Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Why do we do?

I'm still stuck on expectations. I really like my calculus' teachers declaration that, "I have no expectations. If I have expectations, I cannot teach you." It seems very wise that, as a teacher, you practice non-attachment to results. If the teaching is driven by wanting to see a desired result from your students, the whole enterprise moves away from learning to just getting something. That, to me, isn't good motivation.

But is there good motivation? As students and teachers (and parents and mentors) is that something we want to cultivate in certain situations, or should that be something that comes from within? Should the desire to learn be the individual's alone, or are there external influences that are good and healthy?

Probably, a little of both. I think the learning that is held the deepest comes from within. You may start to do something for external reasons, but the reason it sticks with you--and you with it--is because that something resonates and the activity moves from chore to pleasure (or habit?). But maybe the push or encouragement or rule some one else imposes is what you need to get started.

I think about sending my boys to school; while they're young, they'd just as soon hang out with a roomful of 6-yr-olds than stay home with me, but if it was framed as something they have to do, it might give them pause. But, that doesn't matter, they don't really have a choice, because of their age. Internal or external? Maybe by the time they're teenagers, the acquisition of knowledge and experience will have its own attraction and going to school is just part of the routine. (I don't doubt for a minute that there won't be plenty of groaning and foot-dragging, but that's all part of the teenage performance)

And maybe that's the way it is with yoga, too. Some one suggests it will improve your flexibility or strength, or maybe you have to do something low impact until an injury heals. I hope it isn't just to get rid of bra fat. But, whatever gets them in the room, I can tell when new students get hooked. The first few classes, they are usually a bit tentative--looking at everyone else, overdoing a pose, confusing right and left. But, the ones who stay move out of that place of insecurity pretty quickly. You can see their expressions shift and how quickly they come to stillness during the opening meditation. It's just a matter of days before they come up after class and ask where is the best place to get their own mats. I love that and I don't really think that has a whole lot to do with me as a teacher, but how they absorb the subject and make it their own. Internal or external?

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.
If you build it, they will come. Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. This topic isn't new, but it's what I've been thinking about.

Would you like to think about it, too?


YogaforCynics said...

It's what I've been thinking about, too, particularly in regard to my upcoming teacher training: wanting to try and just dive in and see what happens without all these constant thoughts, fantasies, and fears about what I want/hope/don't want it to be, since I know those will, ultimately, only get in the way of fully inhabiting the experience. Then, on the other hand, as it's something that involves significant time, money, and effort, if I hadn't gotten myself psyched up with positive expectations of various kinds, I'd never have bothered sending in the application. Perhaps expectations and motivations are useful/necessary to get us to the starting gate, but, once there, we just need to run?

Kristin said...

I think your first comment says it best: "I'm still stuck on expectations. I really like my calculus' teachers declaration that, "I have no expectations. If I have expectations, I cannot teach you." It seems very wise that, as a teacher, you practice non-attachment to results."

I feel expectations lead to attachment which ultimately - usually - lead to disappointment.

If we let go of expectations in all aspects of our lives can one even imagine what would happen? I think for one, we would all be a lot more content and grounded.

I think there can be *good* motivation. If I keep myself healthy by eating right, exercising, moderating stress and being positive, then my quality of life will be better. Good motivation, right?

If I'm postive in word, thought and deed, I can be a positive influnce in my workplace. That could lead to a better position. Good motivation, right?

Does it matter if it's internal or external?

Whoo. Lots to think on in this post. I need to cogitate some more. Great topic! Thank you!

YogaRestores said...

In response to Yogaforcynics, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Once he gets to the water trough though, there may be other things that cause him pause. Maybe its the warm sun that day, maybe it's the grassy meadow, maybe he gets to mingle with the other horses for awhile, maybe it's something else.

I think expectations have their use in the short term but then to be in a space of non-attachment the self is able to relax into whatever is right in the moment.

heather said...

agreed with YogaforCynics..