Stay Open, Keep Learning

Today when I pulled into the parking lot of my yoga studio, I had a happy surprise awaiting me. Due to the fact that I almost never check my email, I hadn’t gotten the memo that yoga teacher training was starting again at the studio. At Yoga H’om the monthly training sessions are on the first weekend of every month, generally from October to April. And this has been the first new round of training since I started teaching there.

I live quite far away from my studio, but still choose to teach there because I love the students and teachers there so much. Usually I don’t have time during the week to make the trip up except to teach my class though. It was such a wonderful surprise getting to see my mentors and meet the new teachers in training.

The tradition is that the trainees take the Saturday and Sunday morning classes, and afterward the teacher stays to discuss it with the new students. I hadn’t had the chance to experience this before today. I still remember a few years ago when I was the trainee and how much I admired and respected the Saturday morning teacher we were to critique. I feel so mystified and honored to now be that person.

I welcomed the chance to hear what everyone liked or disliked about my class and teaching style. It was also nice to feel supported by the teachers that trained me. While my teaching isn’t the same as their own, they still respect that difference and see the value in my personal style.

One thing stood out to me during our discussion though. Just as there had been in my group of trainees, there was one that oozed that “know-it-all” aura. (Not that I haven’t been guilty of being a know-it-all in the past.) It was still interesting to see how that fit into the dynamic of the training and how my mentors responded. I sensed some resentment from the student when her ideas were challenged by the trainers.

I know my mentors picked up on the same vibe that I was sensing. They always seem to purposely be a little harder on those types of trainees. But I know this isn’t out of spite or anything like that. They simply want to teach this person how to be wrong. How to be open and keep that humble, curious, absorbent beginner’s mind. No matter how knowledgeable or experienced one might be.

I used this as a reminder for myself as well. I am someone who can also get caught up in my own preferences and opinions, getting hostile towards anyone or anything that dwells outside of them. Even though this time around I was the teacher helping the new trainees, I didn’t feel that way. I was learning and growing from our conversation just as much as they were. I was merely in a difference part of the classroom of life, a different seat, allowing me to see new things that I wasn’t able to before.

What I’m trying to say here is this: Never stop learning. Each day, each moment, each person is an opportunity to learn something new. No matter how much you think you know already. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this life. There is always more to soak in. Make sure your ego doesn’t prevent an open mind and, of course, an open heart.

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