Last year I had coffee with a friend and like on so many occasions before with this and other friends I said, “I really wish I had a teacher.”
You see even yoga teachers need teachers. I crave that connection and knowingness that comes from learning from someone you respect. I long to have a teacher see me as a student like I see those yogis in my classes. I want someone to say, “you should really work on backing off, or you can push more or you’re doing it just right.” I want to go to classes and grow. I want someone I can call when I have a quandary and a success.
I want a teacher.
This mantra has been mine for a while now. In two months I will have been teaching yoga a lot every week for four years. In two months I will mark the anniversary of when I became a yoga teacher. And In two months I will note the moment that I began the journey to find a teacher of my own.
Yet, over the last week and months I have been reminded that perhaps the best teachers are not those that stand in front of us in classrooms or studios. The best teachers arrive when we least expect them to show up and give us a kernel of something. Perhaps what we learn is from a total stranger or even from our own missteps. But there is, dear readers, no dearth of teachers.
We live in a world wildly rich in them.
“There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”
― Robert Frost
If you spend your days looking for a studio/classroom in which to learn, you will miss out on some of the most important and inspirational lessons available to you. Here is just one story to share that shows that teachers come in many different costumes and appearances.
Kindness goes a long way as does patience: The delivery guys from Pottery Barn today were my teachers. They showed up after their company failed to rely the message that I would not be home for one hour today and scheduled them for just that time. They sat patiently in my driveway which was an ice rink because of the weather and waited. And waited. And waited. Five minutes before they were going to leave I finally got the message they were there and they stayed 15 more minutes to wait for me. They were not annoyed. They were not anxious. They were kind and patient. Even after getting their truck stuck in my snowy/icy driveway and having to dig it out (not kidding) they were smiling, cheerful and wonderful. I was reminded of the gifts of kindness and patience by their actions. To be frustrated but to keep on keep on keeping on with a smile shows comfort and ease. These teachers brought light to the practices of compassion, equanimity and loving kindness in their actions and ways.
They were not delivering a table, they were delivering lessons.
If you allow yourself to be a student, then you are always open to seeing new teachers. You take their kernels of inspiration and wisdom and embed them in your practice on and off the mat. Perhaps it is the woman at the grocery store with poor posture that reminds you to set your body up structurally sound, or the man with the walker who helps another and renews your belief that strength is internal. Our teachers do not need to stand and teach us a lesson in a traditional fashion. They are everywhere and we should be in a constant state of absorption of their teachings. You learn when you are open to these teachers.
I no longer quest longingly for a single teacher, because I realize that I am surrounded by them. I am open, I am ready to dive in to my studies.
Let the teachers reveal themselves. I am ready to learn.