Honor Your Teachers (4:31 audio)
Step Two - Build An Altar to Your Teachers
Our white rabbits are vital to our growth and learning. First and foremost, they showed us down the well into the rabbit hole tunnels. Secondly, they helped us to navigate through the dark and confusing places. Our white rabbits are the mythical creatures that take us to mystical places and show us magical things.
Every single thing you have ever experienced in the presence of a white rabbit, be it a yoga instructor or any other type of teacher, is woven into the fabric of your being and has become an essential part of your essence. It’s important to honor not just your yoga teachers, but ALL your teachers, your mentors, your elders, and anyone who has guided you on your path. They are an essential part of the process. Every inspirational quote, every pose alignment cue, every hands-on adjustment, and every encouraging smile is threaded into the loom of your neurological memory banks. Neurological wiring LOVES TO GROW and expand like a universe, ever-evolving and spiraling outwards, begging to be activated and re-activated and put to use in any circumstance of your life. The more your neurological wiring grows, the bigger your imagination gets. The more you exercise your imagination, the larger your neurological network becomes. The inner circle spirals of ideas and concepts inform and push the outer spirals of wisdom and imagination to reach further.
As you step through the tiny door and venture into practice on your own, you need the wisdom of your white rabbits whispering in your ear. You need those voices to echo inside your head, encouraging you, affirming you, reminding you that they taught you everything you needed to know to navigate this terrain alone.
In my home practice, my own teachers’ voices ping-pong inside the echo-chamber of my head, bubble-popping between my ears, and sometimes even sending electric-shock shivers down my spine. I’m not just talking about my yoga teachers. On my mat, I feel and remember the encouragements from my high school Latin teacher telling me the stories of the confidence of famous orators. I listen to my synchronized swimming coach reminding me to smile. I see my grandfather Edgar showing me the power of precision and my grandmother Florence advising me on the benefits of patience. I see the sparkle of pride in my great-aunt’s eyes at my piano recitals.
Every teacher we ever have leaves an activated tattoo on our soul. There are two types of tattoos. Those that live inside the complex ladder of our DNA, bringing with them ancestral wisdom and insight passed from generation to generation. For example, every experience my grandmothers ever had, and the insights they gleaned from those experiences live inside my DNA, and work to inform my choices and behaviors. The second kind of tattoo comes from those who leave imprints on our cellular memories. Every person who ever offered me a moment that created a sensation or emotion and insight left a mark that triggers whenever that insight might be helpful to me.
In the absence of a white rabbit, we rely on our ancestral wisdom and our unconscious cellular memories to be our Wonderland tour guides. In my home yoga practice, the first thing I do is invoke these wisdoms that live inside my being.
In my practice, I activate and honor my teachers and mentors and elders by maintaining an altar to them. It’s an elaborate shrine. In I have pictures of these people, items they owned, notes they wrote to me, notebooks from the classes I took from them. Heck, I even have the red dress my grandmother wore for many Christmas dinners.
But remember, there was a time when I didn’t have a home and I couldn’t install a shrine for my practice. And there are days now when I practice away from home, away from my hollow. Sometimes I carry just one item with me, and sometimes I just speak a name or quote or phrase at the beginning of my practice. The point is, I take a moment to ignite, turn-on, activate, or ignite the memories and wisdom from them that live inside me.
Who was your most influential teacher whose voice echoes in your head? Share in the comments below.