The #3 Common Mistakes Teachers Make: The Seat of the Teacher
Our fabulous OMbassador, Shakti Sunfire, teaches yoga and hooping around the world. Many of our followers are teachers of dance, yoga and other movement arts. Shakti wrote this just for you, as a few tips on what to avoid when teaching.
To take the seat of the teacher is to self-own and self-resource FIRST. Before anyone else can believe in you and will want to learn from you, you have to believe in yourself. In that way it is a fundamental giving of PERMISSION for you to occupy the role of teacher completely, unapologetically and wholeheartedly.
When I first began to teach - scratch that - for YEARS after I began teaching I struggled with nerves. I would shake and tremble when speaking, I would spend hours that day prepping what I wanted to say, and it’d all go out the window anyway. I wouldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep well. i’d have dreams about flopping, disappointing the promoters and my students, loosing the opportunity. Letting myself down. I was all over the map.
I would regularly say to my teachers and friends who encouraged me relentlessly;
“whatever you see in me, I don’t see it in myself.”
I felt uncoordinated, unworthy, small... and what I didn’t know then, but I certainly know now is that what I was really focused on and concerned about was being judged. What I was really concerned about was the chance that this offering - this HEART craft - be minimized, belittled and laughed at.
What I didn’t know then, but I know now is that I was really good at giving my power away and believing myself less-than, like an impostor in my own skin.
Nine years later and I look back on those times and sorely wish that someone had told me what I’m about to tell you...
To teach masterfully requires you to have a deep-seated knowing that your visions, ambitions and offerings as a teacher have a place in the world...and a purpose. That is what fuels you. That is the power behind your words that exudes charisma and clarity. It will keep you living, breathing, speaking, acting and dancing YOUR truth in a way that serves the whole.
To teach masterfully is to meet your students in service of them - that really it’s not about you and whether or not you’re perfect, or whether or not you look good up there, nor how deep your words are. In fact, what self-owning is NOT is to think yourself perfect, the best, or without shortages and to reprimand yourself when your humanity shows through.
Only YOU can give yourself permission to fully and completely take the seat of the teacher. It is a glorious seat - one of deep fulfillment and a real sense of purpose, AND it is also a seat full of personal and collective responsibility, humility and exposure to high wind and weather.
As a Master Teacher You Will Need:
- magnetic appeal/charisma
- powerful voice projection
- to command an audience
- to inspire respect
Sometimes As a Teacher You Will Get:
- pulled in many directions
- projected upon with energy and emotion that isn’t yours!
- placed in uncomfortable positions for you
- less than ideal classroom settings
All of these things are solved or resourced from the seat of the teacher in your heart. You can think of it like the deep roots that can weather any storm and that are constantly drawing energy, nutrition, life-sustenance and insight from an unseen source. If you cultivate the capacity to access this source you will be able to compost ANY ENERGY that comes your way - good or bad, and alchemize it into food and fuel for your work in the world.
5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Begin to Cultivate This Capacity:
1. Hold SPACE for yourself at the beginning and end of class.
Give yourself time at the beginning and ending of your class that prepares you psycho-spiritually for teaching. Take what ‘you’ time you need, so that the time you spend in front of others can truly be about them.
2. Connect with your BODY (physical intelligence).
As movement guides we know the body is gateway to the soul. Ground your energy in the here and now by connecting with your breath, the connection of your feet on the earth, and use physical sensation as anchor.
3. Practice, and listen for, sacred speech.
We are often taught to play small, that it’s safer not to be noticed, to not push others around, but active voicing is truly a compassionate way to speak if you are in the seat of the teacher. Using active voice will let your students relax into their role as student, into the arms of you, as teacher and leader. They want that. You want that. Everybody wins. Switching from the habit of using passive voice to active voice may take some time and dedication, but drawing awareness to the power of your word choice is a step into taking the seat as leader and teacher.
- Speak to the truth of the moment. Let that set you free.
- Passive vs. active voice
- Projection - say it like you mean it
4. Take a course that helps you connect with your soul purpose and essential self.
The best teachers are eternal students. One of the easiest ways we can stay connected in the seat of the teacher is to teach only what is truly ALIVE for us. Not a memorized recital of somebody else’s languaging. Be the student, embody your passions, and teach from that place.
5. Work with your inner critic or any other sub-personality work that may be “steering the ship”.
As guides it is our responsibility to identify and work with aspects of self that may be sabotaging our time in service to others. Read Bill Plotkin’s Wild Mind; a fantastic resource that will help you to speak and act from a place of wholeness.
And finally, surround yourself with people who believe in you and what you're doing. Ask for help when you need it. Ask for mirroring when you feel defeated, and know that by definition, the teacher leads the pack, and therefore is equally exposed to the refiner's fire. Learn to embrace that energy, and you will soar.