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Provoking the Inner Teacher: Teachings from The Wizard of Oz
Follow follow follow follow follow the yellow brick road

The Yellow Brick Road

You are the night, the dispeller of the night and the candle lighting the way. You are both timeless and immersed in time. Your path is you, a precious gold and embodiment of teachings. You are also inherently pathless in nature. When our lives go from binary black and white to a non-dual rainbow spectrum of all the radiant colors of possibility like the first film ever presented in color, it is an unforgettable enfolding and unfolding moment from the concealed to the revealed.

The road is the hard-earned brick and mortar of discipline we’ve laid down, growing out of self denial into Self discovery. It is our effort put forth in uncovering our Truth through experience. Magnetized by a home that was forgotten, our path is our coming out, as everything that we need to know is within us.

Your personal practice, or what you think is personal, affects those around you. Timeless teachings are not personalized. What anyone learns are all contributions to everyone’s learning. Listen, pay attention, read the signs and be available for the message. Too full or inert, the inner teacher feels exiled or cast out from Self-directing one’s own bliss.

Where Courage Lives Fear Dies

Dedicated To The Graceful Hearted That Face Suffering & Free Fear.                      By Swan Michelle     “Suffering didn’t make me more fearful. It made me more real.” -Walking Each Other Home, Ram Dass     Discomfort, shakiness, uncertainty and not...

When You’re Ageless And You Know It

<--BACK TO ALL SWAN TALKS   (Click below to hear the full audio version of this blog post)by Swan Michelle“Aging; the party we have all indeed been invited to.”  -Mirabai Bush  There is something refreshing about mysteries coming out.  This is why funerals in...

This Is Your Brain On Trauma & How I Discovered It Through Yoga Nidra 


Trauma has been described in our trauma informed portion of our Yoga Teacher Training as “the inability to be present.” Through numerous evidence based studies shown in a Yoga Nidra “Irest” conference at the Sivananda Ashram, I learned trauma has substantially measurable effects on the brain’s function, particularly the brain stem, called the limbic system.

Embodying Clear Communication

Speak kindly to the waiter, to the grocery store clerk, to your children, to your parents, neighbor, peers, loved ones and friends. Belittling those whose values and morals you do not agree with, constantly judging them, purposefully diminishing or separating yourself from them means they will never listen to you.

A Soul Fire

A Soul fire is the spark of the embers of creation itself. It is the drive of life and the Soul’s willful ignition to exist. We’ve all got it. It’s our innate passion to survive, united with the yearning for meaning and endless conviction. No one has more or less of as it as it is the embers of our beginning, the light that never goes out and the force behind our inspiration.

The Guru Principle: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

In the story of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets many beings on her path whom she seems to not recognize. Her seeking, in studentship, reveals a wealth of teachings. All those who wander are not lost. The map may be more familiar than we currently “think”. There is always an inner teacher within you. It is a Divinely gifted compass.

There is nothing you can learn that you do not already know. The Sunlit Path; The Mother

On The Road

“Who is it you walk with? This should be asked a thousand times a day until doubting has ceased.” -A Course in Miracles, 156

In the story of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets many beings on her path whom she seems to not recognize. Her seeking, in studentship, reveals a wealth of teachings. All those who wander are not lost. The map may be more familiar than we currently “think”.

No one can walk alone as no one is separate. The Divine nature of each of us is within us and all around us. We are supported by a legacy that is far from ephemeral. To grasp this, it will often take form, otherwise Divinity is inconceivable to our changing, limited minds.

Mirrors reflect to us our current state of perception. Road signs point to “ways.” We initially need both as sometimes we get a bit lost and forget. Forgetfulness is incentive as it is not our nature. Those signs and those mirrors are perfectly placed, pulling us towards remembering our Self. Signs get us to think and choose, which provides experience. Experience is the point.

There is always an inner teacher within you. It is a Divinely gifted compass. You have free agency. The path, ever awakening, asks you to choose your moves. Many will point to a “way.” The Guru Principle extracts the dependencies still bound and holding us back, where independence can not fully ripen. A full budding of consciousness is interdependence, neither bound nor desolate.

