Maranda Pleasant: Baron, why do you do what you do? You’ve created such an amazing life and impacted so many people. What is it that motivates you?
Baron Baptiste: Yeah, that is a really good question. I think two things. Firstly, I love people. I love relating to people and interacting with people in a positive way. In a way that empowers them, that makes the difference for them, and what’s important to them and their heart, in their health, and well-being. That’s one and then the second part of it for me is what I’ve come to realize in my own experience. It’s really through other people that I also get to keep evolving within myself, and as a human being, on every front. It reminds me of a story. Someone asked Gandhi, they said, “Gandhiji, if you want to be with God so badly why don’t you go live in a Himalayan cave?” He replied, “If I thought God was up in a Himalayan cave, I would go there immediately.” Then he said, “But I believe my God and my truth gets found in other people and in the heart of humanity. My place is in working with people and with humanity, and the freedom of people.” So likewise, I see it’s really through relationships and working with people, and in an empowering kind of context that I too get to grow and expand as a human being, and expand my practice of yoga.
MP: What has been one of your biggest struggles in this life?
BB: It has probably boiled down to balance. Both the balance in work and being in the world fully. You know, following my heart and what inspires me. Again, that’s working with people, being out there in the world with people, contributing, and relating to people. But then also having my kids—my three sons at home and having a relationship with my kids. Balancing those two realms of work and life’s purpose through work and also fulfilling being really a fully present father with my kids, for my kids. And then to meditate somewhere in the balance has been my greatest struggle. I’ve come face to face with my own internal struggle when one of those things dominates too much. That’s where I find I get confronted with struggle.
MP: What has been the thing that you’ve had to overcome the most, coming forward and leading large groups of people? This is your calling. You’re impacting people on a global scale now. Was there something you had to face before you could step into this bigger position, this bigger role?
BB: Yeah. It’s been more an evolution of a certain way of being. Whether it’s in leadership, or as a teacher, or a place out there on the planet in evolution—it’s not something I prepared for first and then went out and did it. I often say I kind of grew up out in the classroom, wherever the classroom was for me. Life is a classroom and all my different teachers’ teaching environments all over the planet have been my classroom. I’ve been growing up there, but I think the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome is my concern for what people think about me, people’s judgements, people maybe not understanding what I’m up to or representing or teaching. So probably the biggest thing has been the fear of looking bad in the eyes of people; being judged or not accepted. I had to learn to give that up. It’s been a practice of letting that go and follow what is true in my heart. “To thine own self be true,” and then just as the night follows the day, can it no way be false to another person. Following what’s in my heart and being true to that. Some people will love it and respect it, relate to what I have to share, and others maybe not. Maybe it shows up as a form of judgement. Giving up judgement and being out there taking risks in the face of criticism.
MP: Keeping an open heart but a thick skin is tricky sometimes.
BB: Yeah, I love that. That’s well said.
MP: In your heart, when do you feel the most vulnerable, in your life?
BB: I think where I get the most vulnerable or where I feel the most vulnerable is in the relationship I have with my kids, and in being a dad. The sense of not knowing. Am I screwing it all up? How am I doing? There’s no manual for being a parent and there’s no one way to being a parent. Knowing that I’m doing my very very best, giving my full-heartedness to supporting them, empowering my kids to have a great life and a foundation or platform for life, but then also knowing in certain ways it feels like I’m failing. It can be a very vulnerable experience for me. I know this because I’m giving my very best, the best I can possibly do at something, and not sure that I’m doing that good of a job. It leaves me with a kind of vulnerability that happens just with the unknown.
MP: Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you for opening. How do you feel it’s changed you, being a father? I know it’s kind of a cliché question. A lot of fathers say it was a big shift for them as a man. Do you feel like it’s shifted you and shaped you a lot differently than if you maybe didn’t have kids? It sounds more cliché the more I talk…
BB: One thing I see is that before I had kids, my life was organized or oriented around me. Just me, myself, and I. Even my yoga practice or being in my life in general is very me-centered. I think the big kind of rattling once I had kids was there was a level of self sacrifice or just opening my eyes to woah, I am responsible for someone else. So I think I went from me-centered to other-people-centered. That’s been one of the greatest lessons or gifts that I’ve gotten out of being a father. That shift out of me-centered and my world opening up to being other-centered. Prior to kids, it was a blind spot or just not on my radar—not in my awareness.
MP: What do you feel is the biggest thing you’ve had to sacrifice with having children?
