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Teachers – by T. Thorn Coyle

posted in: advice, musings, Teaching | 0

T. Thorn Coyle posted this over on her Facebook and I enjoyed it so much that, with her permission, I wanted to share it here with you all. Don’t know who Thorn is? Why, she is one of the original members of FatChance (pictured right with Paulette, at the Ancient Echoes Retreat), and while she doesn’t dance much these days, she is a big part of the tribal family tree.

Read other thoughts by Thorn HERE

At the gym this morning, my body, mind, and emotions felt engaged. My breath was working and energy was flowing. My muscles strained and my heart pumped. I felt really good. There were some things that just felt strong in the workout, and other things I could barely do today, but did them anyway, as I was able to sense the ways in which they were helping me to grow more powerful.

Sound familiar? Yes. It is the same with any practice: the stretching, the engagement, the feeling good, and the feeling at the edge of our comfort zone.

My workouts last week were nothing like this. I was doing things by rote, and because I felt I should. My mind and emotions were not very engaged, though I made attempts at being present and aware, and at moving energy, because I have enough other training to do so. The contrast with this morning was huge. Last week, I had to try to harness and move energy, this week, the energy just moved, and I could concentrate on controlling where it went, and on moving my body in a more finely tuned fashion. It felt great.

What made the difference? I got a teacher.

I haven’t done serious weight training in years and have just been going on what I learned in the late 80s, early 90s, during my FatChanceBellydance years. Needless to say, this time around, I did some of what I remembered, and did not push myself very hard, because despite having worked really hard in my life to get into my body and to feel physically engaged, my natural default is that of the intellectual: to be physically lazy. Hard for some of you to believe, I am sure, but it is true. All of my physical presence and awareness is the product of many years’ practice and effort. Being in my body did not come naturally to me (and what does that say about alienation in our culture?). So my current workout felt minimally satisfying. But as physical exercise is one of my commitments to spiritual practice, I decided to get help.

Through a serendipitous turn of events, I was able to work out some barter of spiritual direction for physical coaching with Carey Rockland, a skilled athlete with a lot of training, good presence, and some intuitive skills. And yes, she’s hot too, which always helps a workout. She pushed me some, corrected body placement, and gave me dynamic and interesting things to do with free weights, which are my favorites. I even got to say, “I can tell I’m going to have some resistance to this” which is something I get from my students all the time. We are always looking at the information that arises from resistance.

Today I took the workout she gave me and did it on my own. And loved it.

This was a good reminder to me of why teachers and mentors are so helpful. They see us for who we are and push us in directions we did not even know we could go. They bring their expertise to bear on our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits, and help us find our way. They encourage us to do things we don’t want to do, things we resist, and show us the power that flows from these things over time. They enable us to expand into what is possible.

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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.

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