How to Decide What to Teach

How to Decide What to Teach

I am a planner.

When I had my first opportunity to teach I spent hours thinking about what to do and how to do it well. 

I looked at pages and pages of books and magazines and did hours and hours of practices. 

I designed muti-page spreadsheets with several columns. I included everything I could think to measure, plan, or prepare for in a class.

This worked sometimes. It felt reassuring to have a plan. I would often go into classes feeling confident and focused on what I was there to teach.

Other times I would be so overwhelmed with my ideas, it came out as a random jumble of postures and philosophy.

And then there times that the plan failed. I planned instead shoulder sequences and someone showed up with a torn rotator cuff. Now what?...

During this time I was also going to a lot of trainings and retreats. I got to have a lot of experience in powerful meditation, yoga and healing practices.

One weekend I had a powerful experience at a retreat. We did a simple, yet profound partner meditation. This transformed my relationship with that person. It revealed a tender part of me that I had not seen before. I burst into tears at one point. At another point I felt  connected to something greater than myself.

The next week, I reached a point  teaching a class where I wasn't sure what to do next. Anything I can think of felt off. So I paused.

I felt into the moment. The thing that felt most alive in me was what I just experienced the weekend before. So I decided instead of trying to follow a plan, I would just share my experience.

I felt into how my experience was emotional and intuitive. So I knew that I also needed to lead the practice with emotion and intuition. Less logic, less preparation, and no spreadsheet.

It was 6:30am. There were only three other people. I assumed two of them were partners, but I had no idea that there was much more to the story.

They were partners and married. In an on-again and off-again pattern. This morning they were off and almost didn't come to class. They had been fighting and there seemed to be no way that they could find to connect anymore.

The experience they had in their practice was almost the same as mine. Only of much more significance to them than I could have anticipated. She went so far as to
say it brought them back together.

I share this because I'm talking about planning for a class and I could not have planned that.

I believe I opened up a vulnerable part of myself in my meditation, so I was able to invite the class into that spot too. Like that saying "we can only take them as far as we've been."

These days I plan a whole lot less. I instead keep up my practices. I do them to nourish me first, and the fortunate side effect is I have a well to draw from when I show up to teach. Not because I planned it or figured something special out. Because I invite others to look where I've looked and ask them to see what they see. 

Planning is helpful and gives me a lot to draw from, especially in the beginning. Now I see that planning works best when I am willing to throw it out completely. 

Now I have no idea what I'm going to teach next. It depends on who I am in that moment and who is in front of me. What I can decide now is to come back to my practices. To  seek out experiences that teach my deeper truths, and I will have more to share. 

Now I know that my teachers, my practices and the people who show up to class are deciding what I teach just as much I am.