St-Barth Summer Camp Yoga Challenge and Yoga University
July 15-August 15, 2017
Le Barthélemy Hotel
The theme of the St. Barth Summer Camp Yoga Challenge’s 9th edition is “RAISE THE GAZE’.
What is a gaze?
In the yogic tradition, it is ‘drishti’, which is at once where we cast our attention during poses or meditation, but also, how our attention, carefully placed and mindfully chosen, supports our intention.
It is seeing, but also what we see. Our filters, biases and belief systems affect how we look out on the world, and as we change our minds, we change our worlds.
On a deeper level, it uncovers an understanding of who is looking. Who is the witness, the “I” that sees?
The yoga poses are like physical envelopes that allow a more subtle intelligence to express itself. These asanas provide an architectural structure, an anatomical space from which to look at ourselves, life and each other. But, without self-awareness or intention, they are merely empty structures.
They also provide an invitation for discovery and a way to move through the unknown.
How do we see ourselves as we move through time and space?
How do we see ourselves as we shed former versions of our physicality, our mind, and our emotions, as we continue to grow into newer phases of our own becoming?
What does our own evolution look like? How do we live? How do we age? How do we die?
These are the questions we will be examining close-up throughout this Summer Camp.
Sometimes, an internal gaze is stuck on a definition we once used for ourselves and which we never knew to update. Maybe it was defined by a traumatic event, a loss, a death. Maybe, we have a hard time seeing ourselves as we age.
Maybe it was defined by previous accomplishments and the contextual pins upon which those accomplishments relied. Maybe our gaze was defined by how others saw us, one we constantly tried to live up to or become.
Whether that seeing corresponded or not to how we feel ourselves to be, then or now, there is deep value in befriending our truest self, warts and all.
The gaze, as it is updated, dusted off, brought back into the present moment, this moment, pushes us towards our deep vulnerabilities and our strengths. The gaze cultivates our vulnerability because it may challenge the images we cling to, asking us to loosen self-cherishing. It explains why and how we continue to treat ourselves as a fixed object, and not through the prism of our ever-changing and ever-emerging multidimensional selfhood.
The gaze asks that we reset our attention not to what has been, a past that we rummage through, or the projections and expectations we place on life, but with what is arising now, be it comfortable or uncomfortable at any given moment. It moves us past old narratives.
The gaze, as we purify it and clear out the debris, brings us to a place where we can simply see things as they are.
And in this, there is strength. In this, there is courage.
We can see our weaknesses with a greater honesty and our gifts and unique skills and passions with a greater sense of authenticity, ownership and joy.
Finally, the gaze, as it becomes mindful, intentional, and at peace with life-as-is, allows us to make choices that add meaning, content and purpose to the choices we make : how we eat, how we sleep, how we practice, how we change, how we grow, how we communicate and connect.
We begin to break free of coping mechanisms and pre-used strategies to find how we can seize the opportunities that life is constantly extending us, even through situations or challenges that we perceive as painful.
Patanjali, the academically- disputed father of yoga and the author of the Yoga Sutras, central to the practice, development and understanding of yoga practice and philosophy, was quoted to have given this powerful initiative for undertaking the quest of self-discovery and awareness.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
I invite you to join me and the St. Barth Summer Camp community as we spend time in that place of self-discovery.
I am thrilled to welcome you, each and all, on our yearly summer sojourn as we raise our sights, renew our perspectives, and learn to see with greater care, equanimity, wisdom and responsibility.
Creator of St. Barth Summer Camp Yoga Challenge