Not all yoga instructors wear Lululemon pants. At least, that’s what David Gluck says.
Gluck, a Toronto-based Japa yoga instructor, and Subagh Singh Khalsa, director of the Mystic Heart Meditation Program, will team up in Week Seven to teach Chautauquans alternative practices designed to eliminate fear, a topic in alignment with Chautauqua’s morning lecture theme, “The Nature of Fear.”
Gluck’s sessions will be at 8:15 a.m. every day in the Presbyterian House Chapel and 4:45 p.m. Monday and Wednesday in Hurlbut Church. Khalsa’s sessions will be at 7:15 a.m. every day in the Presbyterian House Chapel and 4:45 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday in Hurlbut Church.
Not to fear. Gluck will be on the grounds during Weeks Seven through Nine teaching Japa yoga, a mantra meditation. This method utilizes a syllable or a sound meant to “evoke a certain energy.”
“When you’re engaged in a really good movie … and you’re sitting on the edge of the seat, you’re not thinking about sitting on the edge of the seat,” he said. “You’re not drifting about. You’re present, you’re there, you’re still. You’re not even aware that you’re watching the movie if the movie’s good enough. But you’re focused on it.”
Gluck said the same approach should be taken to the stillness of meditation. It’s a kind of transcending of the mind — “not to sound lofty or esoteric” — a way participants can think of the singular focus required for a peaceful state.
There’s no “discursive chatter” surrounding any function.
Some Eastern traditions like Japa use methods similar to Catholicism’s rosary.
“There’s a different kind of function with memory growing up (in Catholicism) and doing a long prayer, and there’s this whole thing about getting the prayer inside of you, having to go through that whole thing,” Gluck said.
Japa meditation, on the other hand, connects only one or two words to a breath, repeating these over and over.
Gluck connects to the meditation for this reason — attempting visualization and breath-only meditation frustrated him when he first explored possible practices. To even recognize that he was breathing was a strange concept for Gluck.
Japa meditation was the perfect discovery — no “esoteric lands, no imagining anything, no conjuring or creating anything” necessary.
By building a simple “sense of spaciousness,” participants in Japa yoga can abandon the reactionary mode with which they usually approach trials. The meditation allows the practitioner to tone down their “animalistic reactions” and, in turn, drop the fear associated with them.
During Gluck’s first week, he wants to give people the chance to respond, as opposed to just listening to his knowledge of the practice.
“I love talking about all of these things, but you have to do it,” he said. “There’s a huge difference between riding your bike down a hill and talking about riding your bike down a hill.”
Khalsa is looking forward to Gluck’s active and youthful presence as part of the weekly sessions.
Similar to Gluck’s classes, Khalsa’s teachings will center in on everyday anxieties common in regular life.
“Fear, as we will be examining it, is usually not terror, but rather the more everyday states of shyness, insecurity, avoidance of difficult situations, procrastination and so on,” Khalsa said. “We all have some of this, and if we aren’t aware of the emotion and able to confront it in a gentle and healing way, it can remain in place in our psyche.”
The longer people hold onto these fears, the more “committed” to their fears they may become, which, in turn, leads to a much narrower view of possibilities.
Khalsa plans to lead his sessions with methods for erasing, or at least decreasing, some of these anxieties.
“Everything we do in relation to fear could also be applied to greed, pride, anger or other negative emotions,” he said, “so I anticipate that everyone will reap some real benefit.”