Our first teachers are our parents. We learn from the people in our lives, our friends and our children (whether our own or those we meet. Whatch a child look upon the world. The pure joy and wonderment of the simplest thing, a butterfly, waves lapping the shore. Each moment, each experience a new brush stroke upon the canvass of life.
We learn from those around us whom have been blessed with old age. With that priviledge comes the wisdom of experience and the patience to savour the passing of time as life reveals it’s simple truths.
The perfect symphony of the natural world, mother nature reveals her teachings if we take the time to listen, to experience. I remember early on in my days of yoga. Whilst practising outside, i found my gaze drawn to a tiny greenfly, an aphid. I became captivated by the rainbow refracted from the translucence of it’s tiny wings, followed by an awareness of this perfect little creatures place in the dance of life. What is our place? Are we somehow outside nature? If we have a pet, a faithful dog, an independent cat, what do we learn from these four legged ( and two legged, i have a rescued parrot!) friends and companions?
What of our yoga practice? Traditionally it was said that the teacher or Guru appeared when the student was ready. Personally, my own experience of yoga began with a six week yoga course, more of a companion for my sister. Later on, I practised at home with a battered copy pf Mr Iyengar’s ‘light on yoga’. I relied upon the book and what I recognised as my inner teacher, my inner Guru. Intuitively feeling my way around the asana, my breath connecting body with mind, beyond my mind, my emotions. I thought that this was enough. I was wrong.
In time, I found myself compelled to explore different styles, different teachers. I found myself building up my own opinions whilst questioning and judging. No teacher seemed to satisfy my curiosity or fully answer my questions. It seemed ‘I’ ultimately was always right. ‘I’ knew best. For a long time that was just fine. It was only when a friend (and teacher) suggested I go upon a week long retreat with a Teacher called Clive that something remarkable (for me at the time) happened. I let go a little of that almighty sense of self righteousness, that sense ‘I’. A little surrender of what I know realise to be ego. I’m not saying immediately signed up along the dotted line, mindlessly agreeing with everything he taught. I just found a little space inside. A space where I could hear and experience that sense of self but from a different angle, a different perspective. I realised I wasn’t always right, I also wasn’t always wrong. By bridging what I had learned with what I also experienced, my practice, outlook and life was changed forever.
I still find myself sometimes disagreeing with my teacher. After all, we all possess unique personalities. We are all individuals. However, to go a little beyond our individuality is to open, to unify, to share in the oneness. A state or experience that defies definition or explanation. For this I give thanks to the circumstances good and bad in my life that have lead to this moment.
Would this have happened without finding a teacher? Who can say? My instinct tells me that the right teacher acts as a catalyst. After all, what is being revealed is that which ultimately is already known. So when do you know you have found your teacher? We practice, we enquire. Of course always with an awareness for those in the spiritual marketplace who are out to exploit financially, sexually or for egotistical gains.
Beyond your questions, thoughts and judgements, if the experience of a teacher leaves you with a sense or feeling you cannot explain. Or stirs up emotion, maybe a strong reaction or even resentment, then perhaps sit back, listen. Let go a little.