Like many men, I had been taught from boyhood to be independent, to think for myself, to make my own decisions, etc. – all good qualities, without question. But as someone who also felt a desire for spiritual growth, these same ideas often came into conflict with the concepts of devotion, reverence, humility, trust and similar requirements of many teachings.
In a recent discussion with a group of men, all of whom had various spiritual or religious practices, we all remarked about how few men participated in their practice, compared to women. One reason given was that so many men are taught to “go it alone,” or “find your own way.” The thought of reaching out for help, admitting that one needed advice or guidance from others is very difficult for many men. The therapists in this group also noted that this was likely the same reason that most of their clients were women.
My path to Higher Self Yoga was a long and winding one, but it could have been short and direct had I not chosen to resist for many years. I was extremely blessed to have discovered Agni Yoga in 1970 at age 24, and to have been a student of Ralph Houston, the spiritual teacher of Nanette Hucknall, founder of Higher Self Yoga.
When Higher Self Yoga classes were first being formed over twenty years ago, I could have easily jumped right in and become part of the core group. But I didn’t. There were many reasons, mostly having to do with my own personal issues, but there were some aspects of Higher Self Yoga that put me off.
First, there was the emphasis on psychological work. This was a new element for a spiritual teaching. Besides, I had done years of therapy and didn’t need any more, thank you. I also didn’t think much of how the classes and lessons were structured, with group discussions, often about personal issues. And finally, you had to have a buddy! For me—the idea of getting on the phone—something I avoid whenever possible and talking about your issues and then listening to someone else talk about theirs, was unthinkable.
But about eight years ago something changed. After knocking on many doors, reading many books, searching but still feeling something missing, I had a series of dreams in which it became clear that in order to really grow spiritually, I needed a loving teacher and a supportive community. And, it turned out, they had been right in front of me the whole time.
I now find the Higher Self Yoga techniques, which I had so strongly dismissed, to be immensely powerful. I have experienced tremendous personal and spiritual growth and feel that I am constantly moving forward, striving towards greater consciousness, feeling more connected to the world, opening my heart and becoming a better person all the time.