Here is a list from Jen of 10 things she’s always wanted to say; a short list of reflection, encouragement, and caution:
1. Strength – when you start to break away from your conditioning, it requires a lot of momentum. This studio and community is an incredibly supportive place, even if it seems at times as if nothing else is supporting you. When you go your own way, there may be some who dont like it, and you must accept that. Ask for help, and it will come. The reward will be greater than you think.
2. Perseverance – it is the maintenance of a regular practice that will fuel the momentum and give you insight into your deeper layers; the consistancy is more important than duration.
3. Judgement – often shows up in your vulnerable spots as criticism of yourself or others. Truly ask yourself what is useful, valuable and constructive. What is left over is harmful and will only keep you stuck where you’re at.
4. Allow yourself to evolve – you will be attracted to the teachers and practice styles that serve your current understanding. Follow your heart and your gut.
5. The practices of meditation, taking retreat and silence will change your life.
6. Value integrity above all else – we’re all human and mistakes are inevitable, but it is the grace with which you attend to the mistakes is the important part. As your practice matures, you will take yourself less seriously but more sincerely.
7. Communication is key. Ask questions, be curious, don’t be shy to talk to your teachers, we are all totally stoked when people ask questions. We show up because we are compelled to share our experience and understanding.
8. Ego – establish a practice of inquiry. Often when people begin to practice,;their sense of self actually inflates because it thinks it knows something. So if you catch yourself feeling more “enlightened” than someone else or having a story that your practice is the only ” right”‘ way to do it, check yourself and ask for a mirror. As your practice matures, the ego gets more slippery and covert and hard to see; a good teacher will help you by pointing it out.
9. The measure of how you are doing with your practice is very often not how much more you have but how much less. It is the seeing who you are when everything you believe yourself to be falls away.
10. Although a teacher is infinitely helpful and useful for pointing out things that are hidden, until you have determined that something is true through your own consideration and inward counsel, do not accept it as truth. Seek to be the most honest and accountable with yourself above all, especially when it scares you.
Also, a letter from Jen to her community:
To the Canmore Community:
I know you might think it strange if I told you that i might get stagefright and not have much to say tonight. But it was a possibility so I thought a spoken letter would be the best way of conveying everything that I wanted to say.
Over the last while I have been thinking about the Cnmore community collectively, and the reality of leaving this place I’ve called home for almost 9 years. It has been quite the process for me to move thruogh, and in the last few months I have experienced many facets of excitement, fear, sadness, confidence, peace and even at times, panic in the various stages of letting go. As difficult as it has been to be with this intensity, I am quite sure when I look back on this time it will remain a poignant, memorable time in my life.
As a yoga teacher, I have had the privilege to know this comunity on a level that perhaps few others do. I may have known you for many years, and still not know what kind of work you do, who your friends are, your hobbies, or your relationship status. However, I have had the privilege to see different things; your approach to life, the ebb and flow of your best and worst days and the ways you meet them, the sticky spots in your minds and bodies. For those of you who I have seen regularly for many years, I am greatful, as it is not easy to show up consistantly, because you must eventually (and thankfully) admit to these vulnerable spots within yourself. I wonder whether you’ve seen over the years, the softening of your own faces and the strengthening of your character as i’ve seen in you. For those of you I see only occasionally, I am also grateful for the freshness you bring to the practices with your presence.
I am greatful to the student community, for bearing with my idiosyncrasies, my quirks, and my fire. My own approach to this practice has always been “go deep or go home”, and that undoubtedly shows up within my teaching. It has been such a beautiful experience to share in this mutual growth. I am quite sure that as much as you’ve learned from me, I have learned from you.
I am Greatful for my fellow teachers of the Bow valley and Sattva School, those of you who’ve been here since I began, and then the rest of you that have joined along the way. Thank you for being the most incredible, supportive and dedicated group of practitioners I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
I am greatful for Jeff and Hil and their commitment to continue to build this community. Thank you for holding the space for so many.
I am greatful to my own teachers, to each of them along the way for providing what i always needed at just the right time. Believe it or not, I myself have not been the easiest student, and it took many years for me to be able to listen.
And i am greatful for the new opportunity that lies ahead. To once again start from scratch, and get to experience all of the things that go along with building something anew, the ups and downs, the inevitable successes and deadends that will go along with this process of living.
If there is one thing that stands out for me during this time in my life that I have taken from practice, it is the realization that human life by its nature is flowing and cyclical, and to live well and deeply is to soften into these cycles and experience them to their fullest. To give you with a peek into my own process, my perspective can be summarized by one of my favourite lines from the Tao te Ching.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
So for the joy, the bliss, the hardships, the tears, the high summits and dark valleys, the brilliance and colour that have painted my life here in Canmore, I am greatful. The years i have spent in canmore have been the most beautiful years of my life. Thank you so much for being part of it, and I wish the same for all of you. Namaste