From teacher to mentor
BeYond (the Binary), Keys, Purpose(s), Self Care
February 25th, 2021
I was asked last year to write about what it means to be a teacher in these shifting times, and it was incredible to see how much resistance I carried around this. I realize now it was because I was processing and releasing all that pained me in how I was taught to be a teacher, as well as how I was reflecting on how it didn’t align with where I was heading. This post is purely my personal experience on transitioning from teacher to mentor, and may it be food for thought for the great teachers that still dedicate themselves to sharing knowledge to others. You are needed, most definitely, and I honour all that you are and do.
I was always a reluctant teacher. Reluctant to take the title, reluctant to step into that role. But at the time, that was the only way I saw how to connect and grow a community. So, I trained for years, practiced slowly in building my teaching skills, while simultaneously processing the self-reflection that came in relations of teacher to student, teacher to teacher, and myself to ego. I don’t speak much on ego, for most of the time, what is described as ego, tends to be a self-sustaining and protective energy measure for self to buffer self from seeing the traumas and beliefs that are asking to shift. Yes, at times it can halt the healing process if the buffer is strong enough. Keeping one stuck in a reality (current personal perspective) and limiting the possibility of shifting said reality with ease. But I understand it is a protective measure. We are all healing from a capitalist system that has valuated our self worth with our capacity to be productive, become an expert, or have the ability to prove our worth and to be the best.
My first work as a teacher was in yoga. A personal spiritual practice I was introduced to in childhood, and how it made sense to naturally grow into the offered trainings to share my passion for self growth and inquiry in a collective setting. I learned over my time in the educational system to be a good student. I learned that I could do well in society’s standards (grades, accolades, etc.) if I fired up my level of studentship. From being in a family that shared an imbalance of spiritual interest disconnected from a difficulty in acquiring financial growth, I first learned how a spiritual path, or a path of your own choosing would not be supported by the capitalist system within our society. I learned that I would either struggle or learn how to ‘best the system’ by working hard and acquiring the necessary know-how to ‘make it’. So, it pained my family to see how I still chose after getting the good grades, and showing my potential to work within the system, to teach yoga.
I did not see at the time how I was being taught to teach reflected this same system. But it was heavily disguised with the teachings of the ‘guru principle’. This principle, simply put, was that a teacher was one who brought someone from the darkness (not-knowing) into the light (known). It began in an era of where this was needed, where there was less awareness and consciousness than what is now accessible on the planet. The guru though, was not a simple teacher-student relationship in a capitalist industry. It shared of a history of a disciple sitting, living and being with a teacher for years, cultivating a relationship, and learning over time by practice, actions and conversation. But our current society taught of certifications, expertise, and learning for expected outcomes. For we had to have accumulated proof of our knowledge in order for it to be listened to or accepted. So, I studied, and trained, and acquired multiple certifications. At a time, I saw how all the funds I made from teaching, and more, would be funneled into more training, so I could be the ‘best at what I do’. I learned that if I did not do this, students who were trained in a system of ‘new, fast and better’, would get bored at slow progress, and move elsewhere for fast results, or multiple ‘aha’ moments. This cycle cultivated teachers to ensure they ‘knew it all’, and who could better share their tools and skills, and make it a consistently exciting learning environment as possible. I became a minstrel, a pied piper, a court jester. It took an immense amount of energy and maintained a constant self-harming standard of perfection ever present.
I remember to this day an example of this. I studied from a well-known senior teacher, who shared with me so much knowledge, wisdom and practices from our years together. But as we know, no matter how much knowledge acquired, sometimes something just doesn’t ‘click’ until our whole being has processed the blocks. This was highlighted in my inability to do arm balances with the teacher. It was a huge struggle that my exemplary studentship simply couldn’t fix. I knew exactly what and how I was supposed to do it, but still, something just did not compute. It wasn’t until a weekend workshop with another well-respected teacher that it finally clicked within me. That weekend I was able to do them all! I then looked to my teacher who shared so much in our years together to share in the excitement of me finally getting it! But I was surprised to not see a look of joy in the teacher’s eyes, but a look of failure and hurt. They couldn’t get over the fact that after all the time invested in me, I received the ‘aha’ moment from someone else. I carry this memory for I remember that feeling multiple times showing up in my time as a teacher. The self-beratement that would follow, in what did I miss, what did I need to improve in how I shared of the topic to get better results. Being a teacher was so results-oriented, for we had the looming threat over many of our heads, that if there wasn’t satisfaction or incredible ‘aha’ moments received under our tutelage, that we would lose students, get a poor review, etc.
This was in direct opposition to what I was taught about karma (rightful action) in my yoga studies. Of how karma was the doing, the work, the action without expectation of the outcome. It was simply making the tea to make the tea, not to make the perfect tea. As my years of teaching progressed, I then got involved with Reiki. Another system of training I could work through levels towards that of Reiki Master. I moved through the self-healing with vigor (I always have been an athlete of self study and practice), I practiced and then offered Reiki to others. Over the years, I then got to the Reiki Master level, and then added this to my teaching. Reiki was an open ticket for me to further explore my energy medicine. As the blockages cleared, I explored my personal gifts of channeling, mediumship and divination practices that surfaced. I also witnessed the resistance I experienced in my own fabulously crafted barriers be reflected in some who came to train in Reiki. I learned in my years of teaching, that in my role of a teacher, I at times would not be ‘liked’. For the resistance and harm that surfaces to heal, had an incredible reflection shared in the teacher. At times, in seeing a new perspective that the student may not have been completely ready for, the hurt felt would be deflected to the teacher. I had to process that and come to terms with it. To accept that the role of a teacher was a relationship and reflection at times with self that both teacher and student may not be ready to accept.
