As a teacher, it is my responsibility to walk the path of the perpetual student.
As that path has unraveled before my feet, it has not come without obstacles. Stepping into the role of student as teacher means to regularly drop in and explore the self. The problem is, we don’t always like what’s there.
Any good student of life works tirelessly in exploration of their shadow. But it does not go without some level of discomfort that is needed for growth. It is to dive into our deepest, darkest depths in order to unearth clarity about our true natures. The challenge here is to acknowledge what we find with absolute integrity.
Upon diving into my darkest of places, a crippling lack of self-confidence was fully exposed. A deeply troubled voice that doubts everything that I do — especially when that output is creative — lurks there in the shadows. Allowing this observation to bubble to the surface with total transparency and honesty was a tremendous feat.
I’ve spent about 30 years ignoring that voice — standing tall and proud to mask the quivering fear I actually felt inside. But the shadow must not be ignored — its lessons must be honored and embraced wholeheartedly.
The voice of doubt is my salvation. Acknowledging my shadow allows me to be more truthful to myself. I allow myself to doubt, but with the confident voice of reason: I am enough, I’ve done nothing wrong, what I have to say does in fact matter.
There are many good teachers, but to be a great teacher we must take these dark parts of ourselves and bring them into light, bearing them with humility. That’s what will resonate with students and cultivate real transformation.
A friend who came to my class recently said that she loved the “simple reminders” I had to offer — not to be so hard on yourself, and to trust in your practice. That’s when I realized those simple reminders were actually for me, and that’s what made my sharing authentic. This is precisely what we as teachers have to share—the simple reminders we’ve cultivated over the course of our lives. These are reminders to work with our shadow, so that we may persevere our never-ending spiritual path.
This post also appears on teach.yoga