Welcome to this glorious Friday, October 4, 2019. This is a rare and precious day that will never come again!
This last weekend, I had the great fortune of spending three days with my teacher, John Bruna. As usual, I was impressed and inspired by his attentiveness, generosity, wisdom, outwardly visible deep sense of peace and ease and his playful demeanor. He has what I want. Through all my adventures and experiences, I’ve learned that if I want what someone has, do what they do. I’m learning to trust the process and follow direction.
Roughly six years ago by fate or happenstance (I don’t know how this stuff works?), I met John through a mutual friend and witnessed the birth of the Mindful Life Program (MLP). I took a few of the early versions of the Mindfulness Foundations Course (that I now get to facilitate), and though initially my ability to fully embody the wisdom was lacking, my life was beneficially transformed in so many ways! So much so that when an opening in the Mindful Life Program’s Teacher Training course materialized, I jumped at the opportunity. At the time, however, I honestly wasn’t sure I had the self-confidence nor skill to teach it. Imagine that. I somehow though I should be able to do something that I hadn’t yet been trained to do!
It was during this year-long teacher training course that I got to know two other remarkable teachers, MLP Co-Founder, Mark Moloney, and Executive Director, Laura Bartels. Although different, their presence, wisdom and peace of mind were no less inspiring than those of John. I wanted what they had!
Having done this work meow for a few years, I can confidently say that I see in me what I appreciate in them. In mindfulness we love to talk about impermanence, but I’m going to go ahead and say that I am and will be forever grateful for the MLP’s practical, accessible and universal tools and life skills! This is my sincere and long over-due attempt to express my gratitude for a program that has indeed nurtured within me a rich and meaningful life!
Reflecting on my gratitude for John, Laura, Mark and the MLP, I couldn’t help but to acknowledge how so many teachers in my life have influenced my growth and understanding.
Of course there are the recognizable names like: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who teaches me about forgiveness; Brene’ Brown, who teaches me about the importance vulnerability; Byron Katie who (brutally-ouch) teaches me how to accept and love – everything that is; the Buddhist spiritual giants like; Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron and H.H. the Dalai Lama, who offer me many ways to think about peace, growth, compassion, loving-kindness, meditation and too many other things mention; religious figures, such as, Jesus Christ, who teaches me about love and faith; Eckhart Tolle, who is teaching me about the Now; and most recently, Richard Rohr who is teaching me more about how to let go! But these are just a few.
Throughout the entirety of my life, there have been many remarkable academic teachers and advisors who taught me so many skills for living that I often take for granted. There are also those who helped me to learn how to learn – in many ways, I thought I already knew everything.
But these teachers are so obvious, they’re all “teachers”.
What I learned through the MLP, and from a few others, is that I can learn from anyone – if I’m open to the experience.
If I can humble myself enough with the realization that I know only a little (if anything at all), I can gain wisdom and a broader perspective from those who challenge my worldview. But only if I’m willing to let go of what I think I know and truly listen. How can I learn and grow if I’m certain about what I believe to know? There are over seven billion of us on this planet and each of us have different experiences, beliefs, perspectives and views. What do they know that I don’t? What can I learn?
Without following the direction of my formal teachers, I never would have considered my kids as teachers. They’ve taught me how to become more responsible. I wish I could have done better all those years ago. I never would have considered my ex-wife as a most influential teacher who after ten years continues to instruct me on how to be in a healthy and meaningful relationship. I just have to look at all my past unskillful behaviors to learn what not to do! Without direction, I would not have considered rude people in a grocery store line as teachers of tolerance and patience; I would not have ever considered reckless drivers as teachers of safety. And without skillful and compassionate guidance, I certainly would not have considered a childhood abuser as a teacher of forgiveness.
It’s been my recent experience that if I reframe how I reflect on my life, everything and everyone can be teacher. In this way, regardless of how pleasurable or painful the experience, it is all valuable.
If we are all teachers, what is it that you want to teach? Are you an example of that lesson?
I’m learning from you and there isn’t anything you can do about it! See what I did there? 😉