I went to a workshop during Memorial Day Weekend and thought it was really enlightening to hear the instructor connecting the activities done with remembrance of previous and current teachers in our lives, since this holiday is about remembering. Along the three hours we were there, she constantly reminded us of teachers and lessons learned, “sometimes through a whole lecture, sometimes with just a word or even one smile.”
By teachers she obviously did not mean literally teachers. She was talking about people who had or still have some effect in your life, helping you grow, which naturally involves parents, and family in general, like that cousin you’ve always admired or that has always admired you. “May this be a time when we honor them”, she said, as they have honored us with their guidance, in whichever way that happened. A good friend that has supported you through difficult times, or maybe a friend that has gone through tough times and served as a good example of strength and determination for you. Maybe you read on the paper about a guy with physical disabilities who insisted on climbing a big mountain and persevered until he did it. A child (possibly one of yours) who overcame his fear of completing a somersault. These are all examples of people who inspired us at some point in our lives, when they showed up as teachers for us. And if you didn’t realize it at that time it was a lesson, it probably stuck to your head, and waited in a corner until you were ready to see it as a lesson, even though you may not have been ready yet to learn it, but acknowledging it is a start.
While doing the yoga part of the workshop, the instructor mentioned another quote: “For every posture you master, you are rewarded with another challenging one.” This way you are constantly learning! Besides being challenged by the poses, there are already a few limitations in ourselves, not just fears and beliefs, but physical ones. Everyone in the room had a problem, such as a previously injured knee or neck, painful lower back, or a hurt wrist; most of them caused by not listening very well to our bodies. This way, the instructor reminded us to always bring awareness to our practice (and lives in general), and really pay attention to clues sent by areas in our body when we are just asking too much of them. They need to be respected. If you stop to think about it, they are also teachers, there are lessons to be learned with an injury; not just that it limits you, but on a deeper level, it tries to tell you something about the activity that generated it.
Next, the instructor led us into more introspective thinking. She said, “Think about where you are now in your life, and how you got here”. So many teachers contributed to this! Each one of them patiently presented a lesson to you. They didn’t mind if you get it or not; their job was to present the lesson(s) to you. And some of them kept reintroducing the lesson over and over. For instance, consider parents teaching their child to walk or talk. They will try and try until the child finally gets it. This is just a simple example; obviously there are way more complex lessons to be learned in life. When I thought about some teachers that helped get me where I am today, I remembered my grandfather first. He used to tell me stories of his travels a long time before even my mother was born. His stories did not just show me wisdom; they had vivid details that fed my curiosity! And I replayed in my mind when he told me one day, “I like when you come from an event and tells me so many details.” I felt really proud that my grandpa – the best storyteller in my opinion – was interested in my own stories! And silently I thanked him for having blessed me with all he could, and I am not talking about money at all. Deep inside he probably felt his granddaughter could tell stories as interestingly as he did, even if I didn’t feel this way. With lots of patience, he modeled it for me, and fortunately I was able to grasp it while he was still alive. And so did many other people in my life, who I am equally thankful for.
Now if I ask you to try to remember some of the teachers you’ve had in your life so far, pay attention to how those people believed in you. Your teachers always knew you could do a lot, otherwise they would not bother teaching you; they can see past your current limitations, your current beliefs. And as the workshop progressed, the instructor asked us to try to see past those, too. As if we were our own teachers, which we really are. Deep inside us is our inner guru, our true teacher, our Higher Self who knows everything. But this is a big subject to be dealt with on a future post. The bottom line here is: May we all honor our teachers, and trust ourselves as they have always done.