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Confessions of a Yoga Teacher

September 5th, 2009

scenery-creek02You know the feeling when someone listens to you – when they recognize how truly special you are and how much they can learn from what you have to say?

Well that’s what I want to do right now. But first, a confession. I’ll come right out and say it… I don’t know everything. In fact there’s a lot I don’t know.

It’s funny how life teaches you how to be humble, isn’t it? 10 years ago I wouldn’t have wanted to openly fess up that there are things of which I am ignorant. Ugh. That word itself still brings a conditioned response of dislike.

I think, for me anyway, the idea of ignorance brings up the feeling of vulnerability, which is another area in which I’ve come far. I used to recoil at the idea of showing vulnerability, but I have come to realize that every single human being feels vulnerable sometimes. It’s one of the things that brings us together – we share this common link of tender spots that don’t always show but are there to keep us humble and willing to reach out to one another.

Now, there are those of us who go through life (or parts of life) trying to at least sound like we know what we’re talking about even when we don’t, and then there are some people who will openly ask questions about things when they don’t know what’s going on. I used to judge this, back in my “vulnerable is a dirty word” days, but now I admire this trait. When someone can ask questions without presumption, much like a child, it shows a different kind of strength; one of humble willingness to learn from others.

When you get really honest with yourself, and you expand your awareness of the world and all its mysteries, you eventually come to that wise, age old conclusion of “The more you know, the more you realize there’s a whole lot more you don’t know.”

I love this! It’s one of the blessings of life; not knowing everything. That means there is so much more to discover, to create, to experience, to learn.

Of course, I do know some things. A lot of really useful, magical, healing, fun and life changing things. These are what I teach, and what I live as a human being in this grand game of life. But I have found, as I focus much of my time gleaning wisdom from my surroundings, that every single person, each experience, and, really, everything in life can be a teacher if you’re open to it.

One of the finest and most enjoyable ways to enrich your understanding of the grand world as we know it is to listen to others.

Not talk over them or interject your opinion as soon as they take a breath, but to actively, sincerely listen. This takes some practice. Sometimes we get so excited about things that we really want to blurt out our own ideas, but I have come to the conclusion that it’s advanced yoga to simply and patiently listen.

Every person has their unique contribution, and each relationship or ‘chance’ encounter presents an opportunity to find out what the others’ contribution is. Of course, what you have to offer is also very important, but so often we’re so concentrated on what we have to give that we forget how receive.

Listening is a gift.

It is making yourself available to receive the offering of someone else; to be open to what they have to contribute and consider the meaning it has for you or for the world beyond you.

This practice of truly caring about the unique contribution of others is one of the most important, kind, life changing things you can choose to incorporate into your life. It is one of the things that sets real leaders apart – those who know enough to realize that each person matters.

I cherish the practice of being humble. Sometimes I forget, but something always pops up to remind me. And right now, I want to listen to YOU.

Here’s what I’d like to know: What, specifically, would you like to get out of your yoga or meditation practice?

Post your questions/goals below and I’ll choose some as the topic of upcoming articles .

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  1. Andrew
    September 11th, 2009 at 16:03 | #1

    Right now it would be great if my practice brought me the ability to NOT judge my family so critically. For various reasons I get emotionally reactive with them as they live out their relatively harmless habits; whereas staying unattached and observant when a friend or stranger is acting in anger is often not a problem.

  2. September 11th, 2009 at 16:10 | #2

    Andrew – that’s such an honest and common thing to deal with. I’ll definitely address this subject; something I think most of us struggle with from time to time. Thanks for commenting.

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