BB: It’s not so obvious, because I’ve wanted to be a parent. I’ve wanted to be a dad. I love being there, being present with my kids. I think I sacrificed a lot, but because it’s pretty primary for me to just want to be there with them, I don’t even know what I’m sacrificing. I know I’m sacrificing a lot of other things I could be doing or pursuing, but my eyes aren’t over there so much.
MP: That’s so beautiful. I know that you co-founded the Africa Yoga Project. Do you think that having kids opened your heart for more compassion for these children?
BB: Yeah, definitely. They’re correlated. I think that in being a father and having my own kids and then working. When I first went to Africa in 2009, the training with the group of young people there, I realized—something came to light for me when in Kenya the young people there were so hungry for opportunity and for possibility in their lives. I realized that they do live in poverty and on a material level they have nothing, or near to nothing. What is really at the core to what inspires me and how this related suddenly to all kids, including my own kids, is that what I saw was a deep hunger, yearning for possibility in their life; something that gave them hope to live for into the future—a purpose to live—that more was possible in their life. Not necessarily more money or more material things, but just the possibility of having a life where they can experience connection with other people, and contribution with other people starting with their own families and out into their communities. I see that with my own kids. We live in the west in America; they can easily take so much for granted and we have just so much material stuff that we have access to. But I realize with my own kids there’s no difference from the kids in Africa who have no material means. In all of our hearts and in the heart of all kids or children, you recognize things that they want and we want is a sense of possibility in life. Like the sense of hope; something you’re growing into. It inspires you and finding that creative connection in yourself, being connected to the creative source in yourself, is very enlivening, uplifting, and life-giving, and it changes a human being. So for a young person to have hope and a sense of possibility in their life, whether they’re in America, the west, or Africa, there’s something common there. I think that has fueled me or informed me, empowered me, to recognize that as a parent with my own kids and working with the kids in Kenya with the Africa Yoga Project or anywhere. The hope and possibility—without that is the greatest poverty.
MP: Thank you so much Baron. Is there any other thing that’s on your heart? In this awesome crazy time of transformation when people are healing and expanding—is there anything on your heart that you’d like to say?
BB: You know, I’ll just say this: to me, a great gift that I’m repeatedly getting in my own life is the gift of affirmation, of just what great things are possible as a human being, and it’s in our connection with others. For anyone who is having a sense of not knowing what they want to do with their life, or they don’t have a sense of purpose in their life, or they’re really feeling stuck in their life, or discontent, to really just get outside of yourself and start connecting with others in positive ways and contributing with others, being in the action of it and in the conversation of it—that generates energy in us and brings us to a place of fulfillment. To me, that’s a gift that we all get for being for each other in positive ways.
MP: What would you say to the person right now that is on the floor and in so much emotional pain? Whatever it is. A divorce or some sort of loss. Are there any words that you would offer?
BB: Feel what you need to feel and do what you need to do. In feeling is great healing. Feeling the grief or the despair or the pain, feel what you need to feel, but also do what you need to do that is fulfilling a purpose for yourself that is bigger than yourself—bigger than your life, bigger than all of us. Some kind of purpose. Get into the doing of that. And so feel what you need to feel and do what you need to do that’s in alignment with what you’re up to in the bigger sense of your life.
MP: Very last one. How is it that you process your own pain, Baron? When you have it come in. How do you deal with it when it comes in?
BB: I allow myself to feel it. Be with it. Be and let be. It’s in being that, in my experience, that I get access to a new pathway. So total acceptance, feeling, being, and then letting that energy transform into a new opening; a new vision, a new opportunity, a new pathway.
MP: Okay, so the very last one. I was taking a class and the instructor had this wonderful Baptiste shirt on and it said act as if. What does that mean to you? I thought that was so powerful. I wanted to know what that means to you.
BB: Yeah, pretty simple: act as if. Act as if you are whole, and complete and perfect. Because you already are. Just act as if you are whole and complete and perfect and nothing’s missing.
MP: Wow, nothing’s missing. Thank you so much. And what do you have coming up the rest of this year? Do you have trainings? Do you have big stuff coming up for the rest of 2012?
BB: Yeah. You know, really exciting trainings I do. Different levels of training. Level one is a foundational training and in Baptiste Yoga it’s a week of training that I do. Then an upper-level training—level two, a level three, these are weeks that I’m training. And then in Park City, Utah, I have in September a weekend for foundations and action. I love it. It’s a weekend where—I don’t know if you’ve been to Park City, Utah, in summer or in September—it’s just so beautiful up there. So I do weekend training programs with groups. I just love that type of thing, ‘cause in a weekend or a week-long environment we really go deeper and really immerse ourselves in the practice, in an inquiry, in meditation, and really cause a personal revolution in our practice and in ourself.
Powered by Facebook Comments