Leaves falling down, and forming layers after layers on the ground, and in a lake, is often a symbol of thoughts that come into your mind, which in a similar way forms layers after layers, which you in your meditation can move yourself through, and digest. A bit like if you by your attention to the thoughts, like an earthworm turns the leaves into earth. When your meditation is regular, you will have digested many of the daily thoughts from your ordinary life, and you will be able to see far down into the lake.
Yesterday we at last started with the first lesson of this year's rendition of the intermediate/advanced yoga class. Now there are some of the students who have been with me for quite some time. Several of them have even been on my summer retreats, and there is none of these students who are not eager to learn more, and to go deeper with their meditation and yoga practice. I have therefore decided to pick it up a notch, and will this semester for the first time have some long-term over-arching plans for the semester, which also will include some homework, and some assumptions of an increasing and basal level of their own practice when they come.
To understand this last statement, I should say that the big difference between an intensive summer retreat and a weekly evening-course is that at the weekly courses you are almost always starting from "scratch". By that I mean that I almost always assume (and see) that the students who come are stressed and tired, and even though I certainly differentiate between how deep and long I go with each pose depending on the level of the student, I spend most of the class just doing things to get them back to a nice harmonious state, which allows them to go on with their lives. In contrast, at the summer retreats, I know that as the course goes on, their level will gradually increase, because they are not spending a relatively long time between each yoga practice, but are all the time improving their state in a gradually evolving process, that lasts the entire course. This does not mean that there is not pretty much up-and-down in terms of moods at such courses - it is! - but it does mean that their level at the different yoga-parameters improves, and that I can take them to places that are much deeper and more far-from-ordinary than is normally possible during a shorter process. For instance, I know that at the end of the course, they are able to sit for quite a long time in meditation, and that many of their daily "stress and just daily-digestion"-thoughts are out of their system - that deeper layers have started to emerge, and that a greater level of peace is available to them. These levels of depth and peace are available to you when you are home from the retreats as well, but typically not if you do not meditate regularly; there are then too many daily thoughts that needs digestion that lies on top of the deeper layers. The same goes for all the other parameters: breathing exercises, yoga-poses, etc.
So, this semester, I will have an evolution that is similar to that in a summer retreat, in the sense that I will try to make a progress over the semester. However, this will then, as I argue above, imply that I will have to inspire them to also do a little "daily digestion medition" at home, in between my weekly classes. If it works out, it will be really cool, and it will allow us to do some really cool stuff. One of the things that I plan to do is to go through all the six steps in Antar Mouna. They do that outside of the summer retreats also in Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School. But in those Antar Mouna courses, they only teach meditation, and do not mix it up with yoga; which means that you often feel like your body would need attention to first, before you can fully enjoy the meditation. Also, they do not assume anything about the progress in between the classes. In other words, if I succeed with the above strategy for the intermediate/advanced class this year, I will really have obtained an important improvement. It will also mean that I can help them do something that is not possible even during the summer courses: to get depth and clarity also into their everyday life, and to get a healthy relation also to their everyday thoughts. Both of these are things that are really to the heart of what I want to achieve with my yoga school: to get yoga out of the ashram and into the everyday life, without loosing any of its depth! In other words: it will be really exciting to see how this will work out! :)