Whose life are you leading? Are you living your life, or following the herd, doing what the culture, society, your role models or parents demonstrated or even insisted what is right.

It is crucial that we walk our own walk, find our own true and unique path. Otherwise we are merely copycats. Someone said that we are all born originals, but live and die as cheap copies.

Yoga provides a good analogy for this. As a yoga teacher, we discuss and lead various poses also known as asanas. I often remind people that I am guiding or suggesting various poses, some of which have been taught for hundreds or thousands of years, but the key is to listen to their own body and do or not do the pose, or modify the pose, do it in a way that works for their unique body and circumstances.

This is tricky. I’m not just talking about yoga here. Obviously, we can appreciate teachers, or people to show us how to do certain things, ideally people with knowledge, wisdom and experience, and hopefully not too much ego. But what do teachers really know about your body? I’ve been teaching yoga for 15 years, but I still feel the student usually knows more about what is going on in their own body, and therefore the best thing they can learn is to listen to their own truth.

A wonderful yoga teacher named Judith Hanson Lasater said, “Follow your nature. Yoga practice is really about uncovering your own pose. We have great respect for our teachers, but unless we can uncover our own pose in the moment, it’s not practice — it’s mimicry. ”

As a teacher, the best thing I can do is invite people to learn to hear and follow their own truth, or what the body or their spirit and heart are saying. However, one school of thought is that a good teacher has to first sometimes take the autonomy away from a student. By this I mean, if the student is really disconnected from their own body and truth, or if they are really identified with their ego, a good spiritual teacher will first take the lead, get the student’s attention, especially if they are resisting authority and perhaps hurting themselves, or simply if they are off their path. The mind and ego will always lead us astray.

As soon as possible though, give that student back their own autonomy. Again, we don’t want to take anyone’s power away. We want to have people claim their own path and power as soon as they are mature and awake enough to do so.

The other variable is the ego of the teacher. A teacher with a big ego will want as many students as possible. Egos like power and control, or at least the perception of such. So a wise student must watch and witness the consciousness of the teacher, and not give power away to someone who misuses that power, or seeks to control you. The true teacher, in the long run, creates more masters, not more students.

[Photo by pbkwee – CC BY]


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