The more I taught Reiki (I shared teachings for about 9 years in total), I processed and healed within each round of training, I faced the multiple protective layers of my ego, and began to feel a similar resistance to the title of “master”. I knew I was on a path of self-mastery but could no longer share teachings to how by this level of certification you would become a master. It fed this same capitalist system that I was healing from, that was embedded in mind, body and so many barriers to all that is true self. That by this time you would be an expert – on what? On an energy that is constantly changing, transcending, and growing? The one key that I witnessed was movement. The guarantee was that energy would always be moving, expanding, and shifting. Which then shared how self, our energy being, personality and identity is promised to continuously shift and change. How could I teach of something that promised constant change? How could I encourage a humility in the cycles of transcendence, shifts of perspective and being?
Then came my first people who connected with me for mentorship – teenagers (with agreements and boundaries shared by their parents). It was my first experience in long-term (2 year) commitments of support. I first took all my know-how from teaching well over a decade, all my skills and tools gained, and threw them into this work. But as I learned over time, these teens were not needing another teacher. Another voice to tell them what to do. I learned to listen more, to soften the intensity of short-term accomplishments. I witnessed how mentoring was a potent solution to my challenges with my role as teacher or master. It showed how I could show up and be present during the challenges, failures, changes and successes. How I could truly feel the shared excitement and allow for celebration when the ‘aha’ moments were received, no matter who these came from. I got comfortable in the awareness that I did not have to be their one and only. That with support over time, and multiple cycles of healing and growth, I could witness more personal agency within these teens, more courage for them to make their own choices and to learn from them. I would share guidance when needed and was able to be there to see that over time, with the space given for personal agency and responsibility, the incredible transformations and perspective shifts that didn’t come from me, but grew from within them.
As I began to expand my mentoring services to adults, I experienced a direct need to first share with those in budding relations how this work was to increase personal responsibility, to truly foster their power of choice, and how it may take more time than a couple weekends. Of how the practice sometimes came after the shifts, in fostering new ways of communicating needs and boundaries. Of how at times, we may need space of a season, or more, to give the time apart for practice in accountability of actions and communications within their life. It allowed for me to continue to grow, expand, heal and transcend without having the pressure of exacting a specific outcome in a certain timeframe – for both of us. It allowed me to witness and participate in true growth of self. In seeing powerful changes of perspective, actions and growth of capacity reveal themselves. It allowed me to see that ‘aha’ moments came from an accumulation of healing and expansion over time.
I am enamored by how I finally found a role that could allow for the constant of movement and change. Of how I could allow whole, vulnerable, multi-faceted self be present. Of how I could participate in cultivating and nourishing more long-term relationships with those I work with. Of how releasing the role of teacher and moving into that of mentor, gave me peace to practice reciprocity, as I gently laid to rest the layers that were ready to go as I healed further from the capitalist system. Do you know how many people share as they journey into sharing their truth and gifts in service with others, how the big doubts are if they are healed enough to do so, or if they are aligned enough in their true self to offer to others their passion? All I can share at present is that the journey of self in relations to all, heals you along the way. The courage to step out and share of self in the chaos of now can be difficult to say the least. But isn’t it soothing to know you don’t have to be perfect? That over cycles of time and in the space between, you can continue to transcend those stuck places of perfection and allow whole self to show up in the constantly shifting process?
May we nurture longer-term relations. May we allow the time required to move through our traumas and beliefs. May we enjoy support along the way that comes from one constant – movement. In the times of shedding and gathering more of who we truly are. In respect and honour of who we are Now.
So, go out an explore! All that you are with the multiple connections that feel familiar in the now. To accumulate all that is needed in your state of wholeness, in acceptance that there may be more to be healed, more to know, and more to celebrate. May we honour the multiple pathways to self that are present. May we enjoy the many relations we have and release the ones that no longer serve. I give gratitude to all the teachers, mentors and students that have led me to my present connection to self and the earth. I apologize to those that I have harmed as I have healed my traumas and beliefs, and endeavour to have more courage to communicate when harm is felt while carrying compassion for the other’s personal path.
I am here if you wish to foster relations in a container of our co-creation, a mentor’ship’. I know that not all may feel ready for relations that last a month, a season, or more. Hence, I promise to still share services of guidance and energy medicine when needed. I am grateful to also find how mentoring can be related not just to an individual but can be shared in circle. Where the courage to traverse self choices, greater personal agency and your own path can be supported and amplified. Over time. May we venture further on our paths, in truth. May we honour as we do so, our capacity to face the dragon – to see the aspects of ourselves that we have protected ourselves from. So we can gently heal from these old traumas and beliefs, and practice new ways of communication and relations from perspectives beyond the binaries. To all my relations. Aho!