Using Imagery & Other Topics: Wise Word Choice

Images Illicit Strong Associations

Words carry vibrations. Images illicit strong associations. We can shape feelings and energies by tapping into the artistic quality of language and inner vision. – Taylor Harkness

Explanations vs. Metaphors

As Roshi Joan Sutherland says, “Explanations settle things, put an end to the journey, which is sometimes a great relief and sometimes premature. Metaphors connect one thing to another, often in new ways, and the journey veers off in unexpected directions.”

Our bodies are like shorelines that receive the ocean of the infinite.  Every moment is a wave of aliveness, punctuated by breath, movement, and life potency. In just the way the ocean works on the shore, the infinite works on us with endless repetition and opportunity. We are re-sculpted by every movement we make, especially those movements that are done with attention and intention. Body as shoreline, body receiving the ocean of the infinite, is not a fix-it prescription. It is an open invitation for imagination to explore the body in ways that are not predetermined by experience. – Denise Benitez

Free to Explore

When you give a metaphoric direction like “broaden your collarbones,” you leave your student free to explore what that means in their body. There does have be some specific direction about alignment, but at the same time, there also has to be room and space for exploration and for fun. That gives students a chance to learn on their own. – Jodie Rufty

More Examples

Our students love the refinement of language we bring to our classes. Currently in my classes, I’ve set myself the challenge of articulating how heaven and earth live in the body. Here are some ideas to sense into: just as you fall into earth with gravity, fall to the sky with rebound. Let your upper heart fall to the sky. Instead of aggression, allow lightness to open you. And so on. These cues so often happen in the moment and are then gone forever. Except for the resonance they leave in your body/mind/heart which can echo through a lifetime. – Denise Benite

Reading: Using the Word “God”

Don’t Get Into An “Either/Or” State Of Mind

Here’s a perspective that I hope will help: Don’t get into an “either/or” state of mind. It’s not a choice between using a God-oriented affirmation or using no affirmation at all. Nor is it a matter of “I’m into God” or “I’m not into God” — for you or your students. Rather, it’s a matter of direction: we’re all moving toward our own divine potential — consciously or unconsciously — and an Ananda Yoga teacher’s job is to help students move along their own paths. That means being sensitive to where they are and what they can relate to right now. If this means modifying an affirmation, then do so in such a way as to match the spirit of the original… For some people, “God” is too big a step. For others, “God” is the next step… Students will progress spiritually through their practice, even if you don’t emphasize the spiritual. Sooner or later, they’ll be ready for a “head on” approach to the Self, ready to experience more of the heart of yoga. Stay alert for that time so you can help them have that experience, help them draw upon the real power within them: the power of God. – Gyandev McCord

See also: Ishvara Pranidhana