Every single thing we know, we have been taught. All our knowledge we owe to the kindness of others sharing theirs or a life experience that forced us inward to learn something we just weren’t getting. It’s usually our parents that have taught us all the basics, I mean the real basics, like the walking and talking and stuff. If you’re lucky like I am with mine, they teach you a large amount of life lessons too, to save the struggle of learning it all for ourselves. Then there are teachers like our friends and deep loves, the kinds that break your heart. Teachers like random interactions with strangers and the messages smuggled into our childhood storybooks. The teachers whose job description is to teach, along with my favourite kind – the yoga teachers. All of which build up an invaluable amount of lessons that we take or leave.
More often than not, when left to our own devices we tend to make the same mistakes that we’ve been warned about, in order to really understand what they meant. It’s like the brain understands but the heart doesn’t until its felt it for itself and I would like to think our hearts our infinitely more powerful. Once you’ve felt the weight of the lesson in your heart, you’ve learnt it. Inevitably, in accord with the universe we end up being some of our own greatest teachers. The universe creates a situation that often feels like turmoil at its worst. We mumble somewhere along the lines of, ‘Why is this happening to me’ and ‘I don’t deserve this’. Have you ever thought it may not be happening TO you, but rather FOR you? That instead of being the victim, you’re the lead role. Once all has subsided we kind of sit back and go, oh – that’s why that happened and if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t know what I know now. In hindsight, we are grateful for the turmoil and the clarity it gave us. If you feel like the same bad shit is happening to you over and over again, look for the parallels. The universe will never stop throwing it at you until you’ve learnt whatever lesson is being masked by it all. Sit and reflect. Become conscious and detach yourself from what you think something is, notice where there is space to grow.
As we stand (or sit, if its been a long day I hope you’re sitting) right now, we are a culmination of everything we know and a vacancy of lessons we haven’t learnt yet. In essence our lessons create us and if it weren’t for the lessons, we couldn’t teach. Without the teachers in every form we would have no knowledge to impart and probably not much to give.
I think all of this is why I teach, to help and share and keep growing myself. To impart love and knowledge and let my students teach me back. Its just an influx of give and take, of inhales and exhales. I think one without the other would turn to crumble; it’s the string between the two that makes it so complexly necessary and it may just be why we’re all here.
And now it’s back to me (Dom):
Ellie has touched beautifully on the nature of the lessons we learn in this life, and if there is anything I have learnt so far it is that I know absolutely nothing. We learn as much from the positive, inspiring moments in this life as we do from the muck and the mess. We never stop learning, ever. In fact, if I am honest I think I have learnt more from the shittier times in my life than the good. The minute that you get comfortable, or feel like you’ve got something waxed – something will come along and prove you wrong. Life has this way of tipping everything upside down and laughing at you while you pick up the pieces again. But sometimes these moments (in fact all times, what am I saying) it is the most painful moments in life that teach us the biggest lessons – if we allow it. If we do not, we’ll keep on having the same experiences until we do.
It goes against our nature to move towards discomfort. As human beings we are pre-programmed to be pleasure seekers; there’s no right or wrong in that, it simply is. And so we avoid the discomfort, we move away from it, we wriggle out of it, we cover it up, we try to numb it. That’s why, sometimes, I think we get stuck in perpetual cycles of (for want of another beautifully worded yogi term) shit. It’s because for whatever reason we haven’t learnt our lesson yet. We try to look outward for a reason why these things happen, rather than getting curious and looking towards ourselves, looking for the lesson. In the space of 12 months of working in the big bad working world I worked for a place that closed down, I quit a job that didn’t give me what I needed, I found what I thought was my dream job only to get retrenched, I freelanced and ultimately became my own boss by opening my own Yoga studio (still WTF) with the most beautiful soul I was lucky enough to meet (or maybe re-meet) along the way. Whenever I thought I was gaining a bit of momentum this would happen…
and/or a little bit of this…
But on the reals. Each time things like this happen, it still shakes me, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. But each time I fall flat on my face, I take a moment to lie in the dirt, in the muck of it all and just take a pause.
Because sometimes you just have to allow yourself to be in it.
To feel it, to really feel all of it.
Then you take a deep breath.
And then another and another and another.
You dust yourself off and you pick yourself back up and you find a way to move forwards. Because even if you can’t understand right now, know that it really is happening FOR you and not TO you. I am so grateful for all those moments that shook me so badly because I learnt more about myself in those moments than I have in any others. Those moments that shake you to your very core can actually be the most beautiful because they allow you to see yourself for who you really are. They wake you up to what it’s important. They wake you up to you.
I am often quite surprised by some of the things that come out of my mouth in a yoga class. More often than not it’s a cue like “right elbow to right armpit” which is legitimately anatomically impossible and my students have no problem laughing louder than me laughing at myself when I do it… but sometimes, just sometimes I think I manage to make some sort of sense. Something I say often (other than the mess of watching one poor, diligent student trying to get their right elbow to their right armpit) is that you are your ultimate teacher. My Yoga taught me that. It took it’s time and I am still learning – every single day. I learn from myself. I learn from my students. I learn from the people around me and I know for a fact I will never stop learning. I have a few ideas about why we are all here, in this life, and I am completely certain that one of the reasons is that we all have our lessons to learn and anyone who thinks that they are beyond learning is quite simply not paying attention.
What have been your greatest lessons? We’d love to hear from all of you wonderful humans.