Changing States

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The Voice replied: “Remember why thou cam’st:
Find out thy soul, recover thy hid self,
In silence seek God’s meaning in thy depths,
Then mortal nature change to the divine.”


Sri Aurobindo, Savitri; The Book of Yoga; The Parable of the Search for the Soul

Ever Changing
Our teaching ultimately is a direct reflection of our presence, our awareness, our state of mind. I’ve been watching how that changes from moment to moment in these last two weeks, how each day, even each class at different times of the same day comes out as a unique expression of that particular moment. The learning space is an amalgam of all the different energies brought forward weaving together each one of us gathered in a class, the questions we have before us, and the ways we are awake or tired, interested or distracted, relaxed or anxious, engaged or withdrawn.

Daido Roshi writes that in the end teachers have nothing to offer, and yet they are utterly indispensable. One of the skills we develop with experience and insight is the ability to read the moment, to sense the energy and state of the gathered students, and to offer just the right question or action or activity to nudge things forward, to open a door. I’ve often told new teachers how important it is to have a clear plan and vision for how one wants to engage a group or a class, and how important it is to be ready at any moment to completely drop that plan and move into what has opened, move into what we know is right for the moment, what we sense will actually serve learning and growth in the particular situation we find before us.


Some days, my work is asking and listening, some days it is explaining and inventing analogies, some days it is encouraging and reflecting back. What I see after these many years of teaching is that what we do each day is in fact always new, never quite the same. I’m sure this grows at least in part (perhaps entirely) from the observation that I am never the same, that insofar as what I experience in my teaching is a reflection on my own presence, it will be constantly changing, always a part of my own movement. This also leads me to thoughts about working with states and state experiences in our teaching. I will think about something to bring forward related to a few observations and experiences I’ve had in recent years in that area. Others may want to share their own reflections or ideas on the same.

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One Response to Changing States

  1. Nancy Davis says:

    This semester I have been working with doctoral students as they supervise prospective teachers through their internship. I will share your wisdom with them about teaching in the present moment. With all the tensions and requirements these individuals are facing, remembering to teach in the moment is a wise reminder of what it means to be an accomplished teacher.