There are things in life that we often take for granted. The obvious wonder of a beautiful sunrise, the sound of wind chimes, or the smile of a child become lost in this electronic, instant-answer world. The importance of humility and grace is often over looked and should not be lost. It starts with the simple admiration and respect for our elders and educators. When did our gratitude toward our teachers become replaced with expectation and entitlement?
Throughout the ages, in societies like India and China, a teacher is always honored and included in the student's prayers and thoughts even after the classes are completed. Often, students would send money back to the teacher as a sign of affection and appreciation. When did we forget to take our shoes off for the sacred?
As the student embarks on the road of life, ready to embrace and apply the lessons learned, it is a constant challenge to preserve the essence of our study. How come we stray and lose the sacredness of who we really are? Today, we sue our doctors, we complain to the principal about our child's teacher, choosing to deflect and defer instead of listen and process. When did we become so self-indulged that we forget to be grateful and thankful to the people that educate us? We need to remember and honor those in public service. The teachers, the physicians, the healers are all dedicating their lives to help people better themselves, and yet, our society places more admiration on the CEO that makes seven figures.
As I pause and reflect upon my recently completed teacher training, I realize how wonderful it was to watch each student crawl, walk, and finally fly. The process helps each person to expand, empowering the individual who absorbs and ultimately embraces the philosophies to become a teacher with their own vision and expression. The process also feeds me. I make new friends, and I have an inner joy when I see many of the students I trained become successful teachers in their own right. The practice is challenging. At times, there are some who need more time or who are unable to complete the training. It is a difficult moment. But it is this honesty, above all else, which allows the student to grow and enables me to help those who need more time to move on.
Over the years, I have found my students to be grateful for the honest and direct feedback, as well appreciative of my desire and dedication towards expressions of excellence. But sometimes, an individual can get caught in an unfortunate spiral and disillusionment, losing their humility, grace, and forgetting the very essence of why they enrolled in the training to begin with. And with that, I know, the method is true.
Yoga is the perfect discipline to work through personal obstacles as a mindful human being. As modern Yoga evolved and became an established career, the student/teacher role still is rooted in the age-old ideals of the past. You must love the person enough to say NO so they can grow, just like you tell your child out of love that certain things are not acceptable. It is important to stand on the fundamental pillars of grace, sacred and divine. No pearl was ever made without a little irritation.
I remember my journey through the yoga world, and I can still feel the excitement of discovery. Each class touched my core. The seminars I attended as a young student were electric, with hundreds of people in the room at once. I had a thirst that was difficult to quench. I was mesmerized.
At first, we were individuals, and then we were family. I am forever grateful to my teacher, John Friend. His dedication, style, and passion motivated me to be more. Many of his disciples continue to be leaders in the yoga community to this day. I dedicated 10 years to studying yoga and meditation with John. He taught me to become the best I could be by breaking old habits, refining my practice and committing to many hours of hard work and studying. When I was around John, I felt like I knew him from a previous life. That feeling stays with me, despite all that happened. He had thousands of followers. Being part of such a strong network intensified my experience as a student; it felt more real. I met people from all over the world. Because of our shared experience, we knew each other on an extremely intimate level. We understood each other in a way that even our own families could not comprehend.
Working so closely within a community was good for me at that time in my life. I was able to lose myself. By losing myself, I was able to reclaim a better version of myself, which is all part of the growth process. It was a scary yet fantastic journey.
Our community thought that John was truly a wise man with deep knowledge about the path to happiness and integrity. Yes, even teachers, who become elevated because we empower them, can succumb to human frailty and temptation. With the absence of humility and grace, the masses can and do withdraw their empowerment. We all yearn for sincerity, and as a society, we flock to leaders who can inspire. Although individual choices and mistakes have mired John's image, I have forgiven him. I realized he was only a man on the same path as we all are. However his powerful and wonderful lessons and practices were, at their core, motivational, inspirational, and for me, transformational.
He changed my life and the lives of his other students, forever. I feel we should cherish those who change our lives, even if they do not live up to the expectations we created. Instead, we should offer blessings. That's when we really start to learn about love and the nature of the universe.
G-d understands that the good and bad are equally part of creation, that difficulties can become our greatest blessings or teachings.
I can use the lessons I learned in my yoga life experience, (steadfast commitment to working hard and playing hard while maintaining humility and grace), on any path that I choose to follow. Like the wonder a beautiful sunrise, the sound of chimes, and the smile of a child, these are the things in life we should not take for granted.
Love and Light,
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This article was originally posted on Huffington Post. To read it there, please follow this link.