At the close of my classes, I share a quotation that resonates with me and aligns with the energy of the practice. A favourite is from Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke who wrote in 1903, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.” To me, this beautifully encapsulates the yogic life: a life of inquiry tested through the mileage of committed practice.
When I first began teaching, every bit of new factual information I received was delivered to my students with some shock at my previous ignorance and a deep earnestness. I would process being angry with myself, and sometimes my teachers, for teaching misinformation. In teaching and connecting with peers, I needed to share each of these great discoveries so they wouldn’t waste any of their time. We could all have all the information, I believed, and then our practices would be so much more efficient and error-free.
How time and experience tempers enthusiasm for “strictly-the-facts”! I offer myself compassion and forgiveness for the mistakes I make as a person, as a teacher. I remember I did the best I could with the information I had, and that the intention was in the service of teaching. While we can never accrue all the information and strategy to completely prevent error, what matters is that we invest an earnest level of effort into expanding our frame of reference. This means balancing intellect and experience – the effort that underscores all my yoga.
When I teach I ask myself, “What needs sharing as today’s gem of knowledge? And how can I create space so they can witness it for themselves?” They need time to hear it and let it mingle with their ideas, as well as time to get quiet and cultivate their skillfulness at observing simply being with the present.
As a student, my study includes sitting with books and notes that inspire all of my practice, offerings and actions. I let the wisdom percolate through contemplation and meditation, because there’s a calm that comes with knowing something in your bones, and that requires both learning and living the information.