If the word guru hasn’t scared you off (and believe me it shouldn’t) then that’s the best start to the story. A Sanskrit term describing someone who is a teacher – and also expert, master, guide – a guru is someone you likely already know, have already known and are likely to meet. Personally I have had and have at present many gurus, individuals who have taught me many lessons and guided me through particular life experiences. None have been ‘self-proclaimed’ and most probably haven’t even had an awareness of their status as guru but all the same, to me, they play this special and unique role.
Most strikingly, over the past few years I have come to appreciate this role more than ever through the practice of yoga. I came to yoga as a kind of therapy, using the mat to deal with a variety of problems from big to small, and all the while unaware I was acutely under the guidance of some remarkable teachers.
Teachers who could lift me up, teachers who could calm me down and teachers who could instill me with fire and strength. I’ll admit I relish in the role of pupil – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t consistently the teacher’s pet in primary school – and learning drives me forward each day however when faced with so many teachers my intuition guided me in an unexpected direction.
We often tell ourselves to listen to our body, it knows what it needs, but sometimes we also need to listen to our state of being; our mental health, our nervous system, our self image. I found myself choosing teachers who balanced what some might call spirit essence or prana, chi or life force and in doing so I learnt the greatest lessons: To be slow, calm, kind, mindful, considerate, forgiving, nurturing and loving. But as true gurus, these teachers act exquisitely as guides – gently treading through the grass before you, leaving only the hint of a path that will soon be gone.
Because what you will one day learn, like small glimmers of sunlight, is that you are actually your own teacher. We strive so much to learn from others that sometimes all we need is to be somewhere quiet and reflect inwards. For me, that place is on the mat but it can quite easily be barefoot on the grass or immersed in the ocean. Never stop learning because guru is most certainly not a dirty word.