Always A Student
This past weekend, we took a family trip to visit La Cueva del Guacharo in Eastern Venezuela. I visited the cave back in 2000 with my then-boyfriend, now husband. The cave is dark and wet. You are not allowed to take photographs because it blinds the “guacharos.” I don’t know if I was told, if I assumed, or chose to hear what I wanted, but I was under the impression that the guacharo was a bat.
I was telling our children all that I knew about the cave and the bats on our way over there. It turns out that some of that information I so convincingly shared was incorrect. The guacharo is not a bat, it’s a bird (the oilbird in English). The cave doesn’t end in Brazil. The guacharos are not unique to Venezuela. From where did I get all this erroneous information?
This got me wondering. What else do I think I know, but in fact, I don’t?
If I am to learn anything from the events of this weekend, it would be to question everything. It is a reminder that even if I have learned something, it may be wrong or incomplete. Over time, new discoveries are made. Technology advances in leaps and bounds. That which you know now will not necessarily be the same in years to come. Not everything you read, see or hear is true. It may be sprinkled with exaggerations, opinions, experiences, half truths or a lack of understanding.
It’s not about learning something new. When I chose to learn something new, I pay full attention and strive to understand as much as possible.
I’m referring to the information and knowledge I have already acquired--that which I think I know. The truth is that this information is forever changing. I must always pay attention to information that is being offered by others. I should always practice being a student and come with a clean slate as if I am a beginner. But oftentimes, I am quick to disregard information from others because I already “know this.”
Doing so is a disservice to myself; I miss the opportunity to learn. And more importantly, I miss the chance to ask questions and learn from the experiences of others. There is no end to knowledge, there is always more.
In my Ashtanga practice, I consider myself a student, always. Each day on my mat is a new experience, and I am open and willing to learn all that I can. I freely take advice from teachers and friends, ask many questions, try different approaches, and read different books--all with the intention to expand my knowledge and gain a greater understanding of the practice.
If I am able to be so open to learning in yoga, I should do the same in all other aspects of my life. Remember to always be a student, in your yoga practice and in life as well.
"Everything and everyone is your teacher, unless you are a poor student." - Byrant McGill
Lots of love,