yoga and psychoanalysis – and even in my journey writing books – I have discovered that asking the right questions is quite a skill. At the beginning, I borrowed them from others and, for a while, I worked with Daniel Schmachtenberger’s Dharma inquiry, which James shared with me. I hope you find it useful if you want to deeper your questioning.

Yoga Moves Glasgow‘s programme will restart on 10 January. I teach ONLINE on Tuesday mornings and LIVE at the Arlington on Thursday mornings. If you want to come to a LIVE class, please book in advance as we are still restricting numbers for safety and comfort.
Tuesdays, 07.15 – 08.30/09.00, ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore)* 
Thursdays, 07.15 – 08.30/09.00, LIVE | Yoga (Mysore)*PRANAYAMA (Breathing) first Tuesday of every month

07.15 – 08.30

£5 ONLINE | £11/£9 LIVE

I am also available for pranayama one-to-one sessions online (introductory or following up your practice). Reply to this email if you want to find out more.
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland classes for staff will resume online on the 10 January. Contact HR for details. Keep an eye out for announcements for classes for students. Sorry these are taking so long to organise!