Samadhi and Teaching

David Rush



What is it? What is it, really?

Some months ago, I started planning some workshops on yoga for my students at Strongbodies, and in particular, one workshop i cared a lot about was The Rest of Yoga, all about the “yoga” things that weren’t asana. In it, I was planning to give an overview of the eight limbs over four weekends, ending, of course, with samadhi.

This is not the article where I am going to talk about that, but in the process of developing the workshop materials, I ran across a fabulous interview with Greg Maehle that talks about samadhi as a practice, not some kind of mystical end-goal where one escapes the chains of the mundane world.

I was delighted with Greg’s description, because it fit so well with what I have felt for a long time: samadhi happens all the time. Whenever we step outside of our limited, individual, world-view (called aham in the Bhagavad Gita and other texts) to embrace that of another it is a moment of samadhi.

Incidentally, this is also why having children and pets can be so helpful in one’s spiritual growth.

And the thought I want to capture for you today is how teaching asana also requires the practice of samadhi. You see, after nearly a year of relatively intense, daily, asana practice my body has started to change rapidly, and it just doesn’t work like it used to. Now this is all good, I love the feeling of openness and the sheer sensual pleasure of the movement in my practice more than ever, but it does pose a bit of a problem when I come onto the mat as a teacher. My experience of asana has become so different from what it was during my first five years that it isn’t a very good guide to my student’s experience.

And that, I guess, is where the practice of samadhi becomes an important part of the teaching practice. As a teacher, I need to learn to open that door into my students’ experience with pratyahara (withdrawing from my aham), dharana (centering in the student aham), and dhyana (flowing attention throughout the whole experience). Then, maybe, I can help my students move through their own muscular, nervous, and energetic blocks to come into their own place of pleasure in the present moment.

So to any of my students who end up reading this: Thank you for being patient with me while I learn to serve you better. We are all working on the same lessons, just in different ways.


This document was translated from LATEX by HEVEA.