Sunday, March 9, 2008
What makes a great teacher? This answer varies for us all.
For me, in high school and college it was the teachers who pushed my edge intellectually and artistically. At the time I thought it was them challenging me and the class. Today, I realized it wasn't that at all - it was that they guided me to a place where I could look with complete honesty at my work and who I am. In those classes I never aimed to please the teacher, I was there for me.
After college or further degrees we go out into the world and settle into our jobs and life and we can become complacent and numb - not because we're hit with unabashed monotony, but because we make it monotonous. We forget to honestly look at ourselves. I'm not talking about goals or what we do on a daily basis or what life has previously presented to us, but where we are within the present in mind, body, and soul.
At least this is very true for me.
After practice at Salt Pond today, I found myself lingering longer than usual. We had spent a lot of time in class working on float forward, handstand and crow and side crow - needless to say I got in a lot of tumbling and road kill imitation practice (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). As I headed out the door, I paused, turned and walked back up to the studio "looking to know what I have to do to float from crow to chaturanga dandasana and not tumble out of crow." The instructor totally called my bluff. What I had in fact returned for was help in defining some mental blocks. For someone on the outside, to ask me those questions in a manner I or others haven't asked in a long time - to offer a fresh perspective. I think I started this last Sunday, but definitely gained some more clarity after today's practice and even more after a couple great conversations with the Mathematician and the Artist.
The great teachers are our parents, our friends, our instructors, and our professors. These are the individuals that can lead to us to possibly the greatest teacher of all - Ourselves.
You just have to be willing to listen.
* Coincidentally, 108 is one of those numbers that is mathematically really cool and plays a major role in Eastern spirituality. Was it serendipity that my 108th class was today?