I travelled down to Bristol yesterday to hangout with two of my favourite people - Ash and Jambo, we spent . a good few hours working on the Advanced TT that we are running next year and of course it ended up with some very profound questions being asked, mainly about the role of yoga teachers in modern society and what we might offer them next year.
I was saying that one of my most uncomfortable hang ups is that I am averse to people thinking of me as their 'yoga teacher' . I feel very uncomfortable when a class claps me at the end of a workshop. Regardless of what you might think, I have no issue whatsoever with self-worth, I have plenty of confidence and my ego needs no boosting I'm sad to say! What I regret is that people don't realise that I was just an instigator, a catalyst, I can't teach them anything that they don't already know. They have all of this inner wisdom and it would be even better if they stood strong in that wisdom. All that 'I' did was maybe reminded them of it. At the end of the day its not really important, that's just my own attachment & aversion shit to deal with, but it got me thinking anyway...
So my chosen topic for next year is primarily about our beliefs, or more specifically unpicking the illusion of our beliefs. As a yoga 'teacher' one of the easiest traps to fall into is perceiving yourself as a teacher at all.
On our 200hour TT we are very clear at the beginning, that anyone in this responsible role should be very wary about falling into the 'guru' trap.That is to say, it is very easy to start believing that it is 'you' that is somehow delivering something that people need.
Of course we all must believe that we have something useful to offer to the rest of the world and I would guess and certainly hope that most people that set out as yoga teachers have - underlying all else - a desire to alleviate suffering in others. Nothing could be more altruistic.
But maybe we are overlooking something obvious before we start. 'We' cant actually do anything, however much we believe that we can.
There are teachers that I just don't 'get' - they don't resonate with me and their teaching makes no sense to me - at least on a conscious level. It certainly isn't their fault and neither is it mine, it is just that what they are bringing to the table doesn't speak to the truth inside of me. There is absolutely no doubt though that what they bring might make absolute sense to someone else. I have no doubt whatsoever that in my own alter ego as a 'yoga teacher' the truth is exactly the same - some people click with how I frame things and some can't stand the sight of my scruffy barnet or my foul mouth.
Many wiser people than me have said that we can never ask a question that we don't already know the answer to - after all if we didn't know the answer in some form then the question wouldn't even occur to us to ask. However that isn't to say that we can see the answer in front of our face and that is where the teacher comes in.
We imagine that someone else, someone separate from us is 'teaching' us something, in the case of a 'guru' that they are 'removing our darkness or ignorance'. But in truth they are simply inspiring us to answer our own questions, it is as if what they are saying or doing is reminding us of something that deep down, we already know but have just forgotten. Do you see, you can't learn anything that you already know and you cant be 'taught' by anyone other than yourself.
You might get that feeling that a teaching resonates very clearly with something deep inside of you, as a very obvious truth, in fact it would probably be the most true to say that your teacher is simply your own voice speaking loudly to you.
This isn't about beliefs, it is about knowing simple truths.
If a teacher says something and you have to wonder if you believe it or not then you don't really know it as a truth. However if they say something that clicks, that makes your heart sing. then it is already an inner truth, a wisdom that you hold - there is no dilemma about whether you need to believe it or not.
It may also be the case that a teacher you normally don't 'like' suddenly says something that clicks exactly with what you ned at a given moment. Likewise, teachers that have always been your favourites can start to grate with some of your inner truth. It's not as if we are unsure about this when it happens - we know if something resonates with us or not, it is glaringly obvious, we don't have to wonder about it. Sometimes we often may not even 'like the taste' of a teaching, but somewhere inside we know whether it is fundamentally useful and true.
So what does this mean for the teachers out there? It means that you don't have to worry about whether people like what you are saying or don't like what you are saying, both are largely irrelevant. Your only duty is to be entirely honest to yourself and speak your truth. If you teach from the heart, however limited your 'knowledge', your grasp of philosophy or sanskrit or whatever, it doesn't matter. Just being there and showing up completely is enough - after all how many times have you thought 'Oh my god that was an awful class I just taught' and then someone comes up at the end and says thank you, that class just made their week?
It isn't your job to know what is useful, or second guess yourself, or worry about other peoples opinions. it is simply your job to turn up and BE YOU.
Advanced TT details here