Recently I listened to a podcast interview of Seane Corn. Seane sparks my curiosity almost every time I hear her speak. It's not an idolization or yoga-super-star-fandom-like reaction, it's because what she says and how she says it forces my brain from its resting state. For me, her words are powerful. She speaks with purpose. As she mentions in the interview, it's a practiced skill, not a god given talent that most of us suspect land on talented orators.
Anyway! A story came up in the interview about mentoring. I know we can bring a formality to the word, and I believe there is a time and a place for that. In the yoga world, and perhaps similar to other working worlds, mentoring was brought up as the idea of brain-picking...question asking... a casual tea... It was a bit of a looser fit.
Seane referenced her experience of yoga students who politely ask to sit down, share space and ask all the questions. I replayed her response on the podcast once I heard it. It struck me so.
I will sit down with you. I will tell you everything I know. You can ask me all the questions, but I will only do this if you promise to do the same when someone asks you. If you can't make that promise, then I can't have this conversation with you. (paraphrasing)
I loved her response because:
She was so deliberate and direct
She was clear in her expectation- that this gesture will be reciprocated, somewhere in the universe's future.
Her intention fostered a growth mindset, a responsibility for teaching and a passing of the torch.
And I loved it because it placed an immediate value on her time, knowledge and the physical and emotional act of mentoring.
As someone "new" to yoga, in a practice that considers everyone a student, I want to know all the things. I want to ask all the questions. And when a teacher, ANY teacher takes the time to sit down with me, its my responsibility to honor that time. One of the best ways I can do that, I hope is to one day offer my learning forward too. I subscribe to the doctrine of paying it forward and around and upside down . I believe that we all have a better shot at (pick your poison) growing, healing, learning, succeeding, being, breathing, teaching and helping if we talk to someone whose done it before.
I definitely don't know everything. And I know enough to know plenty of folks know a hell of a lot more than me. So, if you're a perpetual student, don't be afraid to ask questions, do expect to be asked questions back, and try to remember its our responsibility to keep the legacy going forward. Mentoring is a gift, but its not free.