As a part of this challenge, and feeling challenged with it. I began to clean and clear out my computer. I found an essay I was asked to do for my 2nd mindfulness teacher training 3 years ago.
It was just after my grandmother passed and I wasn't in the academia mindset. But I re-read what I wrote and thought it still fits like a glove.
This is my response to the question Mark and Martin (our teachers) asked.
What does it mean to teach with integrity and depth - for me.
1st assignment Mindfulness TT.
I had to go back and do this over. The past months have been filled with death and family issues that have taken me back to old stories patterns and anger. The past few days intensifying that and I felt like telling mindfulness to go fuck itself. Which is essential for me in how I can teach.
I take it as a sign that as I sit a write this, the mist is so thick outside that I can’t see the house across the street. I feel a little clouded and this is my exploration of that. This is a step deeper into practice, teaching and how I define that for myself. 1500 words may fall short or turn out to be way too many... we will see.
I am sorry for the delay.
Taking the seat or showing up these days is painful. It hurts. Rumination and self-pitty battle with wanting things to be different. Taking the seat is like forcing myself to re-live the grief from old stories and bliss seems to await in crappy TV shows and stuffing my face. And I have asked myself many times why would I want to put myself through that again.
As it spins into a cycle, a dog chasing it’s own tale, what is my practice? In the light of this essay and training - is it mindfulness? No. And then again what is mindfulness.
Even after years with a (mindfulness) practice I still don’t fully know what it is. It is a concept, an idea, a practice that is so many things that a one word label seems off. It creates resistance because I can’t grasp it, I don’t know it.
So to get past being stuck on the word, what it has represented, the value or lack of, I have had to find a way of describing the meaning that feels aligned with me.
Showing up makes sense to me. Showing up means meeting my experience. Showing up means I am not trying to be the Dalai Lama, I am not aiming for enlightenment, it gives me breathing room and space for awareness. I don’t feel obliged to look like I have been touched by an angel or rebel against all of the above. The sense of showing up, opens me up allows me to be exactly as I am. I feel free’er.
I have always been good at adapting language, dialects, styles. When setting down this route, that talent was very visible when it came to teaching. Following a teacher and finding my own style in that process didn’t come natural - to me. The more I taught, the more I was evaluated and the further I feel I have come from the integrity and depth of my own practice. Resistance builded and calling myself a teacher felt like a load of Bull Shit. I was an actor not a teacher.
To begin to explore what teaching is I feel I should look at how I define a teacher - a master of mindfulness. The alter ego. The pruity of awareness and insight. Shoulder shrug - how the hell do you “live up to that”? A different approach is to look at what I feel a teacher is to me.
The last evening at Sharpham brought that forward. Not in your talks or meditations, but when we danced and you both joined. A teacher for me is someone who shows up, let’s go and moves. I am truly inspired by stories. By people who can let loose in a group. When I can feel their presence with me body and not my mind. That is what teaches me.
If I could write out a wish list of what would to bring forward as a teacher it would be trust, letting go of wanting to fix, taking the seat, tapping into my own experience and letting go of what I want to be in that chair.
And this is where I am stuck. I am in tears by my computer and I feel I am pushing myself too hard. My mind is with my grandmother and if I was to take any of my own advice that I would give to a student it would be to listen to that. Taking care of what is important and present is more important than trying to be good.
I would allow myself to go home, crawl under the covers and feel through the sense of loss. Being held by my partner and drinking tea. I would allow myself to let go of shoulds and tasks and show up for what is here within me. I would move my body and connect to what body is in that moment.
Because regardless of any agenda I as a teacher might have had, sensing what is here is essential.
And yet I am not, I am trying to be a good student and get shit done.
I am turning in these words with no clear direction no fine moral or punch-line. But for the past 2 days this is what depth and integrity meant to me.