The Symbol of a Talking Stick

Sandra Vandenhoff (left), an audiologist who wears a cochlear implant to assist with her hearing loss, reflects upon her time in the Yoga Development Course (YDC) using group microphones. She quickly learned how her technology became a positive symbol.

I’ve had progressive hearing loss since preschool. By the time I graduated from high school, my hearing loss was profound. Hearing loss inspired me to study audiology. It’s been a real gift, in that it is a source of many life lessons.

Going in to the YDC, I was concerned about the impact of the microphones on people’s spontaneity. I’d had situations before where I didn’t feel a part of the group. That’s how I entered – what’s going to happen? I wasn’t sure.

From the first night, the people in the class started to tune into what I needed. It was incredible. People were so accommodating. Somebody said, “This microphone is a symbol: it means I have the floor, so it’s my turn to talk.” Others said it meant a lot to them, like a talking stick. It became obvious to me that it just wasn’t for me – it was for the group too; that made it easier.

About going back home, one YDC participant said, “This is not the end; this is the beginning.” That’s how I really feel. It’s the start of a new life.

I stepped up right away back in Calgary. I’ve offered satsang and I am teaching Hatha Yoga. I never thought I would be doing that. Through the YDC, I’ve learned how to support myself through change and uncertainty. I’m changing how my mind works.

Consider joining the 2019 YDC – our 50th year of this foundational life-changing course.


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