Why is it that we have expectations of our teachers and mentors? It seems that sometimes we put them on a pedestal and expect them to be more than human. Perhaps it is because we see them as better than us and when they falter, we are shocked that they are actually just like us. I have experienced this a few times in the yoga world. There have only been a couple of teachers that I would call my mentors over the last ten years of practicing and last five years of teaching yoga. I called them my teachers because I felt blessed to have been taught and led by them. They have all inspired me to be great.
It is odd because I have never been the type of person who sought out a mentor. But for some reason on this yogic path I have sought out mentors. Perhaps because I have learned more from these teachers than any book has ever been able to teach me. Additionally, yoga is all about union. By actually connecting with my teachers, sharing who I am, my fears, stories, greatness and everything in between with them, has allowed for deep connections. It is interesting because I have found that over the years I have sought out their approval and validation of me as a fellow teacher. I sought their approval because I saw them as better than me. If they thought I was good enough, then I must be. Don’t we all do that? It starts with our parents, our first real teachers, and it continues on through our schooling and perhaps in mentoring relationships. Again, it goes back to the ego and the universal story of not being good enough. If we felt fine just as we were, we would not seek out this validation.
My recent awakening was that our teachers are human beings just like us. They falter and judge just like the rest of us and that is okay because they are us (no better, no worse). It is easy to fall into “Oh I thought they were different or special.” Why? They are just like us. I think we have to have expectations so that when they don’t live up to our expectations, it is a learning opportunity for us. It is an opportunity to see that we are all the same, no one greater than the next, no one more special than the next. It also teaches us that we don’t need validation or approval from anyone because we are all on the same level.
I never thought I would say this but…I want to thank all my teachers who have not lived up to my expectations because you have taught me the greatest lesson of all…we are all spiritual beings on a human journey with many flaws. I am sure that as a teacher to many I will also have the opportunity of teaching this lesson to some of my fellow students. But hopefully not too many