What is Being Taught is Not Always the Lesson.

Posted on Posted in Be Enlightened., Be Informed., Be Inspired., Be Well.
Photo: K. Armstrong
Photo: K. Armstrong (2013 WakeUp Festival)

So many times in life we search; constantly looking. And in doing this it’s sometimes easy prey to grasp a hold of objects, ideas, or even people that seem to be close to what we’re searching for. But, as the old adage goes, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and atomic weapons.

You must find what speaks to you; what moves you.

There’s a basic common sense buried in this idea, and an idea we’ve heard time and time again: follow your heart.

I had the privilege of sharing some space, albeit limited—but that’s another topic–, in an intensive workshop on Qigong at this year’s WakeUp Festival. In a room full of seekers, fellow teachers, and perhaps even a few simply curious participants, I was reminded that each and every one of us harbors ideas and histories that differ from those around us; in these ideas and histories is the matter which makes us individuals.

The more I focused on this idea, the more something else became abundantly clear; not everyone in the room was going to take away the same lesson.

Much like in examples of art we can perceive things differently–one person may only perceive the storm in Gericault’s ‘Raft of Medusa’ while another may focus on only the grimaces of death born on the faces of the raft’s expired occupants—it’s important to also understand in every moment of life we can perceive things differently.

This isn’t a quandary of perception; it’s simply individual perception. And instead of allowing it to restrain you, allow it to inspire you. Allow what-ever it is to reach down in and tell you, and only you, what you wish to know.

You are in charge of what you learn, and it’s quite important that you assume this charge. Just because an instructor offers you a direction, does not mean—always—that unilateral obedience is required in order for you to gain something from the teaching; your sequence back to downward dog may be slower, your way of writing may take more reflection; simply put, your needs are, and will be, different.

In the aforementioned workshop, one hosted by Robert Peng, you could hear the sighs of people finding something in his method. You could see in the smiles, or closed eyed concentration, the personal discovering of a path leading to contentment. Witnessing this energy is a unique experience; even more so when that energy escapes you.

But that is the lesson: understanding that what works for some need not work for you. This applies in methods of practice; be it yoga, meditation, or any other contemplative practice. It applies in creative endeavors; just because others may find inspiration in coffee shops doesn’t mean you need to. It applies in every action you take: try it, when you are about to make a choice, any choice, ask yourself if this is what you need.

You are unique. Your requirements are different. Understand this and allow others to follow their own paths too; trust me, it’ll be liberating.



Shane in forest-ele journalShane is a manifestation of past actions. In this revolution he’s: traveled the world; dropped-out of law school, seminary, and an MFA; focusing instead on art, writing, and somatics.

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