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Meditation and Ice-cream

Has the "flavour of the week" mentality taken over your practice? It offers variety but does it root you to a lineage?

When I started practicing yoga it was during a time where people thought of it as an 'alternative' lifestyle. It was by no means mainstream. The stereotype ran from people who wore hemp hats and ate granola to attending week-end protests and hating people who wore fur. Today, all of this has changed with yoga as a cool, hip, stylish and fashionable activity. For many it is more than this, but also a necessity for reducing stress and maintaining good health. Ironically, however, it is better understood as a practice for well-being than as a deeply spiritual one (or one at all).

The shift in attitude about yoga shows the way our thinking is conditioned by the media, other people and advertisements. Interestingly enough, it is not always influenced by yoga itself as traditional yoga teachers promote a vegan diet while non-traditional teachers drink wine and eat meat. Neverthelesss had yoga remained an 'outsider's' activity and less of the 'in' thing fewer people would have discovered relief from stress and tension. However, when we dig a bit deeper we can see how the growing trend tends to encourage a "flavour-of-the-week" mentality. That is, we start to believe that by gaining a lot of knowledge and seeking out teachers from one tradition to the next we will improve and enhance our ability as well as satisfy our desires. Contrary to the popular understanding, ``variety is the spice of life`` this does not apply to yoga and can be limited.

Yoga is a practice that is grounded in tradition and rooted to a lineage. While there are many branches to venture onto it is not usually wise to grab as many as you can and try to get to another side of the tree. Moving too quickly from one to the other may also be superifical and counter productive. Yoga is a practice that goes deep and the more you learn the more you want to dig deeper.  

Throughout my travels and studies within India I have practiced and studied with many other students over the years. I discovered that many of these practitioners had already been studying and training with a lot of other teachers, different types of yoga and variations of meditative. A common thread amongst them was in moving into one tradition and with one teacher for a period of time and then leaving. For whatever reasons there came a point where the teachings were no longer satisfactory, fault was found with the teacher and the students in the class. While it can be argued that studying under new teachers and learning from various traditions is enriching, it can silently side-step the way the untrained mind craves variety and by-pass being consist. 

I believe it can be relatively easy to say that trying something different isn't bad. However, gathering, collecting and gaining more knowledge is not the same thing as learning. Called ``Spiritual Materialism`` it is another way of by-passing the core and thinking we are progressing and evolving. These were the key teachings of Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche, a Buddhist meditation master and teacher. He foresaw the paradox inherent in the spiritual maze as people involved themselves in practices that instead of lessening the ego enhanced it. In order to recifty this there are 3 things necessary to help one progress along the path. One is having a main teacher, the second is having a practice and the third is doing the practice. The late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois put it in a similar way by saying more than one practice or teacher was like more than one wife and ``not good.`` 

It can also be exciting to study from different sources, but the question is whether or not it is serving you well or the most? It can be compared to going home. Usually we have one ``place`` which we consider home. This is the place where we retire at the end of the day and from which solace is found. From my experience and having studied directly with a primary teacher for over 12 years it provides the direction of moving down and deep rather than outward.  

Undoubtly as a student searching for what works it is confusing in the matrix of teachers and yoga types and methods available. The paradox is that sometimes we have to travel from teacher to teacher and style to style to style before we find what resonates. At a certain point, however, and probably within the first 5 years of practice the primary source should become established.

 It is worthwhile to reflect upon whether or not the ``flavour-of-the-week``mentality has taken over your path rather than committing to one lineage, one main source and one main teaching method.

The practices of yoga certainly branch outwardly, but inevitably are rooted by having grown firmly from the ground up.          

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