Mina Semyon was born in 1938 in the Soviet Union. She has been teaching Yoga for over 30 years. She was a student and friend of R.D.Laing, psychiatrist, poet, musician and spiritual teacher who initiated her on the path of awareness through the practice of Yoga and mindfulness. This, combined with an insistence of finding her authentic voice through the study of singing and sound with Anthea Parashchak, has led to her unique way of teaching.
In the process of transcending her harsh Russian childhood, what has evolved is a way of practising and teaching which incorporates our whole being – emotional, mental, physical and spiritual, in daily life and relationships. Her aim is to liberate the mind and body of everything that obscures the spirit of joy, love, compassion, spontaneity and playfulness.
Mina appeared in the BBC television series and book Every Body Knows and the Yoga book Body Life written by her ex-husband Arthur Balaskas. She is currently working on her life story You Don’t Have to Die of Disappointment and has recently been appointed to the faculty of the International R D Laing Institute based in Switzerland.
You can buy The Distracted Centipede from Trafford Publishing
Excerpts from The Distracted Centipede
Love thy neighbour as thyself
‘Love is letting the other be, but with concern and affection.’
‘All a sane man can ever care about is giving love.’
What really makes a difference to me is whether you listen to me with an open heart, acknowledging that fundamentally we are in the same boat; that we feel empathy for each other and that we can meet in our aloneness and companionship. Then we might find joy in our hearts. We are companions on the way, spiritual friends who are not trying to outsmart one another by our wit, intellect, and ‘power clothes’ or prove, ‘I am right and you are wrong’.
If we can admit our vulnerability we can have a good laugh at our predicament, how precarious our existence and what a joke that we are trying to hide it from ourselves and each other, rather than getting on with whatever it is we are doing, simply, from the heart. Our wits would become sharper and what a celebration there would be if all of us humans, can you imagine would just drop hanging on to our puny identities, and have a song and dance.
This is what I understand by ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ … to wish other people what you wish for yourself … the gift of effortless being, in harmony with the laws of life, and with love in our hearts.
Ease comes from not having to pretend at all.
‘If you take umbrage at every rub how will you become a polished mirror?’
In Yiddish umbrage, a sense of slight or injury, is called ‘farible’. In my childhood everyone was always keeping a ‘farible’. No wonder everyone was always complaining of ailments, akh, akh my back, oy, oy, my knees’. How can your body relax if it’s full of faribles?
I believe that our task on this earth is to become loving, open and joyful human beings capable of celebrating life. For that we need to clear our physical and emotional channels of accumulated dross, outmoded beliefs and cliche expectations.
‘But we know that the leopard doesn’t change its spots.’ This statement is an illustration of the cliches we carry inside us, without realising how trapped we are by them. People don’t change because it takes courage and humility to accept ourselves as we are, which is the starting point.
In the evening
Think back over the day, looking at the events and your own behaviour with as much honesty as you can muster, admitting mistakes and determining to correct them. Don’t get stuck in regret; rather appreciate the lessons learnt from experience. We do inner work to become clear, but when clarity comes, it also reveals the things we don’t like to see about ourselves. We have to remember that without seeing our shortcomings we can’t begin to change them, so we eat some humble pie, acknowledge our transgressions and the pain they caused to others and ourselves, and hopefully don’t repeat the same mistake. If we do make the same mistakes, which we do, we start all over again; acknowledge, accept, release, and let go.