Less is More: The Art of Assisting
Lisa Taylor and Brandon Compagnone have been assisting Baron Baptiste for several years. If you've attended a Baptiste training, you may recognize them from one or several of your programs. They are powerful leaders in the community. This past weekend, they brought The Art of Assisting to Canada and shared their knowledge, experience and passion for assisting with over 80 participants. Over the course of three days, these people came together as a community to discover connection and put their learning into action. I sat down with Lisa and Brandon to chat about assisting and how their experiences have impacted them.Throughout the program, you encouraged participants to give up the idea that more is better and instead focus on doing as little as possible to have the biggest effect in their assisting. How has this idea of sometimes less is more changed how you assist and teach? LT: I shared with the group this weekend that I have what I call 'the perfect disease'. I have this need to get things right. One of the ways that this manifested in my teaching was that I was always keeping myself busy and needing to do more than necessary. What I’ve realized is that sometimes more is not better. Taking away all of the excess, calming down and getting present was so freeing for me but at the same time really scary. BC: You have to give up the excess. I've realized that there is a power out there that can do for me what I can't do for myself. Power moves through us, so we just have to be open vessels. To be open, you have to give up what you must. In a culture that is conditioned for excess everything we do revolves around this more is more idea when sometimes less is more. This is straight out of Journey into Power. The themes that came up this weekend are really just effects of a process unfolding, of yoga unfolding. You covered three different types of assists: Directive, Deepening and Empowering. Do you have a personal favourite? LT: For me, it's definitely empowering assists. They are the essence of less is more or do as little as possible to have the greatest effect. It’s the one, in my opinion, that has the student leave with a brand new learning and gives them the opportunity to have ownership of that learning. BC: I don’t want to pick a favourite! The one that I like to receive is deepening and awakening because I like being brought to a place that I can’t necessarily biomechanically get to on my own. It’s really connected to one of the principles of stepping up to the edge: to exceed yourself you have to find your exceeding self. So many of us are limited by our psychology. A good assist can help us break that mental patterning. What makes an assist powerful? LT: When a true connection between two people is had. BC: Presence, love and intention. How has your experience as an assistant at programs impacted you as a teacher and a person? LT: As an assistant I’ve had personal one-on-one training with some of the best teachers in the world, most especially including Baron. It’s been invaluable to me as a teacher. I’m completely 100% a different and a better teacher because of it. I don’t think that it’s a training that can be had any other way than assisting. What I found it really gave me was an ability to be present for long periods of time instead of flashes. As a person, I’ve been able to sit in the learning of Level One over and over again and hear so many people move through that process. It’s given me the opportunity to see many different angles of myself and the way that I check out or disempower myself. As a result, I have been able to empower myself. My life is unrecognizably different because of assisting. BC: It’s taught me how to meditate. It’s a feat to be on for 7 days straight, in our bodies and in the service of other people. I realized that it’s just an extension of what needs to happen in every single class that I teach. When you go from 7 days of training to a 90-minute class, it gives you more of a context to be able to be present. If you can do it for 7 days, it’ll give you a new integrity when you’re in the classroom as a teacher or an assistant. You have to immerse yourself in that space before you really become adept in it. The best classes that I teach aren’t done through knowledge or exertion. Is there effort? Yes: the effort to surrender. But it's not exertion. It’s a willingness to pick up on the subtle context of what’s going on around me and shape it. Whether I'm shaping a body or an experience, there’s a level of cause. I'm causing and creating the form. I'm causing and creating the condition. That’s how it’s changed my life. There’s a world out there that I can’t see with my regular sensual vision. If I tune my vision to my breath, I don’t have to do anything. That’s the whole yogic principle of non-doing. If you could give AOA participants one final piece of advice as they put their learning into action, what would it be? LT: Be courageous. BC: Practice. Practice. Practice!