Hi, this is Choyin, speaking… while I am actually writing. I contribute a lot of the posts to this blog, and so far it has been a pleasure for me, albeit mostly serious stuff. I hear you, really, I do. No one can stand too much of that. Too much of a good thing always turns into a bad thing. Seriousness can become ridiculous, and quickly. So today, we take off instead: to a Paradise island, or down memory lane. Which will depend on how you look at it, or I look at it, because it is my story – about a trip quite a few years ago that was mostly dedicated to teaching bodywork and Tibetan yoga with my then partner Paula Horan in Mauritius.
Now again, teaching is likewise a serious topic, and so is Tibetan yoga. Mostly, these two are taken much too seriously and in the wrong way, especially in India, or worldwide by those who consider themselves “teachers”. Too bad for this country that so far there seem to have been only “Three Idiots” rebelling against it. How about 30 Million? Or 300 Million? Then teaching and yoga might become what they by nature are: easy, relaxing, spontaneous, lightly & mildly enlightening. You know the stuff they call ‘fun’. Not my favorite word because it IS over-used, and sooo shallow; saying nothing really, other than that I pretend to myself that I am not bored. But then, yeah, life can be fun – and so can teaching; especially on a Paradise island.
There were three courses, a 2-weeker privately organized, a 4-day introduction into Siddha Marama massage for the staff at the Mauritius Hilton in Wolmar, and of course, a 5-day NadiPrana or Tibetan yoga retreat, plus all the other stuff that Paula used to do and still does, like Reiki. As a matter of fact, the courses came in reverse order, the NadiPrana retreat first.
It does not really matter where you do such a retreat. Paradise Island or not: you turn inward. You become silent. Not in order to transform into a deaf, dumb or mute (no speaking allowed during the retreat), but in order to hear, and see, and smell, and taste and touch even better, more fully. Silently focusing on what is happening through letting your body and breath move you will inevitably imbue you with immeasurable fullness. During the retreat you don’t venture out further than the porch from your room, or the dining area and the practice hall. But on that porch you can have it all: the evening clouds and the sunsets much more vivid than in a 3-D movie, because here everything is unfathomably ‘real’. It involves the concert of all the senses, not just the eyes. You can also re-discover all the things you don’t usually look at because you take them for granted, like the dessert pudding on your plate, or the deep red of your cranberry tea. And then you breathe. Sure, you always do that. Otherwise you’d drop dead. But do you feel it? Do you very once in a while in the day or at night feel your breath? Breath is flowing in and out, so nice and easy, no big deal. But in the ‘no-big-dealness’, every once in a while comes a great revelation… which then also quickly disappears, thank God. We don’t want to have anything too great hanging over our heads and block our vision, do we? To sum it up, the NadiPrana retreat on Mauritius was outwardly uneventful. And that is a good thing. Two of the bodyworkers who would later join the 2-week program, also took part. They said they could not believe how different it felt to touch after that. How rich and immediate, no thoughts or ego in-between. Way to go, for a good massage: rich and immediate.
At the Hilton, they were looking at us guardedly, at first. Who are these two people who want to teach us? One American and one German, but living in India? All the split-personality stuff briefly came up that goes on in the three ring circus of the corporate world, actually anywhere in the world where ambition comes into play: the “I-am-already-in-and-I-belong” superiority feeling, versus the nagging undercurrent of doubt: “Am I really good enough?”; “Could he or she bring my weak points out for all to see?” The best approach to deal with that is, not to deal with that: to ignore it and get on with the program. Anyway, these were genuinely beautiful people, one of them very well trained with a degree from a physiotherapy school in London, the others in-house trained only. We enjoyed their curiosity and their willingness to drop the guard every session a little more, all of them. Their most meaningful discovery, however, was not in the new techniques that we introduced to them, their greatest discovery was, to experience and feel how much the stance or posture that the therapist takes during the treatment, changes the quality of experience for therapist and client alike. Four days is not a long time. Not much can be achieved. But, to really understand posture, is indeed a big achievement – not only for a massage therapist – but also for the human being whose job happens to be that of a massage therapist. And for those who are curious about the results of the endeavor: yes, they all were able to deliver well-paced, naturally flowing and invigorating siddha marma treatments after four 10-hour days of training.
The last event was the 2-week training in basic bodywork (Swedish, Easlen & Deep Tissue), and it unfolded the same as all the other bodywork intensives that we taught together over the years: exciting and challenging. What else if not intensity can be the order of the day, when you bring a dozen people from different corners of the earth together, lock them in one place (except for the swimming breaks in the afternoon) for 15 days and ask them to work together from 6:00 Am to 10:00 PM?
One thing was different though, the get-together in the evening after the closing session. Mauritians love plenty of good and varied food. They are generous and they know how to throw a party. They are a very lovely people, most of them of either African or Indian origin. And they speak French, or Creole among themselves (English more for business). Can you imagine how much the liveliness inherent in speaking French or Creole would loosen up the usually more rigid facial structures of people from India? Just plain wonderful to see. And refreshing to be with.