August Newsletter: Empty of separation & Full of goodness

August 12, 2015
I11825039_1601084726827869_6634581245755461003_nn the last six weeks I’ve taught three 10-day teacher training intensives – two in Lynchburg and one in Berlin.  The students in each program were earnest, smart, vulnerable, willing, strong, and creative.  I feel honored to know each of them and inspired by the individual mentoring work they are all doing in order to be of service in the world.  They are integrating yoga with social service, music, physical therapy, nutrition, anatomy, Buddhist meditation and philosophy by taking their practice into the real life of their countries:  creating women’s shelters in Turkey; teaching yoga and mindfulness in the House of Parliament; working with prisoners in Florida and corporate leaders in North Carolina.  
Now I am in New Mexico for a couple days of holiday before going back into Chaplaincy training at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe.  This morning I got to watch the sunrise come up behind the Sandia Mountains and as I reflected on my work this summer, I felt full and empty at the same time.
Emptiness.  This is a word that comes up in Buddhist philosophy and I’ve noticed that a lot of people find it confusing.  I get it.  How can emptiness be a good thing? Emptiness can even seem to imply that Buddhists believe in nothing, that we think nothing exists, that we are nihilists.   
Au contraire!  Emptiness is more like a traditional, inside-out way of saying fullness.  It means that nothing exists on it’s own.  Everything comes from something, everyone has a mother.  So we say that we are empty of independent existence — in other words, we are all connected to each other and to all that is.  Indeed, we are full — full of connection, full of interdependence.  With every breath we take, we are sharing the same ocean of air.  Our every action has an impact, just as we are affected by actions and events in far away places.
This is what Chaplaincy training is all about – becoming a social change agent.  We start with our own practice on the mat and cushion.  This is how we learn to recognize our own stress and sadness, and to realize it comes from thinking we are separate.  Then we look for opportunities to help and ways to relieve the suffering of others.  
What I am learning from my teachers, Roshi Joan and Sensei Alan, is flowing through me and right into my sixty beautiful advanced teacher trainees.  It is a network that is empty of separation and full of goodness.
Hope to see you all on the mat and cushion this year.  I’m excited about all the opportunities I have to share the dharma goodness with you.
Lots of love,

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From The Yogis

  • Terri Bender Morrison, Owner, Mindful Motion Yoga, OM 500 TT 2015

    "Cyndi, I feel that my teaching has shifted a bit - sequencing is more interesting and effective. As I was driving home tonight, I thought about the statements of "leaving crumbs" and "connecting the dots". While you meant that for us as direction to be better teachers, I recognize you were doing that for us as well. I believe I am just now processing some of the things you taught this summer. The subtle parts of classes escaped me, but I am getting them now. Thank you for the crumbs, for leaving plenty of space between the dots....I think I see the moon."

  • Zan Margolis, OM 200 TT , 2012

    "The more yoga I experience, the more I realize how special it is that in your teacher trainings you actually teach your yogis how to *teach*"

  • Susan Golden, Studio Owner, Maine

    "Cyndi’s sense of humor and genius teachings have made this OM 500 TT very, very stimulating every minute of the day. I’ve learned so much. I can’t wait to let it all come together and bring this to my teachings and to my life."

  • Natalie Levin, OM Yoga Graduate, OM Warrior Weekend Teacher Training Program 2003

    "I am a graduate of the OM 2003 Warrior Weekend Teacher Training Program.  I had the honor to teach at OM yoga in New York City for several years.  I have since moved to another city and was instantly offered teaching jobs based solely on the fact that I had been a teacher at Cyndi Lee’s OM yoga.  Studio owners in my current city thought so highly of Cyndi Lee’s OM yoga Teacher Training that they hired me immediately and I found and continue to find that my OM yoga Teacher Training opens door after door for me.  OM yoga (practicing there, teaching OM yoga, and learning from Cyndi Lee) helped me professionally in my own yoga-teaching career.  Even more meaningfully for me, I feel that the path of mindfulness and attention to alignment that pours through the pores of OM yoga has influenced me and helped me to soften enough to become more “myself” since I first walked into the OM yoga studio."

  • Jeri Wilson, Studio Owner, Maine

    “I’m Jeri and I’m a studio owner in Maine and I just finished my 500 hr TT with Cyndi Lee. It was an excellent experience, partly because I had been trained primarily in Anusara and I was challenged to think very differently. I found it was very helpful to come back to teach with Cyndi’s influence. She is very, very funny and she will work you and challenge you and you will feel like you have actually gained something really deep from the training.”

  • Jeanie Gasque, Yoga Teacher, South Carolina, OM 500 TT 2015

    "Cyndi's skillful guidance lead me to a greater clarity of alignment based vinyasa.  The yoga combined with the charm of Lynchburg made the Sun Session an unforgettable experience."

  • Gina Callendar, Yoga Teacher, Yonkers, NY, OM 500 TT 2015

    "Cyndi truly follows the middle path and instills that in her teachings.  She combines disciple and humor to create an engaging, thought provoking and enlightening experience.  I had the pleasure of taking her 500 hour OM Yoga Teacher Training.  I have deepened my practice, work to continue challenge myself and never want to stop learning.  I am pretty comfortable teaching, but withCyndi’s guidance I am more confident in my hands-on adjustments and clarity of instruction with my students.  Thank you Cyndi for reinforcing my foundation, challenging me as a student and becoming my teacher.  I hope to continue to learn from you for many years to come.  Namaste."

  • Erica Settino, Founder, , Karuna for Animals

    "I have been teaching yoga for 12 years and over those 12 years I have often felt burned out and at a loss for inspiration. Now that I have taken Cyndi Lee’s OM 500 Teacher Training, I feel completely different, completely inspired, and so, so blessed. If you are even considering it, you must do it."

  • Donna Levenstien, Yoga Teacher, Lake George, NY

    "I am a student of the OM 200 and OM 500 TT. I keep learning from Cyndi Lee who is just a master teacher, every class I take, every hour I’m here she says something wonderful that I can bring into my life, onto my mat, into my classes with my students. As a teacher and a student, I feel enriched every time I’m with her and in her class."

  • Ann Megyas, Actor, Yoga Teacher, , Hospice Worker

    "I’m so glad I decided to take Cyndi Lee’s 500 hr TT. It advanced my personal practice in ways that I could not imagine. There is no pose I am afraid of anymore. It’s advanced my teaching practice, it’s advanced my dharma study. It’s just been a thrilling experience the whole time."