Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Receptivity of Studentship

I've had a great week of teaching this theme which is dear to my heart.  Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Dan John, who is a creative master in his field of weight training for athletes and special military forces.  Dan is also an Olympic-class athlete and a Highland Games champion.  He is in his prime, traveling the world sharing his foundational system for fitness and strength training.  Patrick has been training with one of his students here in Arcata and feels stronger and more fit than he has  in the last 11 years.

What I appreciated the most about Dan was his receptivity, humility, curiosity and honesty.  He was interested in yoga, and liked the little lesson he got from Patrick, so I offered to teach him a full private lesson before he left on Monday and he was thrilled.   He was a wonderful student;  he took notes, asked great questions, and earnestly tried to implement everything I offered him, which was a lot!  He wanted to know all about the 5 Universal Principles of Alignment of Anusara Yoga, and loved the three A's of Attitude, Alignment and Action.  

I was reflecting later that with all his knowledge, I was quite impressed at his great humility and curiosity as my student.  He was completely receptive and open to all I had to say,  like water receives salt, he took it and let it mix inside of him.  In our yoga school, when we discuss studentship, or what it means to be a good student, receptivity is high on the list.   As the Dalai Lama says, if you're already a full cup, then anything that gets poured in, just spills over; it has no where else to go.   In order to receive, you must empty yourself out and let somebody else, or the teachings, or your experiences, fill you up.  Dan was a great model for this, considering he was so full already of such great wisdom and experience, he could have come to me with a full cup or a strong ego ready to tell me how his method was just as good, impress me with his own facts, etc.  But instead, he emptied himself out so he could let me fill him up.  And it was fun.  

A great teacher must be a great student and I could see that in Dan.  He wouldn't be where he is today without his dedicated studentship.  When we are receptive and open to receiving from others, we can then integrate what is offered into our own experience and understanding.  And I have a hunch this is what Dan will do.  

These qualities of receptivity, humility and curiosity are also paramount in our intimate relationships.   When we are given feedback, if we can fully listen and cultivate wonder (adbutha), then we can ask more questions instead of thinking we have all the answers.  We can open ourselves to the possibility of learning from what we're given instead of closing down with defensiveness or anger.  If we immediately defend or think we have the answers, then our cup is full and there is no intimacy, no connection, no room for growth, just a shield.  

May you cultivate receptivity, humility and curiosity.  May you become a great student of your own mind, of relationship, and of life.  And may all being benefit.

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