NEW SERIES IN THE WORDS OF A TEACHER TRAINEE JULIA JONSON COHN TELLS ALL
Peeling Back the Layers By Julia Jonson Cohn (RYT PENDING, CLASS #9 TBY TEACHER TRAINING)
I always cry when I peel onions… the more I peel and chop, the more tears that flow. This has been the case for me more often than not lately each time I lie in Savasana. I feel as if I’m peeling back layer after layer of ego and really getting to the core of who I am -- an infinite being who is already perfect and whole. I guess you could call them tears of joy for an incredible discovery made through deepening both my yoga practice and meditating more often.
My fellow teacher trainees and I spent a recent day of training delving deep into meditation. We started our day with a yoga class led by our teacher, Rachel Dewan. She encouraged us to practice the principle of Ahimsa (or non-harming) both in class and in our lives. After our yoga practice wrapped up, we took that theme a step further as we sat in a group and meditated for 30 minutes. Rachel guided us into stillness and at the end, the feeling seemed unanimous… time flew and we had all gone to ‘the other place,’ as yoga teacher Andrea Harris calls it. Andrea says, "when we spend every waking moment of our day cognizant of only the external portion of our existence, we miss out on something truly important. When we close our eyes with awareness and acknowledge our internal existence, each and every quiet breath lifts away a layer of distraction. Underneath those layers lie your true light, your true spirit, and it is beautifully, wonderfully divine."
The benefits of meditation are extensive. Rachel taught us that a person’s physical health can improve tremendously, if not transform, with regular stillness. Many scientists and doctors are now finding proof of meditation’s direct impact on the way the brain is wired. Clinical research is being done in the areas of depression, anxiety, asthma, cancer and other diseases that shows how patients can reduce symptoms and often times even cure what ails them through a regular meditation practice. Just last week the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the mental health benefits of mindfulness. Psychologists are using new cognitive behavior therapies to help people combat self doubt through a) accepting their thoughts and b) remaining present in the moment. Hey, that’s yoga!
I am officially sold. Not that I needed to be, but it is exciting to see a personal transformation as I meditate more frequently and to know that I will have something invaluable to share with my students. Yet another way to help them increase their level of happiness and see the world more clearly. In the book, “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness,” (a required read for our teacher training) author and yoga instructor Erich Shiffman reminds us that “it is not arrogant or egotistical to feel good inside. You had nothing to do with it. It’s simply the honest response to clearly perceived Reality.” For me, it just feels so great to feel good most of the time. Reason enough to find time for stillness.