We’ve all heard the Buddhist adage ‘when the student is ready the teacher arrives.’ Those of you who are familiar with my recent twitter feed, will know that I love to #reframe old stories, sayings and pearls of wisdom to challenge our approach to life generally.
Reframing our perceptions of our teachers
When young, we are taught that teachers are in educational establishments – in schools and universities. As we enter the world of work, that shifts those who train us and manage us in our day to day work situations.
As we move through life, teachers will appear everywhere, all around us – from our families to the person who sweeps the road so carefully and diligently on our morning walk; multi-tasking by offering a bright ‘good morning.’ Remember that it’s not just your elders who are here to teach you, look to those much younger than you, too. Children remind us to live through ‘play’, laugh with careless abandon and find joy in the most simple things.
Flick back through the chapters of your book of life
What fascinates me is that we all have different teachers in life. It would be wonderful if we could each record in our book of life the teachers who have come to us and recognise ‘when’ they appeared and ‘why’ they came at that particular time. I have many notable teachers, outside those in education. First and foremost, my parents who taught me how to love, give gratitude, care for others and to work hard, regardless. The lessons of our parents, grandparents, siblings were not exhaustive, these lessons continue as we grow.
I lived in a small town in Japan with an English speaking doctor
If I look beyond the immediate family, there are some teachers in my life who stand out. At the age of twenty-one I moved to Japan – Lady luck had my back. Out of the thousands of towns I could have moved to, I landed in Sakado-shi in Saitama-ken, a tiny backwater village, commuting distance from Tokyo. I can remember my parents saying: “Oh it’ll be easy to get to Tokyo should you need medical care”.
Low and behold, day one in Sakado I discovered that the local doctor, Dr Hayashi was a fluent English speaker, and a foreigner himself. Was that luck, was it serendipity? Whatever it was, he has been one of the most important teachers of my life. A specialist in internal medicine and a believer in stress reduction he helped me to deal with Crohn’s whilst living in a foreign land. The stars were most certainly aligned and I must have been ready.
Since then, there have been many teachers along my path, from alternative practitioners, to yoga and meditation teachers, to the authors of books I have read and courses I have taken. Many have been less traditional teachers, but teachers all the same, The lessons I have learnt have been no less valuable than those from traditional educational establishments.
Let your life reflect the lessons you’ve learnt
Which moves me on to what I’ve learnt from teachers in my life and how I have taken on the ‘lessons learned’ by interweaving them into daily life to live those lessons day to day. Many of these lessons have become daily rituals and mantras.
From David Lefebvre Sell’s teachings I‘ve developed a daily meditation practice that keeps me sane in what can sometimes be an insane world. From David, Matt Gluck and Dorna Djenab and Stephanie Shanti I’ve embraced yoga which offers the chance to marry my body and mind when the hustle and bustle of daily life can sometimes cause me to disconnect. That’s not forgetting my dear friend, Tori who introduced me to yoga in the first place. And, last but by no means least, consultant dietician Dr Miranda Lomer MBE and nutritionist Rhiannon Baker who taught me that careful and mindful eating offers the opportunity to calm Crohn’s, the dis ease that will be with me for life, which I would prefer to sit on my back seat rather than drive me.
Teachers are all around us, on the pages of books that we read
From Confucius and Mencius I”ve learnt that daily habits can maketh man, they lend an opportunity to change your life.
From Rumi, I’ve learnt that ‘when the morning breeze awakes you, don’t go back to sleep.’ Early morning, is a magical time when you sneak around, under the radar and can do things without the rest of the world even blinking an eye. You can achieve a lot before the daily routine kicks in. One of my favourite reads, the Miracle Morning offers a wealth of ways to fill that precious morning time.
Reframing our perceptions of traditional lessons
If so many invaluable lessons have come from others, it begs the question of what we are here to teach ourselves?
When you are ready, you will recognise the wealth of knowledge and learning you have to share with yourself and others
As you look back to identify who have been the most influential teachers in your life, I’d encourage you to do the same with the biggest events that have happened to you.
- Did you get sick? If so, what was your body trying to teach you?
- Did you have an accident? If so, what was the lesson in that?
- Did you fall in love? What did you learn from that person?
At the time of these events, we are so focussed on the immediacy of what’s happening, good or bad, we don’t always see the message. If you step back, and look, you will likely recognise a lesson. When we look behind the appearance of life and what happens to us, there is a treasure trove of learning to be found. Gurus don’t always live in far off lands, sometimes they do but they are also closer than you think – near or far they can guide us to our learning.
Embrace your inner guru and practice daily learning sets!
Perhaps your most influential guru is right before your eyes, looking back at you in the mirror. Ask it questions, be the silent observer and see and listen for your own lessons, after all, when the student is ready the teacher arrives.