Blog 2: Lessons From A Beginner

As I recently navigated the cosmos of social media (Canva, Ripl, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress etc etc), I was reminded of that great Aussie commercial where the guy enters a milk bar and is asked whether he wants “full cream, low fat, no fat, lactose free, skim (i.e. a million and one types of milk varieties) and he simply answers “I just want real milk.” . . . I’m with him! I just want real yoga and yet, it’s apparently not quite that simple when it comes to teaching. Thousands of years ago in India – YES! Now it’s a different story  . . . and so, this is how my most recent lesson on being a beginner began. Try saying that fast ten times!

Whilst delving into Narnia (the nether regions of my website), I discovered that it really is very different once you open the door, wander in far enough to lose sight of your exit and then take those first adventurous steps onto the snow. The further you step away from the known, the greater the learning becomes. This takes some courage (as opposed to confidence which we know only happens AFTER you step outside your comfort zone.) Please remember that! Anyway, as an independent traveller; the world over, I was surprised to find myself ill-prepared; without a jacket for the icy conditions and effectively mute to the language and logic of this new territory. So, I did what I always do –I set a goal, started working towards it and kept going until it was done . . . Great right?

Nope. Not this time! That well-loved, loyal strategy didn’t work in Narnia and I hadn’t yet bumped into Tumnus. Again and again (like Einstein’s definition of insanity) I repeated the same approach whilst quite righteously expecting a different result. Meanwhile I became more and more frustrated with my inner dialogue that was screaming “Why can’t I get this? I’m sure there’s a simple way. I should be able to do this easily. Heaps of people do this. It’s not brain surgery” (although I personally suspect it’s actually the modern day version in terms of complexity;) After a good four hours of ‘walking in circles’, I decided to take a break, enjoy the sun and sit under a tree. Exit Narnia.

As I did, the moment met me. I took a few deep breaths, felt my feet on the grass, sun on my back and quietened the mind. Following the lead of the lemon tree I sat beneath; I practised being without agenda or commentary. As I sat silently, it occurred to me that human beings are more similar (than not) to our companions in nature. After all, what is the purpose of a lemon tree if not to grow! Is it possible that humans have an equally simple purpose?

Some time passed as I sat there enjoying the peace and three questions blossomed . . .

What do I need to BE?

What do I need to DO?

What do I need to HAVE to work through this situation?

As naturally as the questions arose, so too did the answers . . . Be: a beginner. Do: let go of your ego and ask for assistance. Have: patience and kindness with your Self as you learn. These three questions; affectionately termed ‘Be Do Have’ in coaching circles, allowed me to realise my place in the learning trajectory: a beginner! Once I accepted it, the rest was easy as there is always someone who knows more and someone who knows less. Sometimes we are the teacher and at other times, we are the student. Being able to oscillate between both as the situation requires allows life to bring beautiful lessons our way with ease.

I do love (admittedly in retrospect;) how the universe has such an apt way of teaching us the very thing that we most need to learn, at exactly the appropriate time. There I was creating web content for a Beginner’s Yoga Course advising students to start wherever they are, to work within the range they have, to ask for assistance and to be patient with themselves. The answers were right in front of me the whole time!

What do you need to BE, DO, HAVE right now? Feel free to share your insights with me.

Sat Nam,