Rolf Gates’ Wisdom

On Sunday, I had the good fortune to attend a workshop with Rolf Gates at Soul Space Yoga. Rolf has been doing this for years—teaching souls how to create space through a vigorous vinyasa practice and meditation—so it was second nature to him. He had no notes with him, just a harmonium and good posture. I, like many of the other people in attendance, had to center myself in order to find the equilibrium between feeling completely “starstruck” and recognizing that he’s exactly like me.

While it would be impossible to put into writing the enormous impact he had on all of us, my two biggest take-aways from his workshop were related to family and mindfulness.

Of family, he said: “Taste life directly. Don’t let the uncle tell you what to wear.” This quote (intentionally taken out-of-context) reminds us to make our own decisions, especially when we are guided by our intuition. Practicality is a creature of habit…and the uncle who tells us to wear a smart part of shoes is definitely practical. Listening to the uncle may be smart and safe, but is it what truly makes YOU come alive?

Regarding mindfulness, Rolf told us a story about sitting at the top of a ledge and watching the habits of wild animals in the Costa Rican jungle. At dawn, he observed a flock of birds followed by a herd of mammals. Each group came and went, following a very similar pattern day after day. “Mindfulness is just watching the patterns of the jungle in our minds. Ohhh, this is when the resentment [animals] come by, this is when the desire [birds] come by…” It was quite possibly the best way to describe how meditation works. We don’t ever need to silence our true nature. We simply have to sit, observe, and become aware of our patterns.

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