I came across the quote below from Stephen King, the novelist, and it gave me cause to think long and hard. About what it means to me, someone who does planning, plotting and has a strong perfectionist streak. He says:
I distrust plotting for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. Stephen King On Writing
Basically, King is saying plotting kills creativity.
The planning and organising that I’ve engaged in for years have often been strategies for dealing with insecurity, with feeling ‘not-good-enough’. This seems to be a yoga teacher syndrome, the lack of confidence that one has the requisite amount of knowledge, skills and understanding to teach.
Planning and plotting have been long-held habits in all areas of my life. I could also say that they have been expressed as perfectionism. Little by little, though, I have been learning to trust what I know and what I have embodied.
For most of my teaching years, I have laboured over my lesson plans, then taught them and afterwards refined them. If I have a workshop to teach, I spend much time developing the content and then fretting about whether I will meet the students’ needs.
If I have a talk to give, I will write it out, practice it over and over, and then worry about whether I have reliable enough notes or if my slide presentation will work.
A couple of years ago, I put a lot of work into creating a 6-week asana course. Then I decided to teach it differently. I relaxed. I had my notes and I had handouts for the students. For the most part, though, I fielded questions, promoted discussion, observed, and got them to experience poses and adjustments. The classes were interactive and small enough to let the students hear and learn from each other, as well as from me.
My hand was light on the reins, and this attitude created a wonderful learning atmosphere.
It would have been nice to start out in my teaching career as a completely relaxed yoga teacher, but that doesn’t often happen. Perhaps that old line about it taking years to be an overnight success is valid.
Two weeks ago at a kind of open mike night, I did something I had never done before: I sang a song, solo and unaccompanied, in front of an audience. I thought I needed singing lessons to perfect my singing, but then my singing teacher moved to Melbourne. As a result, I decided to teach myself a song that I love. I thought, what the heck, I just turned 73 and I’ve always wanted to do this, so I better get on with it. My motivation was simple: I wanted to share this song with people I love–my choir, their families and friends.
So, now, If you like, you can hear it, too: May I Suggest by Susan Werner