Listen To Your Inner Teacher
When my yoga teacher said these words I realized how learning is a lot about looking inward for guidance
In my yoga class the other day, my teacher urged us to “listen to your inner teacher.” This was said in the context of paying attention to what your body is telling you.
We may be told to stretch a little more, stay a little longer in an asana, or perhaps push our energy levels… But, while all these are external instructions that encourage you to do more and do better, the primary voice you must listen to is that of your inner teacher.
If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right either way.
You know your capabilities better than anyone else. And, as you progress, you will realize that all learning is simply just a process of getting to know yourself better.
Dr Maria Montessori said, “The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self.”
Dr Montessori said this in the context of Montessori education; but, the philosophy of education as a study of one’s self can be applied to every age and stage of learning, and to the journey of life too.
So, here are some ideas on how to finetune yourself and listen to your inner teacher.
1. Figure out your strengths
Focus and work on what is uniquely YOU.
In a class full of yoga students, some are good at backward bends, while some are good at forward bends, and still others are good at inversions or balancing poses.
Each one has their own strengths and limitations… to look left or right is thus meaningless. All you need to do is simply look inward and focus on what your individual strengths are and how you can enhance them.
So keep focussing inward, and know that your path is yours alone to learn and figure out.
2. Be open to surprises
Get ready to discover something new each day.
The process of learning is a slow and steady one. At times, you may be disappointed with your progress, but at times, you may just get surprised… The key though is to keep doing and keep learning.
Before you know it, one fine day, without any inkling, your body or your mind will help you experience that eureka or aha moment.
For me as a writer, this happens when a blog goes viral. As a yoga student, I’ve often experienced it when I suddenly slip into a yoga asana with ease, after having struggled at it for so long.
3. Tap into your innate curiosity
Curiosity is the spark that keeps learning alive.
It’s one thing to start the process of learning, but, to keep at it every day one needs a constant state of curiosity… Only when you keep questioning how and why something should be done, will you push yourself to practice more of what you learn.
Tapping into that innate curiosity not only comes from asking questions, but also from reading and researching more, interacting with experts in the field, and generally doing everything you can to understand the different facets of the subject you are learning.
The more knowledge you have, the richer and more diverse will your range of experiences be in that area of learning.
4. Understand how to learn
To learn how to learn is an education that frees you.
One way of learning is to simply do what is being taught by instruction or observation; the other is to understand why you are doing what you are doing in a certain way and not in any other way.
This is when you move to the next level and learn about the technique of doing something rather than just doing it mechanically. When you focus more on technique than the end result, you become a more conscious learner, self-correcting without any external aids.
5. Correct yourself, often
Errors and mistakes are part of the learning process, but they need to be identified and worked upon.
While the two words are used interchangeably, there is a notable difference in their meanings…
A mistake is normally a performance error that may have taken place due to an oversight, carelessness, etc. An error, on the other hand, is a reflection of a faulty learning system itself, where something has been taught or learned incorrectly.
Thus, conscious learning is about identifying whether something you’re doing wrong is an error or just a mistake and taking corrective action in both cases. Should you “relearn” or “unlearn” is thus a question you must ask yourself through the learning process.
6. Define your “normal”
Erase ideas of “old” or “new normal”, figure out your own version of “normal”.
Just like children in their early developmental years, each of us has different ways of thinking, learning, and doing what we wish to do. The idea of a “normal” or standard way of learning and living is thus a redundant one.
Learning, just like everything else nowadays, is all about customization.
It’s about understanding what your individual needs are and finding ways to meet them. In yoga, some schools use props, while others don’t, and both are now accepted ways of teaching and learning. So, as the trending phrase goes — “you do you,” and choose what works for you.
7. Sometimes, just listen
To learn, first, listen with an open heart and mind.
So often we have narratives going on in our heads while the other is talking… Are we truly listening with our full hearts and minds? Are we able to put aside our own questions, before we even completely imbibe what the other has to teach?
If we can’t listen to another with our full being, can we then truly listen to ourselves, and the inner teacher guiding us in the direction of our true calling?
For this, one needs to first silence the mind, and tune into that inner compass that helps us progress on our chosen paths.
8. Commit to growth
Be growth-oriented rather than goal-oriented.
A commitment to learning is essentially a commitment to growth. It’s a commitment to working toward all those tiny processes that help us construct, deconstruct and reconstruct ourselves.
Thus, when we commit to growth, it becomes difficult to put a clear timeline to the outcomes… We have to simply take one small step at a time, knowing that the journey itself is a way to realize our true potential.
The reasoning mind may want to quantify growth, but the learning mind knows that the results of learning will manifest themselves in different ways.
Our only job as life students then is to be open to new experiences and allow them to unfold the lessons they do. Our life lessons may finally tie back to our learnings, and that’s when you know that the dots of life do join together… But, for that, you need to “listen to your inner teacher.”
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