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GURU

October 14, 2018

 

“Dispeller of darkness”
~~~
I think when most people hear the word ‘guru’ they think teacher. But my interpretation of it journeys beyond that to something...more.
~
I’d say I have/have had a lot of teachers in my life (and hope to still have many more!), but would say I’ve had few gurus.
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For me a guru isn’t just someone who instructs another how to do something, but is a special relationship; and I think is something that is relatively lacking in the yoga community these days (at least in London/my experience), and perhaps in life in general.
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It’s my understanding that originally yoga was not traditionally taught on the mass scale it is today (ie the class setting). Instead, it was something done individually, one-to-one, between student and teacher. Someone, yes, who would guide you through a physical practice, but also someone who would share their wisdom, help navigate your understanding of texts, concepts, and ideas, and whom you could ask for advice through your challenges of life; they were your guide - your parent of mind and soul. (There is a link between the word guru and the Latin word ‘gravis’, meaning heavy i.e. in this sense, someone who is heavy with spiritual wisdom.)
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These days, however, as a yoga ‘teacher’ it can sometimes feel like I’m just a person people see for one hour a week (maybe), like a fitness instructor or trainer, before rushing off to their next thing - something to tick off their list or tell their friends they do. Too busy in fact to come and say hi after class, or sometimes even thank you. (Not that my ego needs that, btw.)
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I feel like that connection between student and teacher can often be lacking. But that’s what I want to offer as a teacher - not just to lead someone through the physical practice, but to facilitate space for self-discovery, to offer an opportunity to think about concepts, and to be there to talk to about...whatever a student feels like they need to talk about.
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I am not a trained therapist, nor am I claiming to be, and I appreciate the complexities of people, the challenges they face, and how dangerous it can be to be in a position of ‘power’ whereby you have influence over a (potentially vulnerable) person. But that’s not what I’m wanting to offer - I don’t seek to be someone’s therapist.
~
I do feel, however, this is something we intrinsically need, or at least would be of great benefit. But because we don’t have someone we do consider a guru (let alone a therapist), we often rely on a friend/a loved one/a partner to satisfy this role - asking them for advice on what should be done for a particular problem (boy troubles, girl troubles, work troubles, etc.). This can sometimes be tricky (in my experience particularly when seeking this from a partner) as this is a very specific relationship dynamic, and one that both parties need to be aware of and comfortable with, and for the person seeking this fulfilment from their partner/friend to then not develop a sense of dependency on that person, as this can become a weighty burden to bare if unaware that this is the role you’re playing.
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One theorised derivation of the word guru is:
‘gu’ - darkness
‘ru’ - light that dispels it

I like this definition/interpretation, as to me one’s guru then doesn’t have to be a person, it can be a pet, an activity, a book, whatever - something that offers a glimpse of perspective through challenge.
~
What I seek to offer now to anyone as a yogi isn’t the answers, or even necessarily the questions, but the space to help bring some comfort, perspective, and perhaps clarity when needed, whether that be through an asana practice, a handstand, a meditation, a hug, or just an ear for listening.
 

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