We fall down and down, until we touch the ground, until we relate with the basic sanity of the earth.
We become the lowest of the low, the smallest of the small, a grain of sand, perfectly simple, no expectations...
If you are a grain of sand, the rest of the universe, all the space, all the room is yours, because you obstruct nothing, overcrowd nothing, possess nothing. There is tremendous openness.
You are the emperor of the universe because you are a grain of sand.
-Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
At Balanced Yoga, one of the greatest challenges of teacher training, and simultaneously one of the greatest benefits, is learning to get out of your own way and opening yourself to the experience of being a student. Like any educational program, BYU represents a large body of information to be learned and mastered. However, as I progressed through yoga philosophy, anatomy, and instructor skill building modules, it became clear to me that my traditional learning methods were not going to be sufficient or well-suited for reaping the benefits of teacher training.
Slowly, I began to understand the concept of studentship, the experience of being on the frontier of an unknown truth, the very nature of which requires acceptance of the affirmation: I do not know. This vulnerability, and my gradual comfort with it, allowed me to experience the tide of deep understanding. In teacher training, I found myself perpetually crumbling what I had thought I knew and perpetually hungry with a strong curiosity to try new ways of thinking, new ways of doing. I learned to let go of any desire I had to direct or control my experience, and simply allowed myself to be open to the change this journey might bring into my life. All things considered, I suppose it is this humility that supports my capacity to be an effective yoga instructor. It informs and re-informs me everyday that I can never know what my students’ experiences of any phenomenon will be, but that I can choose to observe with them and respectfully allow them their own experience.
In a teacher training class, each individual finds herself on a solitary path, moving at a dynamic speed, but quite beautifully these distinct lines inform one another and you soon find the landscape of your experience enriched by the experience of the people around you. As you look at your teacher training classmates, you begin to see the common experience you share: the practice, teacher training, and the experience of teaching yoga provides us quite simply with information. Often, I found myself filled with discomfort, stress, or frustration. Just as often, I found myself pleasantly surprised with joy, ease, and openness. I learned ways to question this information and discovered my humanity in choosing whether to challenge myself to do something, or to accept myself at a particular moment, where perhaps my experience was to do nothing and learn from observing. The unique, and most moving aspect of teacher training is that it doesn’t teach you a set of facts; it gives you the context and tools to explore the wisdom of your own experience. This simple practice is the timeless tradition we open to others as we teach yoga. I wish all future teacher trainees the patience and vulnerability to facilitate their growth, both as lifelong students and as teachers.