Your Suffering, Shadow, Wounds: Personal Practice & Study

  • “Students deserve a teacher who too has suffered.”
  • Hala Khouri describes the premise that she and her co-teachers in Off the Mat teach with great skill: by becoming aware of our shadow and continuously investigating and airing our wounds, we are less likely to have them unconsciously seep out or drive our behavior.
  • And we also get the magical gift of seeing how our “wounds are the source of our gifts.”

The Value of a Teacher Who Has Suffered

The truth is that most students need and want more from us than teaching poses, reading poems or talking about the Yamas and Niyamas. They deserve an educator who not only knows about the workings of their bodies but who too has suffered (yes, I said suffered) continual transformation and who can demonstrate that one can survive and thrive. – Bettelynn Mcilvain

If We Don’t Investigate our Wounds, They Will Get in the Way

Our wounds are often the source of our gifts, and if we don’t investigate our wounds, they will get in the way… This is particularly important for those who hold space for others to be vulnerable. It is our responsibility to do our personal work, otherwise, we can cause harm to those who are trusting us with their bodies, minds and hearts. We all have a shadow side; no one is exempt from pain or trauma… If you teach yoga or hold space for others in any way, it is vital that you have a space that someone else is holding for you—a space where you get vulnerable and are seen; a space where you are held accountable and get nurtured in a compassionate way; a space where you can shed the teacher role and receive. This way you can be empathetic not enmeshed, supportive not diminishing, empowered rather than oppressive and compassionate rather than needy. – Hala Khouri

See also: Feeding Your Passion to Teach: When You’re Struggling or Failing