I’ve been teaching yoga for two years. After a class this morning a new student stayed to talk with me. She said that she had been moved by a comment I had made while students were in Virabhadrasana. (I had mentioned the courage of the warrior and asked how we can be warriors for peace.) She asked me to tell her more so I talked with her a few minutes, explaining what I could and telling her of my own journey with the idea of peaceful warrior. I could see that my words were going deep and as I finished she was very open and was looking at me in a way that was new for me as a teacher. I can say that it was a spiritual moment. She was waiting for something from me, I think. I wanted to take her head in my hands and say, Daughter, be blessed - or something like. I should say here that I’m 61 and I guess her to be in her twenties. I wanted to bless her, but I don’t feel that I am realized enough to do that as a teacher. At the same time, I’m awake enough to know that it is within me to give a blessing, as it is within us all. But I don’t want to set anything up that shouldn’t be set up. Please advise. Thank you.
Clearly it was a blessed moment and in her eyes you are a blessing. I would go ahead and give her your blessing. You are a senior teacher, not due to your age but to your sensitivity. One can never fully evaluate their state of elevation without comparing to others. All you can say is that you are blessing her so go ahead and do the act.
Let me tell you a story. When i was in India on my 3th trip, i was blessed to have time with Swami Prakashananda who played the role of my spiritual mentor. When students came to be with him he would unfold his legs and extend them for the students to touch with hands or heads. He was gracious in giving his blessings in this traditional manner. A few days later while visitng Divine Mother Suptashring Devi (a mountain) some devotees caught me outside standing enjoying the fresh air. One of them bowed to me putting his hands and head on my feet. I was shocked to feel a huge wind of prana rise through my entire body as he pranamed there. I discovered that his receving my blessing was equally balanced with my receiving his. Blessings. mukunda stiles
Thank you for the kind response. And thank you for the story; it gives me some understanding of my own story. The moment I had with the student was a moment of oneness, even though other students were milling around us. It was peaceful and energetic all at once. I knew what to do, because the inner teacher was speaking, but I lost the thread because of rationality. With your teaching I have now begun to understand the experience. Great blessing! Perhaps when the teacher is ready, the student appears… Om Shanti. David
they also say when the teacher is ready the student appears. Sometimes God is waiting for us and sometimes we are waitign for the Divine. Either way the One that we are looking for us also looking for us as St. Frances said. Either way we are blessed. namaste mukunda
“Sometimes God is waiting for us…” That is a powerful idea. Teaching yoga has become my spiritual path and practice to large extent. So I dedicate my practice to my students. As I look back over my life I see that I have always placed myself in service to others, and now in recent years I’ve learned that this is a path to God. And surely God is waiting, patiently, for us all. In those times when I feel that I am on my path, I feel myself capable of bestowing blessings. And when I’m wandering around in the weeds somewhere, I know that I must reserve myself until I’m back on the track. So I’ve learned that much since my first post and your reply. Perhaps God’s practice is that of teacher too? Maybe that’s where we’ll meet. Om Shanti. David
your understanding is good. the true relationship is to merge the student into the teacher into the Divine Presence; all without loosing yourself. this happens naturally when the relationship is mature. All is one is not merely a slogan. The teacher can become an energetic doorway for the student to find their own energy which mirrors the process of inward development and surrender. blessings. mukunda
Namaste, Mukunda. I read once that the job of the teacher is to set the conditions for the students to have their own experience. Your image of an energetic doorway seems to me to be like that. After all, one does have to walk through to the other side on one’s own, but the door offers a way. I often think of the image of the boatman, with yoga being the vessel. Merging with the student and into the Divine is a deep practice. A holy practice, I think. And I tell myself that such a practice requires humility. (The ego hates that, of course, so I have the usual struggles.)
