Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been reading (and loving) Susan Cain’s new book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.
In one chapter, Cain tells the story of how renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg helped to bring Buddhism to the West, finding refuge in meditation practice after suffering profoundly in her youth.
The young Salzberg’s teacher in India, Dipa Ma, tells her she’s ready to teach — not because she’s done some 200 hour training, but because she deeply understands suffering.
I love this and believe it to be so true.
Sure, there are countless 22-year-old Instagram yoga teachers performing all kinds of athleisure-clad stunts while spouting New Age clichés about positive thinking and the Law of Attraction.
But the only teachers I am really drawn to these days are those who have truly known suffering and loss and have come out the other side. People who have been *through it*.
Who cares what they look like in yoga pants, or whether they can touch their toes?!
Yoga and mindfulness colleagues, this is where we really have something to offer; a reminder that can keep us grounded when the pressure to do superficial bullshit (like making those cringe-worthy reels to keep up with the algorithm) feels overwhelming.
This practice is all about relieving mental and physical suffering. We can dress it up in athletic poses and expensive mala beads, but those are just trappings of the profound soul lessons — and potential for true ease, relief, and liberation — that all lie underneath.
So don’t worry about the damn reels or the washboard abs. Stay true to the teachings and just say real things that help people deal with their toughest shit. That’s what folks need the most right now, anyway.