April 13, 2024

KotE YTT 2024 – Reflections, Musings and Contemplations

Hello friends. Grant here, coming in to share of my personal musings and reflections from this year’s (2024) 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Keepers of the Earth.

I’ll start by saying how incredible it has been to bring this training to a new location: up in the Chirripo mountain range of Costa Rica. To spend 25 days nestled at the base of the tallest peak in Central America, far removed from the ordinary “world”, and to focus our attention and energy towards the cultivation of awareness and a comprehension of the cosmos  … this has been a long-standing dream of mine that has come into fruition.

Allotting this amount of time — a little more than 3 weeks — to be completely immersed in the study of just about anything is enough time to provide real and lasting changes to the personality. Part of what makes the “immersive experience” so valuable, I think, is that we remove ourselves from the “ordinary” and step into a liminal space of possibility and potentiality. This is explained and correlated to Joseph’s Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. When we no longer have all the normal stuff of our everyday lives to attend to, we can focus on something bigger or greater than the “normal” life busy-ness and, ultimately re-define ourselves and our path. This is not something that is easy or simple; it requires a tremendous amount of courage and willingness to even step through the threshold and “leave home” in the first place.

When this process is accompanied by spiritual study & practice, we can start to understand the mechanics of what is a transformative process. How DO we change, and why would we want to? What is changing? What is transforming? How does this stuff work?

One of the main things we do during the KotE YTT is become aware of what I am speaking to. In my experience, a practitioner’s ability to align themselves with destiny is dependent on how well they can separate themselves from the extremely convincing illusions of the mind & personality and become objectively aware of WHAT they are doing, and WHY they are doing it. This relates to everything in life. If we can learn to separate ourselves, even more a moment, from our tendencies and reactions, we can become in tune with a far bigger creative impulse that is emerging from within us. This creative impulse is inherent to all beings: it is the energy of Creation and it moves through everything. However, as humans with a personality and an ego, we are often experiencing a constant juxtaposition with this “force”. Sometimes, we might know what we need to do, and yet we are unable to do it. Why? This is interesting to observe. Firstly, to feel that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way and to acknowledge that there is a form of intelligence functioning inside of us that is discerning,…. this is interesting. Secondly, to experience that we may have difficulty with following through with our own inner knowing… this is also interesting. The last thing that I find absolutely fascinating is that, when we DO follow through with our inner knowing, and the Universe opens its doors to us, we end up in a completely new and exciting space, as if we’ve liberated ourselves from the “old”. I think that this is how transformation works. After all, trans-formation is the change of one state to another. This isn’t accidental and it’s not merely a metaphysical concept. It is a real phenomenon embedded in the fabric of the cosmos and as humans we are living it out in our lives constantly. Keepers of the Earth was founded as and has become community centered around the understanding of this phenomenon, as I believe that when we start to come in tune with this larger creative force, we can start to re-write history and ultimately restore the balance & harmony needed for life to evolve in a beneficial way.

For many people, it is difficult to separate from the illusions of the mind. In spiritual & mystical traditions, it is understood that the mind is both the creator and destroyer of our reality. That is to say that we create through our perceptions, and we can also change or “destroy” our perceptions and create new ones to replace them. This is how things end up changing. If and when we re-write our beliefs, including and especially the core beliefs related to our cultural, societal, or familial heritage, we are able to literally see a different world than before. As we learn to see differently, our behavior changes, and as our behaviors change, we create entirely different outcomes in the world. The cliche phrase from spiritual master Gandhi “be the change you wish to see in the world” is fitting here. However, easier said than done.