You are the navigation system of your awakening. Tightness releases when we are at hOme and at ease within. “There is no place like hOMe.” Home means to be liberated of Spiritual malaise and anemia, where we separated Spirit from matter, then feeling distressed. Your gift to us all is you trusting instead of further denying your inner GPS.

Namaste: “Seeing” Another

Identifying with the eternal aspect of another can only come from your own initial Self recognition. There is an inner Guru in the Wicked Witch of the West, the flying monkeys and the Lion who thought he had no courage. The Guru Principle is the origin of us all, beyond personality and form. Personalities are fun, and they can be traps.

Teachings are timeless. Teachers will pass and are meant to. Gripping too tightly to who the good witch is, the fake wizard behind the curtain or a “perfect” teacher may create suffering. The teachings of an “enemy” and of a “saint” are both critical. Each plays their part. A mind no longer asleep can extract Divine presence. And, there is just no substitute for the inner Original.

The Guru Principle

“Guru,” from Sanskrit, is translated as “weighty, heavy or dark.” It is a gravitational pull, similar to a black hole or tornado in Kansas. It gathers, stirs and pulls out inertia at an accelerated, often uncomfortable rate.

The Guru Principle, as a Cause, not to be mistaken as just a form or quality, all effects, will inevitably magnetize and lift the covering of the original “rainbow body,” within. The broad overarching vision of the Guru Principle can see over a rainbow into the Soul of all.

Phonetically, Guru sounds like “Gee, you are you.” The Guru, as a principle, began with the tornado in Kansas. The tornado turned everything inside out, threw Dorothy off course and out of complacency, redirecting a more formidable, unwavering inner resolve. It’s the “aha” moment of “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.”

Discipline is related to the word disciple. We must trust and implement this discipline for ourselves. No one else can do the work for us. We don’t get to jump ahead. It is important to consider being an impeccable disciple of our discipline first and foremost. Student comes before teacher.

3 Types of Guru’s (excerpt from The Swan School Yoga Teacher Training Flight Manual by Michelle Baker)

Upa-Guru: Like a road sign, this person or situation points to a direction, If a person, they are still on the path. They are not “the” path. This could also be someone no longer in body, beings in other realms, or an animal, like Toto.
Embodied, role models assist in balancing out a planet filled with sadness and suffering. It is natural, loving, and motivating to honor those with experiences that are influential to us just by their very being. As launching pads, they raise the bar from which to keep growing and going, adding to the whole’s hope and elevation.

A role model may show you how certain tools work due to their experience. With a lack of self recognition and limited resources as a student, we may not yet recognize the tools or how they work.

I feel honored to be at the lotus feet of those teachers that have pointed to tools that work for me. It makes me weep to think of how grateful I am. Like elders, their experiences, trials, triumphs and stories, because they have gone before me with, influence me. I look to them to contemplate what traits matter to me or don’t. I deeply respect them in ways inconceivable to my mind. What an invitation and reminder to own up to mySelf they are!

Sat-Guru: This is someone who is in form and beyond form. Their consciousness is Absolute. It is far more rare. They are the path and inside of it. As a person from which to relate to, this could be such beings as Buddha, Christ, Mother Mary, Krishna, Allah or Neem Karoli Baba. Often in India, you will find all of these beings on one altar in unified Grace.

Lineage:
Sat-Guru is also within the context of lineage. Lineage is an ancient life line leading directly to the Divine, passed down from Prophets, Sages, and Saints. I am deeply moved by my spiritual home in lineage. It is a place that accepts me, provides space and encourages my discipline as a disciple of myself. There is an advisor when I ask. There is always someone praying for me when I don’t. I feel those prayers echoing out to me, reminding me that I am never alone.

Param-Guru: This is God, Divine, Creator or the Source of all. It is formlessness, pathlessness, timelessness omnipotent and omniscient.
The Param-Guru Principle is ever present, It does not leave. A connection to Source is your most powerful relationship. it’s important to remember that you have this.

