The Fun in Failing

For most of us the student teacher relationship ended when we left school. Whether that was high school, university, or post grad. After formal education we stop looking for teachers and go out in to the world convinced we know enough. It’s rare that we slow down enough to see what is needed and from whom we can continue to learn.

As a yoga practitioner, you are always a student, even when you’re a yoga teacher, your students become your teachers.

I’m halfway through an incredible experience apprenticing with one of my yoga teachers. It has to be one of the most educational experiences of my life, even more so than my two post-graduate masters programs where I wrote about other people’s research and findings. Having someone work one-on-one with you to refine a skill is an incredible opportunity and I am eternally grateful for my extremely patient, funny and caring mentor.

One of the things I’m working on currently is failing.

The way the program works is that you ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ assignments. Often when you fail it isn’t that you completely bombed (though that is sometimes the case), it’s often that you are refining your teaching skills, learning to become more economical with your words and, in my case, starting to slow down your instruction.

Getting used to failing is not an easy task, but it is a way to learn a lot about yourself.

I’m someone who likes to tick things off my list. When I first started the program and was failing assignments it was easy. I knew I had plenty of time to get through everything and I would eventually see improvement – and now part of the way through – it’s beginning to feel like it may never end and that progress may not be possible.

It’s hard to accept that even though you are working hard at something you aren’t seeing a lot of progress and there’s a large ‘F’ hanging over your head, but in reality it isn’t failure.

I usually have every minute of every day planned out. I make sure no hour is wasted. I thrive on busy, but I’m not someone who uses it as an excuse. When I lived in the NYC area this was the norm, but now I’m trying to learn to balance that type of scheduling for my professional life, with a less structured and more fluid personal life.

My mentor was reading from a book ‘When things fall apart’ by Pema Chodron in her classes recently and her words really resonated with me:

 “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

I fell in love with these words.

The point for me is not to pass my apprenticeship and stop failing, it’s to become the best teacher I can so I can share a practice, which is so instrumental in my life, with other students.

Even though at the moment there looks like there is no end in sight, I know that’s not true and that soon I’ll be mourning the fact that it’s over.

I’ve found that there is almost a satisfaction in failing. A feeling of opportunity that you will be able to improve next time. That no matter what happens you’ve learned something.

The more we see our failings as the chance to try it a different way, whether that’s in love, friendships, work … or our 800 hour yoga apprenticeship – the more opportunity we have to grow in ways that we may not have known were possible.

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