As part of my Pilates Teacher Training I have to do a frighteningly large number of hours of lesson observation. I’ve been here before during Yoga Teacher Training but unlike back then (can you believe it’s been over 6 years?!) I am relatively confident in my skills as a teacher, my ability to communicate with the different types of learners and the means to put an interesting lesson plan together. So this time I’m not sitting in the corner watching the class intently, wondering how I will ever teach like this and taking ream upon ream of notes. Now I can allow myself to sit back and listen. I can close my eyes and hear the teaching cues, feel them in my own body, sense which cues work for which people, notice who needs more.
It is so much more than listening to a teacher teach. It’s hearing a movement class with your whole body, not just for word and sound frequencies but hearing how your own muscles and sinews want to respond, something which will be heard within the body on an emotional level as well, whether I realise it or not.
It is this sort of listening that will help me to become a better teacher and it makes me wonder what it would be like if I listened to all the conversations I had with as much intensity. I suspect I would connect with people on a much deeper level and consequently with the world around me as well, grounding myself in that oh-so-sought-after present moment.
But how can we do this, in a world so busy and loud, so full of everyone’s opinions flying at us all the time via the power of the interwebz? Well I put together five ways that just might help. And I’d love to hear as many ideas from you, dear readers, as you may have. My whole body awaits listening to them!
1. Do you go to a yoga/Pilates/Thai Chi class? If so, and you feel comfortable talking to your teacher, ask them if it would be OK if you sat out a few of the moves one week and just lay back on your mat and listened to the instructions, watched how your body wanted to respond. I can pretty much guarantee your teacher will be fine with this!
2. Make time to unplug. Turn off your computer, your phone, disconnect from Twitter and Facebook for a period of time. Start with maybe one set hour a week. Build up to a whole day. Start to notice the world outside your window rather than the one on your computer screen. See what happens. Write down what you hear – birdsong, traffic, other people’s muffled conversations. (NB – I need to work on this one VERY hard!!)
3. Listen to some music that you don’t usually listen to, especially from a genre you purport not to like (for me this would be jazz!). As you listen try to find things to like about it. If you can’t find any, at least find some constructiveness in your criticism!
4. Next time you find yourself in a conversation with somebody, be it a work colleague, a client, a friend or stranger really listen to what they say. Don’t be tempted to interrupt (ahem – I know, I know, I am the Queen of Interrupting!), don’t question or contradict. Pay attention and let them finish. Notice how you feel, what comes up, how your body wants to respond.
5. Meditate, try five minutes a day, just giving yourself some time to sit with your feelings, your voice, the niggling doubts and criticisms in your head. It’s hard. My meditation practice is one of the hardest things in my life, but so worth it. Over time you start to hear things that you really need to! You can read more about my practice and experiences here.
And over to you readers!