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The Gates of Speech

posted in: Teaching, tips | 2

Over on Asharah’s blog, Flissy made the following very astute observation:

“I like to apply the gates of speech when I teach and give adjustments.

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it beneficial? Is it the right time?

I think many times, if we observe “Is it true?” with real honesty, we find that maybe it is a strong impression or personal opinion and it takes a lot more digging to find the truth of the statement.

For me, the last gate takes the most effort. There are some times I can see in a student’s face that he/she is just to beat-down to be pushed with a lot of adjustments. Likewise, a student may not be physically able to achieve the fullest expression of an adjustment. In these cases, it’s important to praise the effort to help build students to the point where they are able to advance more completely.”

I had never heard of this philosophy, but I really really liked it and wanted to share it. So thanks Flissy!

Related to this is something I call “doing the wrong thing in the right way.” In my experience, a student does not always need correction, is not always ready for correction, is not always mentally or emotionally prepared for the correction at all times. Sometimes, if they are doing some detail of the move wrong, but in a way that indicates they are trying for the right result, a correction can actually set them back. It is difficult to describe how I see this, but it is a combination of knowing the movement inside and out and how the “wrong” look on the surface now is actually leading to the “right” result in the long run, mixed with knowing the student and reading their body language and/or knowing their personality and recognizing their signals. It ain’t exactly a science, and of course if the student continues to struggle in the same manner over time, I make the correction–at the right time for them to receive it.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

2 Responses

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    Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers! I feel like a superstar… I love your blog and your thought-provoking, inspiring posts!

    Anyway, I think the gates of speech is something that comes from the Sufi tradition. I learned it from my yoga mentors.

    Om Shanti!

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    We’ve got the gates of speech in Judaism (kabbalistic), too. That last one I hadn’t heard of, but oh wow, does it make a huge impression on me.

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