I try to hold the class, the student. Hold - that’s the word that comes to mind. I try to hold them in love, I think. I arrive at this through intuition. I don’t have a teacher at this time, except for those whose words I read, and I’d be grateful for any advice on how to become that doorway. Thank you. David
By being with a spiritual teacher you see them role model this for you. Time with such a presence or just looking to find one even if you are uncertain of them, is invaluable in learning this. We cannot know one except that by being with them our heart opens revealing the inner teacher synchronized with the outer teacher. Persist in looking and you will find. blessings. mukunda
What is the relevance please of the age of the teacher and the age of the student in this thread??
In truly seeking for a spiritual teacher, The student must be free of agism, sexism, racism, religionism, height, weight concerns. The student must be relatively free of such concerns for they limit who you will find. blessings. mukunda
I included my age and that of the student’s, I think, because I made a reference to the student as “daughter” and I felt the need of some context for that. Also, to be honest, as a beginning teacher at age 60 I felt a little self conscious about my age and so, being on my mind, that info sometimes still comes out of me when probably nobody cares. It’s been a couple of years now and I’m no longer nervous about my age, and it is of course as Mukunda says, we need to free ourselves of such concerns. All that being said, I think that my age is a benefit to me as a teacher. I lead a class very differently than I would have at a younger age. For one thing, I have lots of material to draw from for teaching examples.
At the heart of my original post was this: people sometimes turn to me, looking for something deep. And this is new for me, and what is particularly new is the emerging sense that I might have something deep to give to them. I wouldn’t have thought so five years ago. My journal has a lot of questions I have asked myself, and one of them is this: if you could just flip a switch and become enlightened, would you do it? That question forces the issue for me. It makes me face myself and ask whether I am willing to let go of all that I would need to let go of in order to practice for the benefit of others. That is what it takes to walk the spiritual path, or so I believe. I needed someone experienced to talk to about this. And so I asked Mukunda for guidance, and his kind words have been very helpful. Thank you, Mukunda. And thank you, InnerAthlete, for asking the question.
you are welcome. Advice is free; taking it is not free but costly. blessings. mukunda
Mukunda has a background with much more depth than I. Therefore I suspect his set of experiences also run deeper bringing a certain validation to his feedback that mine will not muster.
That having been said, what the student must be is rarely what the student is. And while we can pontificate about students seeking teachers and being free of this, that or the other thing, it’s rarely the reality.
In fact it’s typically just the opposite. Students tend to be filled with ageism, racism, sexism, and religionism. Your question, as it was crafted (including an age reference) DID mater and reminded me of my very first teacher training. A man asked about touching students and the teacher said “what is it about YOUR energy that you would even wonder if touch is okay? Is your energy clean?” And that’s a very relevant question in a day where everyone is a guru and spiritual leader.
So I inquired to see what you might offer.
I believe the distance between student and teacher must be very carefully measured both for the wellness of the teacher and the student. I think in those situations the student should be answered directly, kindly, with compassion, and then it should be left. Period.
i find this an interesting post
i have been keeping an eye out all my life for one main master, but not yet found him
but i have realised that in different aspects of my life (yoga, professional, other interests), life has placed experienced people in my path to guide and raise me. almost like a partnership of teachers
does this make sense?
I think it makes perfect sense. We’ve touched in this thread on the well known “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I always had a hard time understanding that in any practical way. I live in a rural area and there don’t seem to be many potential gurus around, and I couldn’t see how any that were here would be looking for me. I used to wonder whether suddenly the gentleman across the room in the Indian restaurant would get up from his table, come to mine and offer to teach me. Maybe it happens that way sometimes. But recently it came to me that I was perhaps being too narrow. I think the way it works is that as we progress in understanding we are better able to recognize teachers and teachings that have been there all along. Like everything else those relationships arise, then pass. But since you see them as such I think that it means that you have made the progress necessary to know a teacher when you see one. So a partnership of teachers revolve through your life because you are ready for such. As for the master teacher, I haven’t found one either. So that means to me that I am not yet ready. Mukunda says to keep looking. And to that I add, for myself, keep working. So that I can be ready to understand the teaching from a master.