All that we believe is, in some way, enmeshed into our personality structure. The personality & ego is a neurological mechanism which has been designed to stabilize the infinite mystery of the cosmos into a sort of “structure” that we can then relate to through our bodies and minds. The body and nervous system are a house for the spiritual force of life to come into existence. After all, we have evolved over millions of years of evolutionary biology, and our survival as a species is tied to several core functions — stay alive, avoid dying, and mate to pass on our genetics. Which means that we have many primal and also extremely intelligent “programs” functioning inside of us to ensure that we can do this. If this were not the case, we would have perished long ago. These “programs” are influencing everything we do, say, and become as human beings in this lifetime. Our ability to adopt new attitudes and beliefs about life so that we can optimize our subjective experience of reality is part of these evolutionary forces. We are not meant to perish, nor are we meant to suffer — not according to the spiritual traditions. In fact, the final goal of existence and the “point” of “all of this”, is to realize our true essence; to not identify solely with the ego and personality structure but to be able to expand our awareness so that it encompasses all of life. After all, we share One Consciousness… but we appear as little individual bubbles of life within that One Consciousness. There is a fascinating paradox and juxtaposition that is happening here, and this is precisely where the spiritual journey begins. HOW do I align myself as an apparent individual with the bigger picture of life? What sort of beliefs, attitudes and ways of being are actually in alignment with the Highest Self?

The great tradition of Yoga — our main focus during the KotE YTT — gives us a lot of information related to these questions. However, this is all mere information. Unless and until this information is embodied in the individual, we can pretend to “know” about the Oneness of existence, and yet our subjective experience of life remains as it is. When we operate from the individualistic awareness that is the ego-personality, we are operating from what is ultimately a limited belief system. We end up driven by selfish motivations and pursue our self-interest as the end-all, be-all of life. This is a dead end. The pleasures we seek in this life end up a temporary relief from the existential crisis we face; the relationships, the experiences, and the path we follow all relate to our personality as an individual instead of our true essence. It is maddening, and to wake up to realize this truth instead of burying our head in the sand is quite a lot to handle, at least initially. This is why it is so important to have the right sangha, or community, the right practice(s), and the right understanding (or View as it is known in Tantra) in order to navigate the Path of Self-Awareness. As we cultivate Self-Awareness, we learn to separate our mental processes from a far more objective and “true” Reality. This is the distinction between spiritual life and mundane life. In mundane life, we are completely immersed in the duality of existence: you are you, and I am I, and this is what I want, and this is what you want, and we need to work together to figure out how to get our needs met. In spiritual life, you and me, and I am you, and WE want what WE both want, and we work together to uplift each other and discover how to achieve our mutual desires. Of course, this is a spectrum that we all life on, and the spiritual principles of yoga are to be revealed in every life regardless of a person’s “spiritual” understanding. What I mean by that is we are functioning in both “realities”, mundane and spiritual, simultaneously. The difference is that the spiritual person has a comprehension of the underlying unity of things and is actively working to bring about the manifestation of this unity in their lives. A person with little or no spiritual awareness is in a constant battle and struggle to merely survive. There is no room for creativity or inspiration in this person’s life. As one progress spiritually, they step outside of this existential struggle for survival and into a magical and mystical reality of unity, harmony, and cosmic order. This is difficult to explain but may be intuited by those reading. To achieve this result, practice is required, as practice is the primary tool in a spiritual aspirant’s arsenal which allows them to purify their mindbody of the blockages of energy in their system. Hence, Yoga as both a study and a practice.

So, myself and 10 individuals spent several weeks studying & practicing exactly these things.  I was extremely impressed by the levels of devotion, sincerity, curiosity, and willingness that each person demonstrated during our time together. We just had our group integration call the other day, a month since the completion of the program. I was able  to feel & see everyone’s light, and I was reminded of the work we had done together and how that continues to ripple out. I am reminded of the value of what we are doing and the purpose of this Path. It is difficult to put into words. I feel inspired by the trajectory and arc of the journey of Keepers of the Earth, and I feel deeply grateful to be riding the dragon that is KotE. “It” — KotE, that is — is so much bigger than me. I’m just doing my best to hold on and steer “It” along with the utmost respect, humility, and sincerity. We are dealing with living spiritual traditions that require devotion to uphold and preserve. Each person who feels the call and dedicates themselves to this is adding their spiritual life-force to the eternal stream of Truth-seekers from every generation, time and place. People who are determined to bring light into this world. This is no small feat, and we need all the help we can get. I feel grateful to have found others who want to walk this path with me and are willing to do what it takes to re-write the stories of our past so that we can step forward into a beautiful future, together. Good job everybody, and God bless you all.

Looking forward to 2025.

-GI