To apply the Guru Principle is to take responsibility for tuning in directly to your most clear transmission, the Creator. Connecting to this is both stunning and humbling. It is to act as though the entire world were relying upon you. It is to also know that the world goes on without you. It is a reminder that an entire spirit world is watching and supporting you.

We all receive teachings. We are all students. We are all teachers. We are all deprogramming. We all need to practice. We are all still learning within different placements on the field, which is our orientation. Your position on the field affects the collective.

Lessons are meant to be set free. They aren’t as personal as we make them. The Guru Principle is a chance for us all to get over ourselves, and others, quite literally, somewhere over the rainbow.

Dorothy Gale:

Dorothy, an orphan, wanted to be anywhere but where she was, which was a barren sepia-toned Kansas. It just wasn’t good enough for her, and she was certain there was something better out there. Dorothy became convinced that someone or something else could tell her which way to go and what to do.

“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly. And the dreams that you dream of once in a lullaby” Yip Harburg

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

The inner rainbow is called the Chakra system in yogic traditions. It is also one who has attained a Bodhisattva state in Buddhism. Dorothy’s search to embrace her innate wisdom is vivid; her Soul is calling out to it. She instinctively knows there is something she is supposed to recover or discover, yet it seems intangibly “out there,” way up high beyond blue skies. This leaves her unfulfilled and “lost” yet her desire to be at home is the very means by which she uncovers where it actually is.

“Go find yourself first so you can find me.” Rumi

“Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours. You will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals. Not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables. When you really look for me, you will see me. Instantly you will find me in the tiniest house of time.” Kabir

The Tornado:

At that very moment of self-inquiry, Dorothy is tossed into a spiraling tornado where she is exposed to unforeseen terrors, such as the Wicked Witch of the West and everything familiar dismantling. Her “fixed” illusions and fears became exposed from the inside out. This is the Guru Principle at work.

Dorothy found a jewel of a landing even amongst seeming “chaos,” the Emerald City. Emerald green is the color of the Anahata or heart chakra. The priceless jewel is ever present, even amidst blinding upheaval, and even if we feel abandoned. G-U-R-U.
Satsang: The Tin Man, The Scare Crow, The Lion, & The Wizard:

Dorothy’s companions, or “Satsang,” were a like-aimed yet unlikely crew in pursuit of Truth: the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion knew not who they were. They grew to accept one another’s underdeveloped parts, just like any Spiritual community would do. A “Satsang” is not really just a group of friends hanging out. Like a yoga teacher training or community center, it is a diverse, personally accountable platform from which to evolve.

They each exhibited similar adjuncts, namely feeling incredibly insignificant and unworthy. One stated he needed a brain, another a heart, yet another courage, and most importantly, a home. Do you see how possibly each leads to the next?

Rumors of a Wonderful Wizard of Oz projected as the All Mighty Great and Terrible and the most powerful being in the Emerald City set them all on their path together. Dorothy spends all of her time convinced and invested in him as the answer. She decides that once she meets the Wizard, she will live happily ever after. It will then be superfluous to have to go through a personal struggle since he will save her and tell her what to do.

A Yoga Teacher

“Don’t think, feel. It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory.” Enter The Dragon Movie by Bruce Lee

If The Wizard of Oz himself came to Swan River Yoga and wanted to teach yoga at our studio, we would sit down with him first since we too feel responsible for how yoga is exemplified. This doesn’t mean it’s “the way” but it is indeed what matters to us as the space holders of what we’ve experienced yoga to be.

At some point, as students, which we all are, it may be wise to truly just sit down and simply write a list of what it is you look for in a yoga teacher. I have found very surprising outer forms in teachers I wouldn’t have predicted due to a magnetic pull, strength, dedication, proficiency, resiliency, longevity, honesty, softness, humility and of course wisdom I was drawn to more than their form.

At Swan River, we envision a dedicated yoga teacher wants to see all students equally supported in their own liberation, waking up to themselves, and not to us. Putting on a big show could encourage believers and belittling. Students don’t need rescuing. Their connection and their work is their gravitational pull to the Divine.

