Mindfulness under the tree
By Tara Middleton
In our modern day society, popular mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation can sometimes be misshaped into another ‘hip’ trend or even a competitive workout fad. Unfortunately, this can result in a dilution of the deep richness behind the traditional practices that have, in fact, positively transformed many lives beyond the naked eye. However, after taking my first step onto the Hazyview campus of the Good Work Foundation, there was not a single doubt in my mind that the raw essence of yoga would, wholeheartedly, be embraced for what it is and what it’s meant to cultivate (if it hadn’t been, already). In all honesty, I promptly discovered that the eager group of aspiring Yogis within the GWF community had more to teach me than for me to teach them.
One month of union that will last a lifetime…
For 4 weeks, I was fortunate enough to volunteer and settle myself in Hazyview, where I could share my acquired knowledge of yoga, meditation and mindfulness with the remarkable GWF community and begin to integrate a comprehensive program across 5 of their campuses. In my time here, I was given the rewarding opportunity to teach, interact and immerse myself amongst a group that has innately revealed more about the deep, underlying roots of yoga than I could’ve ever imagined; A union of individuals, of staff, of students and of youth that has genuinely mastered the art of giving whilst also demonstrating an acceptance, leaps beyond the tangible and into the intricately woven web of the unseen.
Grateful is an understatement…
At GWF, I found a family, where the common human behaviors surrounding judgment, expectation, competition and incessant critique have nearly become extinct. The nature of authenticity, resilience and solidarity that permeates the culture within and the bona fide inner wisdom that shapes each and every individual truly blew my striped-Yogi socks off. From the get-go, I was confident that the various mindfulness practices I would pass on would be cherished and respected within the evolving cluster and continue to be distributed for generations to come.
I’ll never forget the day we first turned ourselves upside down and on our heads, throwing gravity for a total spin and through an unpredictable loophole. It was the perfect opportunity to tackle the ever-so-glorified ‘head-stand’ posture that many Yogis have come to know and love. The willingness to try once and the determination to try again. Not a single worry or doubt permeated the room. We tumbled, turned, flipped and fell. And then… did it all 2,3 or 4 more times. Each trial, no matter the outcome, surpassed the last. Through it all, not a single judgment of one’s own failures or of each other’s’ disrupted the inclusive atmosphere. A true example set for us all and even greater, the rest of humanity. The joy that diffused in every class and the contagious laughter that consistently erupted filled my heart with utter bliss. I thought, “And this is what ‘it’s’ all about. It’s what everything has always been about.”
A teaching experience that taught me the most…
My time and experiences, here were nothing short of extraordinary. The space, the people, the community, the lessons and most importantly, the laughs. All of it. As I sit and reflect on my time at GWF, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of appreciation. An appreciation to be able to call this special place a home and to share this transformational practice and rich philosophy in a receptive space, where a radiant energy and natural beauty bursts from every crevice… and from every being within it. Going in with the intention of establishing a yoga and mindfulness program across each of the unique GWF campuses and coming out having learned heaps more from the staff, the students and the youth I was guiding along the way. Honestly, I’m not sure what else I could’ve asked for. I feel like one lucky California girl.
From stepping foot into the Hazyview headquarters with anticipation on my first day, where I was greeted with beaming faces and surrounded by sensational energy, to concluding with a beautiful symphony of voices that expressed a genuine gratitude on my final day. And so, I left (until next time) with an experience that has undoubtedly, changed me forever. I am honored to be considered a part of the GWF family and to pass on a timeless practice within a diverse community that so effortlessly epitomizes the core of yogic philosophy: unconditional love and unwavering acceptance.
Tara Middleton visited GWF for 6 weeks over June & July. She guided every campus in a beautiful daily yoga practice, with patience, love and acceptance. To volunteer at Good Work Foundation, register your interest on our Contact Us page.