February 14, 2012

The Aftermath.

It’s been a couple of days, and many thoughts are swirling around in my head.

After the searing intensity of the 10 days between the publication of jfexposed.com and my resignation, things have settled down a bit. Now I am working on two fronts: trying to offer support to those in my community who are grappling with these events, and trying to get back to normal in my personal life.

Behind my eyes, there is a third front: the attempt within myself to come to terms with these events.

1. The Betrayal Thing

You must understand, two weeks ago I thought I was going to die an Anusara yoga teacher. I had committed to the method with the same degree of intensity that I committed to my marriage. I am a deeply loyal person, to a fault. Two weeks ago, if you had said to me, “Hey Emma, what if John Friend does something really awful? Would that be enough to make you leave Anusara yoga?” I would have replied, “Hell no! Anusara yoga is more than one person, it’s a whole community and a methodology!”

However, here’s the problem I ran up against: the bus is awesome. The people on the bus are awesome. But there is only one driver. Legally, nobody has any right to wrest the wheel from the driver. It doesn’t matter how many people stand up in their seats and call out to the driver. While the fellowship among the passengers is beautiful and meaningful, it will not do anything to remove the driver. And the driver…has problems.

Two weeks ago, I did not realize the extent of the driver’s problems.

In the wake of my resignation, I got a few messages from people who feel betrayed by my decision. I understand completely. If I hadn’t seen and heard with my own eyes what I saw and heard, I would also feel baffled and betrayed. In fact, that’s how I felt when my own good friends resigned a few months ago.

I understand completely, and I say to you: out of love for our amazing method, our wonderful community, I gave this situation everything, everything I had. It broke my heart to leave my friends and get off the bus. But when I weighed the severing of my legal relationship with Anusara against the destruction of a part of my soul, I had to choose the former.

2. The Conflagration

It’s hard for me to convey the horrifying rapidity and intensity of the events during “The Ten Days” (I know, it’s melodramatic. But this situation is the biggest melodrama I have ever seen) between the publishing of the accusations and the beginning of the Miami workshop.

When I think of it, the images that come to mind pertain to fire. During that time, a small group of us worked together to share information, develop consensus, formulate responses, absorb the effects of our responses, reality-check our reactions, consider the very immediate future, and peer into the more distant future.

It was a time of frantic phone calls and emails, disturbing revelations and extreme pressure. Pressure from without, as we tried to process our exchanges with John and our wider community, and pressure from within, as each of us looked into our hearts to face some deeply disturbing truths and ask some very hard questions. There was no time to contemplate, or sit with, or meditate on, or give space to, this situation. Why was there no time? Because dreadful accusations had been made, so dreadful that they required an immediate rejoinder. Because our whole community was waiting, and waiting and waiting for some sign, some indication of how to respond, what to think.

Justin Morgan

In this blazing crucible, I slept maybe three hours a night. Exhausted from 21-hour days of emails and phone calls, plunging vertiginously between hope and despair, I would fall into bed and stare into the darkness, unable to close my eyes. Why was I in despair? Because I love Anusara, and I loved John Friend, and I felt that our current course led into chaos, adharma, ethical degeneration and destruction.

What was I hoping for? I was hoping that the driver would recognize he was lost and receive some input on the route. The beautiful souls on the bus were banding together, communing, baring their hearts, making plans. As I said in my last post, I’ve never, ever been prouder of the Anusara community than I was during The Ten Days.

I am a 35-year-old woman. I have no children. I have been blessed with a relatively easy middle-class life in America in the 20th century. My parents were educated. My family loves me. I have a fabulous job and a deep relationship with a loving husband. I must say that as a human being, I haven’t suffered much in my life. The agony of those Ten Days burned away a part of my being forever. Why was it agony? Because I saw that there was, at the heart of something I cherished and worked at for my entire adult life, a grotesque and disturbing pattern.

Laurel L. Ruswwurm

3. The Jump

You all know the quote: “In order to live, you must be willing to die.” And variations.

Resigning my certification feels like dying. Here’s how it felt when I was making the decision, like a dream: I am running through an inferno to save my child. As I run, the flames get hotter and hotter, burning away my clothes, my flesh, and my bones. My child is gone and all I have left is my soul. Ahead of me appears a cliff. The cliff offers respite from the flames but fear, fear of death. I know in my heart that if I stay in the fire, my soul will be consumed. I jump….

I haven’t landed yet. It’s only been two days.

Some of the people that were running with me jumped too. Those who remain are doing vital work. I admire them so much. Theirs was a route I couldn’t take, but I love them so dearly. I know ho hard they are working to save a child we all love.

For those of us who jumped, a part of us had to die to go on living. In the end, we could not sacrifice our Selves on the altar of Anusara yoga.

Love and blessings to all. I promise I will have lighter, more optimistic things to say in the future.

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