I am at a point in my life where I feel my own mortality. Not a sudden realization of impending death but rather a desire to be of service: teaching, sharing, coaching and writing before the desires, thoughts, ideas and motivations pass by. Kind of like the urge to do grandparenting things with the kids and grandkids while I can still get down on the floor with them. On the new album by Paul McCartney, Egypt Station, he says it well. "Do it now while the message is clear and before it all goes away." To every life there is a season.
Having the privilege of teaching CST for these many years (20+) I have great satisfaction and peace of mind knowing I have spent time teaching and giving back. It has not been easy these last ten years having to start over, creating a whole new curriculum with books, classes and concepts and the attendant efforts in advertising, organizing and promoting. My wife Jill has been a mainstay for all of that. I am very blessed. Matter of fact, the required change to my teaching status has been a tremendous blessing and adventure causing me to re-do, self-assess and recreate myself with the essential support of my wife, family and a few lifelong friends and colleagues. I was mentored and supported. There comes a time in everyone's life when it is time to give back and pay it forward. This is why you so often see in our CSTA wording we are, "working together to move CST forward." Mentoring is a teacher's responsibility, but it also has personal rewards. If I treat four to six patients a day, that's great. In twenty years, if I can teach four- or five-thousand students who then treat four to six patients a day, it is humbling. I find new students seek me out wanting the knowledge and wisdom gained over time and to witness it live. One student in England told me, "I am here at your class because I want to see you at the top of your game!" I worried that whole class that I might fall short of expectations. That experience made me realize that there is value in helping students dedicated to the work to gain wisdom and confidence and give them encouragement to think out of the box.
I have told many students that I began my CST journey in the very end of my 30s. Many students I see are in their 20s. I delight in that and know they will outlive me and carry the work forward in new and dynamic ways to meet the challenges of a new world. We are at the infancy in physiological consciousness, water consciousness, spiritual metaphysics, our non-conscious brains, and in understanding universal consciousness in animals, the planet, and in our very own hands.
As an elder in the work, I feel it is my duty to act as mentor to any and all who would have me. I want to cultivate their curiosity and sense of trust in the body and the body's process. I make all my beginning students put their hands on me. Sometimes it is a challenge for my old calvarium to be sure, but I want each student to know when they get it right, when a spontaneous stillpoint awakens or when a subtle energy or emotion ignites. I want them to recognize that moment. And I want to help them if they need correction. I constantly say there is no such thing as a silly or foolish question. The very worst thing you can do to an eager, trying, interested student is to embarrass or dismiss their curiosity somehow implying they are not good enough.
If you are a skilled and experienced therapist, please remember that you are teachers and mentors. When you come upon new people in the work, whether they are mid-lifers starting anew, parents of those in need, experienced professionals from other disciplines or young, budding therapists just starting out -- they all look up to you. They want what they think you have. Stay humble. Treat them with kindness, patience and respect. Remember, if a student asks you a question, it may not be that they don't understand. It may be that you were not clear. A valuable part of a class is when a student re-phrases something you may have said in the form of a question and three or four heads nod in agreement. "You mean to say....?" "Oh, that's what he meant!"
From the book, "Mentoring, the TAO of Giving and Receiving Wisdom," Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch offer wonderful insights into mentoring:
"The most healthy and enlightening relationship between two people is one of mutual fulfillment ... when interests are aligned and individuals share a common goal and a joint process in the dance."
"Mentors can encourage mentees not to give up just when the oasis barely appears on the horizon. Encouraging others to continue the journey of heart at this point is the work of good mentoring."
The word courage comes from the French "coeur" which means heart. Mentors give their students encouragement and courage to believe in themselves and go on. As important as it is for you to correct the student when they make a mistake, it is particularly wonderful and encouraging for you to also tell them when they get it right. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "If I have the belief I can do it, I will surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it in the beginning."
Maybe we are the ones we have been waiting for.
Happy Day. Comments welcome.
Thanks for reading,