Looking back and looking forward

Permit me a self-indulgent post (it is my blog after all!). I’ve been recalling a few silly or strange moments from TT that I wanted to remember for myself. Perhaps you’ll enjoy them too:

  • That I featured in a one of the other student teacher’s dreams: we were swimming in the river so I could teach her Sanskrit (apparently swimming would make it easier for her to learn, I’d said!); our teachers watched on from the bank.
  • Squeezing in some extra teaching practice in the park in the evening with a few others. It was chilly so each down dog flopped our hoods over our heads, obscuring faces and muffling the giggles. Only the most extravagant up dog would clear them off! We made a contrast with the groups of teenagers who sat drinking and smoking around us.
  • krishnaThe day when after a full day of training we were required to attend the public class at the studio. I was (almost) literally on my knees with fatigue and pondering whether I could ask to be excused when one of the other student teachers enthusiastically linked arms with me telling me she just had to practise next to me because of my amazing energy!
  • Teaching practice when I just forgot my words and ended up chanting the names of Krishna instead! Would that I could actually do that in a proper class 🙂 Sri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare, Hey Natha Narayana Vasudevo
  • Telling my teacher during one of the formal assessments that I wasn’t going to do the sutra presentation quite as he’d asked because that wasn’t part of my sadhana. I didn’t think at the time that this might have been weird/obnoxious — and he generously acquiesced anyway. Amusingly the following day defining the word ‘sadhana’ came up in our written exam and no-one seemed to know what it meant! So I learn that no-one listens to me anyway…
  • Calling three inhales in a row during my assessed class. And knowing it just a second too late! Wondering (with the small part of my brain that was spare) if everyone would inflate and rise up to the ceiling. Hopefully no-one was listening then either!
  • That one of the student teachers physically assisted our revered teacher during the assessed practical. His surprised expression was a picture. She said later that she didn’t even think about it, she just saw a body ill at ease. Would that I could forget his presence in class so easily!

Of course the best bits of TT can’t be reduced to a bullet list. They were the moments of teaching joy.

Calling poses, offering cues, and seeing bodies moving around me; then being told later that I’d created some wonderful surprise in a pose by the words I’d used. Or working one on one with someone, suggesting some modification based on how their body looked and finding that it really did offer greater ease or strength in a particular pose. Sitting together and breathing, offering some quiet moments of stillness and seeing shoulders relax and faces soften.

These are not feelings of power or control. Sure, there is something wonderful about realising you can offer something valuable to others based on your own experiences or that you have enough technical knowledge to inform their ongoing practice. But more than this learning and the acquired skills, there’s the awesome feeling of letting your light shine out, your love and your faith, risking everything through this openness. And then seeing this light reflected back in the bodies of others and knowing that this is the most precious return possible.

Those moments when I got out of my own way and offered what I could from my heart… that was the wonder of it all. Terrifying but beautiful. I can’t capture that feeling with a list or indeed with any words. It was too fine an experience, as ephemeral as a breath, over in a heartbeat. Yet still echoing through my memories and bringing a sweet smile to my lips.

I’m reminding myself of this as I start to make plans on how I might begin to offer my teaching out into my corner of the world. I find it so easy to get distracted by worldly concerns, then I over-complicate, and second-guess myself…

So I’m feeling back to the sense of oneness that came in teaching and how beautiful that was. I can offer what I can. My teaching too will be on ongoing practice. But to begin: the first step, the first breath. That’s all that’s needed. “Each breath is a new beginning…”

 

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