Thursday, November 20, 2014

Teaching Others; Learning About Myself

I'm back in New York! And it's the best thing ever! Never mind that the jet lag is making me average seven hours of sleep a night!

I did a lot of teaching over the past month. It was an interesting practice in Svatyaya: Sanskrit for, more or less, self-study.

The way that you teach the fiftyth front hip lean, versus the first, says a lot about you. So does the way you handle the third person in one day putting herself into a dangerous position by deliberately disobeying your instructions.

Yoga has helped me to grow into a much more patient and compassionate person than I used to be...but I've discovered that my patience still has an expiration date, and my compassion is not unconditional. I can teach the same thing over and over and over and see the subtle nuances that make each time unique, and have fun doing it...but if I feel like I'm wasting my breath, eventually I can't hide my frustration anymore.

Even though I know it's not THIS student who has earned my frustration. It's the whole long line of them, and the fact that I'm seeing them as all connected, all allied on some level against me, when in fact the only thing they have in common is a survival instinct for keeping close to the earth that had served them well up until they found themselves in the peculiar set of circumstances that is an aerial yoga class.

Having reached this conclusion, I now know the outside limit of yoga classes I can handle on a daily and weekly basis without losing my zen, and failing to be the teacher I want to be.

It'd be easy to be hard on myself, and in the name of those poor students, push myself to teach more and keep my mouth shut...but that would be as bad for my students as it would be for me. You can't force growth. And, if you're seeking to be more compassionate with others, you have to start by being more compassionate with yourself.

Over, and over, and over again.

I feel certain that there's such a thing as too much self-compassion...but I haven't hit that point yet, and maybe I'm wrong about that anyway. Maybe thinking that just goes to show how much more compassionate I need to be with myself.

It's tough when self-study turns up stuff we might not be so keen to know about ourselves. Even if you can reach for that compassionate response, you still need that compassionate response because it's a bit of a downer to find out you're not as kind, or patient, or humble, or whatever it might be as you had thought you were. But in a way, it's tough when it turns up the good stuff, too, because you want to have about the same reaction to both: something along the lines of, "Huh...interesting."I tell my students that we're trying to cultivate the attitude of a scientist observing an experiment. Objective, and equally interested in whatever outcome she or he sees.

Don't be afraid to observe yourself in action. You never know what you'll find, but that's the point! The only way to truly know yourself, and to slowly but surely grow into the person you want to be, is to pay attention to who you are right now, instead of assuming you already know. You can try it in a yoga class at first: observing how you react to each pose, and each sensation in your body. You'll want to bring this practice off the mat, too though. And get meta! How do you respond to the things that you're discovering through your svatyaya?

It's a study that never gets old. There's always more to learn! Will you be getting started at your next yoga class? Have you already worked with svatyaya? What discoveries did you make about yourself that surprised you?

Live Omily,

No comments:

Post a Comment