In our last Global Coherence Teachers Gathering in Ibiza I invited all the teachers to share a piece of knowledge that had transformed or inspired their practice or their teaching. I called this gathering a Knowledge Sharing Gathering. With this subject I was holding the inner intention to help release any tendency to keep the knowledge that is truly relevant only for ourselves and rather get used to sharing all the gems and treasures of our path, both with students and other teachers.
Unconsciously, some teachers will make their students believe that they have many answers and knowledge and create power or dependency based relationships. One has the power of knowledge (the teacher) and the other one needs that knowledge (the student). I completely understand that this slowly unfolding knowledge model worked in the past when the student lived with the master and devoted his life to the study and practice of yoga. In this traditional context knowledge was delivered layer by layer, as it would go very deep and it was a long term process.
Of course, I don´t believe that we should give students anything that would overwhelm them (like sophisticated energetic techniques or intractable texts). Nevertheless, the truth is that the majority of teachers nowadays don´t have access to that sophisticated traditional knowledge, but have some very good tools that are easy to understand by most people. And most people are ready for them! I hope this is clear: students are as smart as their teachers, even if they know less about yoga! Let´s be mindful if we are teachers with the subtle vanity, arrogance and self centeredness that comes from having a few beautiful souls feeling great after our classes.
In this contemporary world, the era of information, we can be transformed by knowledge. I consider myself an educator, so I want all the people around me to be as well informed as possible, and to have all the relevant knowledge to make them self sustainable in their practices and their lives. I wish every student could have enough knowledge to initiate their own svadhyaya (study/inquiry) and could practice more and feel safe and secure while doing it. The classroom is a very safe space to learn, then we need the unknown space of intimacy to discover and move deeper.
I consider especially important that what we share is relevant to the listener. I don´t think we have to share just to share, just because we are teachers we don´t have to keep filling the air with our voice and words!
Once we have decided that we are open to this idea of delivering our knowledge, we have to make sure that we are not delivering our story so that it can be admired by others. We need to remember when we talk that it is not to listen to ourselves or impress others, it is to be listened by others and have a positive impact in their lives.
These thoughts, intentions and reflections that I brought to the teachers gathering gave me the idea of talking about the Art or Relevance. If we are teachers, educators or communicators we will be talking a lot in our daily life (at the end of a long day I´m not tired of teaching itself, but of listening to myself!), so we want to make sure that we speak with awareness and good content.
Trying to define the Art of Relevance...
- The art of relevance is the ability to notice which information is valuable in each moment, and making sure we don´t keep it for ourselves. Being relevant includes being courageous. It includes releasing fear so that we are ready to share things that could make others need us less and be more independent.
- The art of relevance means that we don´t use others to listen to our stories, but we are ready to serve them allowing their story to be supported or embellished by our contribution. Includes talking to improve the listeners life, not to grant benefits for ourselves (yes, this includes good communication of your talents but controlling your desire to permanently market yourself!).
- The art of relevance includes staying quiet if what we are going to say is empty and decorative, mainly considering how hard it is to find quiet moments in life! Nevertheless, it is more than relevant to say relevant things with beauty and poetry. Relevant can be beautiful too, it´s not a cold and distant way of sharing.
- To be relevant and enlightening we should restrain from sharing any communication that includes complaining, criticizing or minimizing people or events. Don´t download on others your personal frustrations, be medicinal for the people around you and take care of your own cleansing in the appropriate contexts. When we communicate we should deliver the best of ourselves: bright clean clear light.
- We should not confuse being relevant with satisfying others. Sometimes it is relevant to let know someone that we don´t feel good about something, even if that creates a slight discomfort in the moment. It will help clarify the landscape and will link us to each other in a truthful way.
Practicing the art of relevance I´ve collected very beautiful experiences and sensations. I´ve apparently lost a few students to whom I recommended other teachers and then they decided to stay with those teachers. When I say that I lost them it completely confuses the story for you. In my opinion I served especially well those students who could then move deeper into their practices, releasing attachments to my teaching and moving into more meaningful or inspiring practices for them. Does this mean that they don´t love me anymore? (yes, it all comes up to feeling loved or rejected)… Of course not! (Hopefully…) I feel that these students are grateful to me and still come to see me for specific things. But they don´t need me anymore. In my opinion this is an educational success.
A few ideas to master the Art of Relevance…
- First and imperative, we need to create more inner silence! Too many voices inside will want to come outside (there´s not enough space in there!) and will probably reduce our clarity and order. Anything that regulates the nervous system and helps you feel at peace will help your communication to be more relevant.
- Make sure you have good information before you decide to share it. Don´t speculate, or if you do it let everybody know that you are doing it. Make it clear if you are just giving your opinion and if your are not offering validated information.
- Become a better listener. It´s not so easy when we are used to being the one who talks to be a good listener. Practice holding your lips together two out of three times that you want to open your mouth in any conversation. This will help you when you are not in a conversation, there will be a holding on before letting go that helps purify and select what comes out and what stays in.
- Know your true intentions. Get to know yourself and which are your motivations when you communicate. Be honest. Be true. Be you. You don´t have to be perfect, you don´t have to be loved by everyone. If you try to be loved by everyone you will most probably find yourself saying irrelevant things just to impress or grant followers. Being relevant is not equal to being important. Be genuine and set yourself free!
Do we have to be always relevant?
I believe that as educators we should be relevant at least 85 or 90% of the time. People take a lot of time, energy and resources to listen and learn from us. Let´s keep it meaningful and profitable for them.
Does being relevant mean that we only share objective knowledge and experience and never share personal stories? I don´t believe so. Some personal stories are extremely relevant. The right personal experiences shared in the right moment can inspire others as much as our objective, scientific, technical or philosophical knowledge.
Knowledge and experience together will bring us wisdom, and this wisdom will guide us to be relevant and helpful to others. If this is a goal for you in your life I hope these words have helped or inspired you for the best.
Though I perfectly know that you are as smart as I am and maybe you don´t need them!
* If I wrote this article it is because I daily find myself in the process of developing this art and I believe it is a relevant experience to be shared :-)
Illustration Isabelle Cardinal