1.20.2011

Making Space


I had a nice lunch today with a couple of friends from YTT.  We munched as we talked about our experiences as fledgling teachers and our impressions of the business of yoga thus far.  It was great to relate.  Since the conclusion of teacher training, when we all scattered out into the yoga world, still unsteady on our bare little yoga teacher feet, it's been critical to remind myself to never compare my own path, the choices I make or the opportunities that arise in my teaching career, to the paths of the other graduates.  Each journey is distinct and intricately woven over, under, around and through my own.

It has not been easy to refrain from judging myself for not jumping into teaching full time.  Realistically, I know that very few people just up and quit their day jobs to thrive as yoga teachers right after training.  For most of us who aspire to this, it's a process.  A process, not only of networking, interviewing, auditioning, and volunteering, but also, I think, of earning humility.  The fear and rejection we face as new teachers thickens our skin, which further insulates our truth from the dangers of success, and drives home the lesson that, even as leaders, we are not in control.

Then the ego jumps in:  But So-and-so started teaching full time right away!  Or:  How did So-and-so get so many classes?  Why can't I do that?  The mere fact that it's possible makes my slow transition seem insufficient,  not unlike failure, regardless of the enormous growth I've experienced or what I have provided for my students.  I must not be good enough.  I'll never be able to make enough money to pay my bills.  I must have been crazy to think that I could...  All of this and more, even though I've made relatively little effort since graduation to actually acquire more teaching jobs.  Talk about a masochist.

I sent my resume out for the first time this week, for Pete's sake!  And I've had school!  And my job!  Or are these just excuses for avoiding situations that make me uncomfortable?  Like selling myself to studio owners and potentially, no, DEFINITELY facing rejection?  Well, yes.  But that doesn't make them invalid.  I do need to be able to pay my bills.  And I do need to leave enough time in my schedule to devote to school, but deep down I know that the primary reason I have not pursued my ideal is fear -- fear of rejection and fear of financial instability.

The ego is in the way.  Attachment to compensation will only cause suffering, and this is as true for the teacher who has to turn students away from a full room as it is for the one who watches the clock tick five minutes past the hour and still not a soul in the room.  I am beginning to notice that the more I teach, the less I care how many students will show up.  The more I risk, the less I cling to illusions of security.  I cannot receive if my hands are already full of things I can't let go.

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