I can't claim to have much wisdom, I suppose I do have a little knowledge and possibly at times a timely dose of magic! The first two -knowledge and wisdom-are very different things and we can often forget that. You need both to plan a good workshop or weekend or teacher training. One without the other is very unstable. I have been to (and delivered) workshops that were full of amazing exercise but somehow fell flat and others that were understated and simple yet really hit home. It can be an elusive and confusing world to inhabit, no wonder so many yoga teachers avoid them like the plague!
At the moment I am putting together the upcoming Teachers Functional Breathwork Weekend in London. As you can see from the photo, I have literally dozens of pages of notes (they start off handwritten, get typed up then changed and evolve constantly), probably a dozen or more books (many are digital as well which i cant show here), am currently studying courses and have studied various breathwork methods in the past.
These are the ways in which i start to put together the knowledge that I need. It is a case of exploring the techniques on offer, the methods and reasoning behind them, the background anatomy and physiology in this case and so on. Just like a London taxi driver, I am learning, absorbing, putting pieces together and developing the most efficient and fluid routes to get people where I want them to go.
I suppose in reality the knowledge building stage has been going on for years, from suffering with asthma as a child right up to the present; my studies at medical school and teaching as a science teacher, my enthusiasm for reading, learning, watching, absorbing and cross referencing information form as many sources as possible. This stage of planning has been quite intense for a few months now, as I start to put all of the pieces together in a logical format, you know that you have the entire jigsaw at this stage, you just aren't sure how it pieces together!
As the title says though Knowledge is not Wisdom. This full weekend version has now been delivered in shorter formats of half a day at various times. Those half day sessions take the knowledge and start to test it out in real life. Although I may have practised all of the techniques that I want to include, that is very limited research until you get more real life guinea pigs to research on! Some exercises work and some don't, demonstrations that look great when i plan them can fall flat and vice versa. Sometimes something works great with one class and then falls flat with the next.....we start to learn about group dynamics, holding space, timing as well as things that we cant quite put our finger on.
We put into practice the techniques, we test and try, we freedive, struggle to relax with asthma in the middle of the night, paddle our surfboards wth repeated breatholds and get better at controlling our airflow, restrict our breath during exercise, play with hyperventilating, breath holding, breath patterns. Make mental and written notes. What happens? Why? Is it even important? Useful?
This is the development of wisdom. Understanding the relevance of knowledge.
Like the taxi driver with knowledge of all the roads around London, now that you start to actually drive people around, you finding that some of the roads that might look good on a map are actually always clogged up or busy at certain times. Now you are starting to develop wisdom to accompany your knowledge. Thats why the older more experienced cabbie will get you there in half the time of the newbie.
A Touch of Magic
Thats not to say enthusiasm doesn't count, there are plenty of jaded teachers, yoga and otherwise who have plenty of knowledge and theoretically buckets of wisdom in delivering their content, a million qualification and hours of practical application and yet their sessions can seem stale, uninspiring, dry, as if a spark is missing to ignite the magic. That spark is the secret ingredient! I often talk about it on our Teacher training courses, it is a mixture of passion, enthusiasm and a capability to slip into the flow state. To do that you have to totally let go and jump into the river. I often say that good teachers will keep you enraptured whether they are sharing tips of handstanding or on knitting; the knowledge is almost secondary with a good teacher.
At times I have seen it happen to absolute novices with very limited knowledge and experience.
For example occasionally one of our new student teachers steps up to guide the room and my mind gets literally blown. Often they simply move to the front and you can feel them almost crackling with energy before they even open their mouths, you look round and the whole room can feel it too. A few people, not many, slip into this flow state very naturally; others learn to access flow over time and some never quite manage it. If you can control that energy then you can draw the room into group flow with you and things get very special, if you can't, then things can get chaotic very quickly :) Its a skill just like any other.
So there you have it, a super brief, very imperfect contemplation on some stuff. I still haven't worked it out, I probably never will and it doesn't really matter, but maybe knowing that is some sort of wisdom in itself!