As yoga teachers, we aren’t into telling others what to do in their personal life. We are here to accept them, which is separate from their current beliefs, how flexible they are, how different they look, their preferences, or how momentarily sick, lost or broken they feel. That isn’t who they are. That isn’t how we see them.

We are yoga teachers after all, with backgrounds in physical asana, which is what they came for. This is our duty to provide, with intelligence, professionalism, concern, reliability, ethic and unshakeable, unconditional love. Altruistic teachers genuinely care about all students. Often students will never know just how much. It can’t be grasped.

Glinda the Good Witch

Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, was serene, understanding, and ancient beyond her years. She was known as a gracious Sorceress. She did not tell Dorothy what to do in her life. She supported Dorothy’s wishes and insights, letting her choose. Glinda the Good Witch watched from afar and was always right there when called upon. Hoping Dorothy would make optimal decisions, she often waited for Dorothy to inquire.

Glinda sincerely wanted Dorothy to be happy, liberated from her worries, and peace restored, nothing more. Glinda represents both a Spirit Guide and our very own Spirit, called the “Jivatma” in Yoga, “ liberated, Self recognized Soul.”

Glinda, like Spirit, honors your right to choose your path as the very crucial birthright you have in building the reservoir of capability you need and must hold well within yourself.

Any mentor leveraging personal persuasion over you due to their own agenda is a mentor worth questioning. Playing another’s substitute Higher Self is not healthy or sustainable as everyone needs the developmental rites of passage to hold their experience and truth for themselves.

Idols: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“If you see a Buddha on the side of the road, kill him.” Old Buddhist Saying

We all know that the Wizard was not so Almighty. If you see Buddha “out there,” that’s not it; it’s not real. Best to kill that projection right away. Even Buddha himself asked that no images be made of him and guess what? When I travel, it’s probably the most popular image that I see.

In a culture of personality, we easily create idols. From movies stars to pulpits, novelty, money or youth, it’s encoded into us socially to find something to worship on the outside. Idols fall, especially the more we identify them by their personality, looks, success, age, hipness, feet behind their head, or charisma as who they are, or as “the way” when indeed we are all “the way.” We are all the eternal Tao, Souls in body. Those “things” aren’t who they are.

Imposing specialness onto others, different from respect and gratitude, means you do not trust yourself completely. Then subject to the errors of mirage and projection, the likelihood of giving our power away, misunderstanding who they are or falling victim to things not aligned with us increases.

Know your point on the field as a student. Each relationship is unique according to our perception or needs of them at the time. In Dorothy’s case she was an orphan. She might have been looking for the perfect caretaker or parent archetype on the outside. We might go looking for roles in teachers that aren’t really them or their shoes to fill.

It is possible to be respectful, humble, receptive and floored by eternal waves of devotional gratitude while remembering, with discernment, that your personal deprogramming is a priority. No one is special and everyone is special. Dorothy later, yet not initially recognized who all of her main characters were in her saga once she arrived back “hOMe”. We are all it. The Guru Principle is everywhere.

“The kingdom of God is within you. It is not within buildings of wood or stone. Split a piece of wood and you will find me. Lift a stone and I am there.” – The Gospel of Thomas

The Ruby Red Slippers

Dorothy had something she didn’t recognize before and someone was graciously there to just simply point it out, her red ruby slippers. She could transport herself by clicking her heels 3 times and reciting the mantra “there is no place like hOMe,” which she had all along. Dorothy finally saw the moon, not just the finger pointing to it.

The one that pointed to the slippers asked for no credit, attention worship or pedestal. There were no hidden motives nor strings attached and nothing to gain from Dorothy. Thank goodness for these Guides in our lives! I too am unquestionably grateful for those that continue to accept me, to point, or show, instead of tell.

Dorothy’s freedom was inevitable. And Toto, an intuitive Spirit Animal, is always a blessing to be in company with on the path when wearing ruby red slippers in a rainbow body.

Remember you are hOme now and the Guru is within you. You were created as the object you seek. You are the means and the end. You are the search and the goal.

Accept yourSelf.

Namaskar,
Swan Michelle

The ultimate aim of any teacher is to make themselves unnecessary and to share with the pupils only what they already know. Marianne Williamson

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