...You need a guide. It’s that simple.
We progress in our learning by having the aid of another human who is more developed and aware in that which we are learning.
It all starts with our mother, our family, and the other children we socialize with when we are young. When we go to school, we have classmates and teachers who guide us. When we begin working a job, there are typically people who train you and work alongside you. When we study a musical instrument, we hire a private lessons teacher. When we play a sport, we have an athletics coach. When we begin studying yoga, we have a teacher whom we follow and can seek deeper understanding through. When we want to improve at the gym, we may hire a personal trainer: they watch your form and give you feedback when they see that you are out of alignment.
All of these guides help you know when to “course correct” to get back on track. They are another set of eyes/ears. Sometimes they teach you things or provide you with resources, but most of all and always, they are someone with your best interest in mind supporting you to become the best you possible.
Often we do not learn how to work through difficult emotions, communicate when we’re distressed, or relate to ourselves and others in a healthy attachment pattern. Sometimes, we also have no clue how to really follow through on our vision, manage a budget, or be organized. Some of us are more prone to some of those things than others, and our upbringing/family of origin and schooling methods have a lot to do with how we “turn out” or how breezy or difficult it may be to grow and evolve in those areas.
Point is, though, that when we wish to improve in anything at all, we need help. We need someone to reflect to us what we cannot see about ourselves simply because we are living in our own experience; in other words, we need someone else to see us to help us keep becoming the person we could be. We need someone objective, not like our subjective consciousness.
As a coach, I find that my clients already know what they think they should be doing, or what they do actually need to do, but they struggle with implementing a plan and following through with it. I see their intention and the strengths that fuel them, but also there is sometimes a lack of motivation because their vision may conflict with other values they have. Together, we work through where they end up stuck in their own motivation by focusing on their strengths, so that they can truly get over their biggest obstacle: themselves. The impacts this has on one's health and wellness, professional development, and relationships is profound.
Atul Gawande, a well known surgeon and public health researcher, has even experienced the benefits of hiring a coach to get better at being a surgeon, and to help lower income hospitals in India to have better success rates. He has studied this question with a surgeon’s precision: ”How do we improve in the face of complexity?” He shares what he's found in this TedTalk to be the key: having a good coach to provide a more accurate picture of our reality, to instill positive habits of thinking, and to break our actions down and then help us build them back up again. "It's not how good you are now; it's how good you're going to be that really matters," Gawande says. I found this TedTalk to be quite inspiring. If you have any reactions to this, please comment below!
In a separate post, I will write specifically about finding the right yoga guides for you. There is a plethora of information out there now both online, in books, in studios, from teachers young and old. Getting started can be overwhelming, so I will share some of my thoughts.