Recently I found myself wondering . . . what kind of teacher am I? And despite being prone to just this type of self-analysis I couldn’t find an answer. I began reflecting on the teachers I have had who have had the biggest impact on me. Who have been the best teachers for me?
Of course, my Yoga Teacher has been my most recent Best Teacher. But further back, three people come to mind. It’s amazing that from years of schooling, just a few really stand out.
One was an undergrad teacher, a true old-fashioned English professor, down to the tweed jacket. And he was hard; most students avoided him. I didn’t even really like his specialty area that much, 18th century English poets. But he was good. He stands out because he had high expectations and didn’t “suffer fools gladly,” which is probably why most students didn’t like him. He sent us on tedious jaunts into the (pre Internet!) library to hone our research skills and gave long reading and writing assignments, expecting accuracy and wit. If you got a good grade from him, you felt like you had accomplished something. I remember feeling weary from his classes, but I’ve always looked back and been proud of the work I did for him. He believed we were capable of top-notch work, and he showed us how to do it.
The second person that came to mind was also a literature professor, but a very different one. This woman was a passionate feminist and brought her mindset into her classes by introducing writers outside the canon. She was much more than a teacher to me; she was a mentor and guide. She was unassuming—but passionate—about her philosophical views, but also about education. She was one of the few professors experimenting with how she taught and how students interacted to deepen the learning process. It was in her blood to be enriching her own learning, and she was passionate about creating similar experiences for her students. She was a role model for challenge, but also risk.
The final “teacher” who came into my mind is my maternal Grandmother. With the simple act of holding me and saying “I love you.” My grandmother made sure I knew I was loved, that she loved me, no matter what. The fact of her love has remained powerful and continues to nourish my heart; I can still feel the impact of her “I love you’s.”
What good touchstones. So for me, “good teacher” means someone who believes in my potential, shares her passion in creative ways, and loves.
They were imperfect; so am I. But that’s not what I remember. What has lasted is the way each of these 3 people put themselves forward, made sure that their voice was not just heard, but felt.
Really the question isn’t what am I, but what am I trying to be? Not simply as a teacher, but as me. Who has shaped your path? Who helps you see the kind of person you want to be?
3:39AM … that is when I awoke – wide awake – on this blessed April 1st … April Fool’s Day … despite having nodded off only a few hours prior! The phrase which greeted me at this opportune hour was “Take responsibility, Josette.” In my restlessness, I began to consider how I might embody that statement, placing my trust wholeheartedly in the fact that it must have intuitively found me at this obscene hour for some reason. And so I was led to ponder… Responsibility for my thoughts; responsibility for my actions; and responsibility for my words.
In choosing to embrace this as an opportunity to reflect in a manner which tends to serve me best, I’ve turned to writing. Writing with the intention of sharing. For, I am striving to embrace the fact that I have valuable knowledge and insight to share.
I am aware of the fact that sharing in such a manner is an admittedly vulnerable endeavor. I am also aware of the fact that this is simply an opportunity for growth; an opportunity to establish and nurture new neural pathways. Furthermore, in choosing to use such “I statements” through my thoughts, my words, and my actions, I am aware of the fact that I am embracing a Gestalt based approach of existence.
This is something which I embodied throughout my time spent at The Esalen Institute. I’d brainstormed that the reflective blog which I might draft to share publicly of my time away could be entitled checking out to check in. And yet, throwing my plan out the window in an effort to trust what feels right in this moment is precisely in accordance with that which I’ve learned to embrace during my time away. And so, in the wee hours of this AM … on this joyous April 1st … I feel this to be a ridiculously fortuitous time to reflect. So, here goes nothing …
I’ve been home one week now to date and re-integration has been nothing short of a whirlwind. It seems my body still has NO idea upon what coast I am currently residing. Each night as I lay my head upon my pillow with the intention of a full night’s rest, unfortunately I wake after a few short hours. Some nights 5 – 6 hours of shut eye, though last night only 3 – 4, having obtained what one might consider a respectable nap, but certainly NOT a full night’s rest. And yet, somehow, someway, I have been incredibly productive. I have sincerely enjoyed re-connecting with many of my family, friends, and clients. I feel abundantly grateful for these connections, and even more grateful for the resilience of my body.
I’ve come to learn, in short, that the body is miraculous. And, with regards to my body in particular, I have come to acknowledge and accept the fact that it has been through a heck of a lot! I would be remiss in neglecting to admit that some of that which I’ve been challenged to overcome has been admittedly self-induced.
In removing myself from “normal life,” as I’ve seemingly known it, to reside in the remoteness of community based living at the fairy-tale existence of reality which I grew to know and love at The Esalen Institute- shout out to the gods/goddess which I’ve left behind – I was provided with what proved to be a fabulous opportunity to learn that which truly enables me to function well. And what I learned is that absolutely no one is control of me but me.
What enables me to function optimally is likely quite different than what enables you to function optimally. The beauty, and opportunity for application, of this realization is that each one of us has been given our own unique body, our vessel, through which to navigate this life. While this seems to be common sense, I found it to be a profound realization. I’ve learned that I can choose to embrace this by taking responsibility for myself fully, by consciously choosing to conduct my thoughts, my actions, and my words, in a manner which will truly honor that which serves me best … or not. At the end of the day, no one but is in control of this but ME!
And so I challenge you now to take a look at your life. How have you been showing up (or not) for you? How might you optimally honor that which serves your greater good? I challenge you to consider the following … have you been taking responsibility for your thoughts, for your actions, and for your words in a manner which can and will optimally serve your greater good?
Perhaps you too might look to this April 1st … this April Fool’s Day … as not a day for foolery, but rather, as a day of opportunity. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Through an embracing of a Gestalt based existence, I vow publicly to truly take responsibility! In the month ahead, I elect to embody this phrase. I choose to take responsibility ... for my thoughts … for my actions … and for my words. I choose April as a month of Awareness; to honor that which will serve me optimally. I offer you the opportunity to join me!!!!
With A Wide Open Heart,
This blog is a reflection of things going on my life and the world around us. Through yoga we always try to look at things in a different light!