The utmost form of respect is to give sincerely your presence. –Mollie Marti
July 9, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a video clip that I had recorded last year of my 8th grade students. On the clip, you can hear my voice, talking to my students. When I first began to play the video, it surprised me how weird I sounded. Then I thought, “People always think they sound weird when they listen to a recording of their own voice,” and I continued to watch and listen. And then my sister spoke up, “Who is that talking?”
When I tell you that I am a different person when I am teaching, I mean I am a different person. When I teach, I am wholly without ego, it is a completely selfless act. My mannerisms are different, my tone is different, my posture and my body language are different, I am different. And now I know that even my voice is different, so different that even my sister didn’t recognize it.
What could be the cause of this difference? Why do I change, so much so as to be unrecognizable, even to myself? I went in search of the answers. What I discovered was surprising and, yes, enlightening.
I started with the premise that I love the way teaching makes me ‘feel’. I am calm, my breathing is relaxed and steady, and my hands do not shake (a manifestation of my anxiety). I smile frequently using my entire face, especially my eyes. I can tell my smiles are genuine, because my eyes close into barely seen slits. I have boundless energy and rarely do I sit down throughout my day. And in the center of myself, in the essence that is me, I am peace. I am peace. I am not at peace, nor do I feel peace. Rather, I am peace.
Once I could describe what I felt while teaching, I began to look for the why. Why do I experience such joy while teaching and more importantly, how can I replicate it? The first question was easy enough to figure out. Although, the second one is giving me a bit more trouble.
Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it. –Gautama Buddha
I know why I am different when I teach. I am giving my whole heart and soul to it. I am divinely inspired. I am love, I am peace, I am joy. I have had indescribable, spiritual encounters at times, while teaching. I have experienced an enlightenment that can only be equated to an out-of-body experience. My soul has found where it belongs in the universe. I have but one question to answer, how do I replicate this ‘feeling’ when I am not teaching?
Once I am out of my teacher persona, I am no longer calm, energetic, peaceful and close to God. But I so desperately want to be. I want to translate who I am while teaching into who I am in my everyday life. I am happy, yes, but I know there is more. And I will attain it. I have seen shades of my teacher-self in my everyday life. They are few and far between, but they are there. Here is an example:
A few years back, I was recovering from surgery and my mom was kind enough to take me to my follow-up doctor’s appointment. The waiting room was huge and it was packed with mostly women and children. I tried to calmly tune out the noise. However, there were two little kids, one boy and one girl, causing such a disturbance. These two were jumping on the furniture, running around their caretaker, playing with the magazines, and generally misbehaving. The receptionist had already unsuccessfully asked the caretaker to settle the children down. Having done all she could muster, the receptionist closed the glass partition so that the office staff and the patients with the doctors in the back, could not hear the ruckus in the waiting room.
The caretaker tried to get control of the children, to no avail. Turns out, she was the children’s aunt and her sister, their mother, was with the doctor in the back. She was awfully embarrassed and more or less, collapsed within herself, and waited. Meanwhile, the other patients in the waiting room began to raise their voices just above a whisper, so as to scold not the children, but their caretaker. As the minutes passed and the children became more aggressive and obnoxious, the grumblings became louder. Patients were conversing in angry tones and shaking their heads in disgust at the caretaker and the children by then. Nothing would settle the children down.
I was just about to join in the humiliation circle, when a sort of calm came over me. I knew what I had to do, I became my teacher-self. I grabbed a magazine and walked over to the children with a purpose. Later, as I recalled the scene in my mind’s eye, I was experiencing the event not as myself, but as someone outside of myself, if you can understand that. I introduced myself to the boy and girl, and we took it from there. I began teaching the children a lesson using the magazine I had picked up. The children were entranced as I held sway over their impressionable, little minds. And a hush descended upon the waiting room, everyone began to relax. I remember feeling a sort of electric energy passing between me and the boy and the girl. However, I knew if I concentrated on that energy I would lose its touch and in turn, lose the children’s interest. I was calm, serene, and joyful whereas one minute before, I had been agitated, irritated, and definitely unhappy.
I managed to keep the children engaged and mostly quiet (after all, children do get excited as they learn) until their mother appeared from behind the office door. It was then that I ‘came’ back to myself. It was weird and I know I’m not explaining it right, but it is what I felt. I have examined this experience, and I know I was acting, no existing, from a place that is the real me. So, I know I can do this, be this in my everyday life; it just takes practice.
Well dear Readers, school begins again in less than two weeks and I am pretty sure I will be getting in a lot of practice. I want to continue my journey of enlightenment so that I may be closer to God in all aspects of my life. I want to continue so that I may sow the seeds of joy and peace. And almost most importantly, I want to continue my journey so that I may be closer to my true, ego-less self. Peace, ~v.