Sometimes The Best Way To Teach Is To Get Out Of The Way

People often ask me to teach them how to meditate and so I always prefer to give simply the most basic instruction necessary.

In my classes, what I am doing instead of teaching how to meditate is giving you the opportunity to experience it. Holding the space to make it easier or even possible. And I think that counts for a lot.

It happened today when I was leading an Aikido class where a third of the class was made up of black belts who have been training for many years longer than me (talk about intimidating!)

Instead of trying to “teach” them something, I demonstrated a series of familiar techniques and created the opportunity for the experience of vigorous training.

All the students trained according to their own capabilities and the result was a tremendously satisfying class.

Often times when we are in charge of a situation, we feel inclined to instruct to such an extent that our words become a mandate.

This is especially true for me if the person that I am instructing happens to be my teenage daughter. I really really want her to get the information I am giving her so she can learn it already!

But just like the meditation classes and the Aikido class, my best teaching is not teaching at all. It is a thousand times more effective if I give her a few guidelines and hold the space for her to safely experience it on her own.

This is an exceptionally ripe opportunity for paying careful attention to what my intuition is telling me – often it is telling me to Stop Talking!

It can seem unproductive to only give the slightest amount of instruction, but in reality all the words in the world are not nearly as valuable as just doing it.

So maybe you have a situation in your life like that – a child, an employee, a co-worker or a student. Maybe instead of teaching them how to do something, just give them a few choice guidelines and lots and lots of space to safely explore, experiment and experience it for themselves.

Give it a try.


Difficulties Are Sacred

While I was preparing for my Second Degree Black Belt, there was one day in particular that was really difficult and dark. It is hard to describe why, but it was just one of those days when I was struggling, I couldn’t remember any of my skills or techniques and I lost all my confidence.

We were training really hard and I got slammed by the bokken (a wooden sword) a couple of times. So in addition to my frustration, I was sore, bruised and uncomfortable.

When I walked in the door at home after training at the dojo, my head was hanging low and my body was feeling dejected.

But somehow in that place of truth, I knew it was a sacred moment. I knew it was better if I did not “just get through” this time.?? Instead I had to just but be IN it. Stay with it and feel it and allow it to be so. The words or thoughts that “it was all going to be ok” did not help me (even though I knew they were true.)

So without trying to cheer myself up or brush off the struggle and discomfort, I decided to just be in it.

Eventually it went away, the bruises inside and out, my fears, lack of confidence and frustration all worked themselves out by the time I took my test.

I am so glad I stuck with it and allowed myself to feel all the pain as well as the accomplishments.

And on Sunday August 21, I did it – I passed the exam and received my new rank!

Thanks everyone for all the good words of encouragement, I really appreciate it!