“When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.”
That may be how it appears to the student, but it sort of misstates the case.
The teacher, you see, was there all along. They weren’t invisible, waiting to pop out into your line of sight at just the right time, rather you were just blind to them until you opened your awareness and were ready to see and engage them.
Sadly for the teacher, at first that usually means you have to act out towards them, explaining how wrong they are and how you know better and how they should just disappear again or you will punch them a good one.
Once you have seen them, though, your eyes have been opened. You have become aware. You can no longer make the lesson the universe is offering you invisible again, you just have to decide when and how you are going to resist it, when and how you are going to engage it.
This process of resistance, of fighting to stay unenlightened and therefore believing you are innocent, is the centre of all healing. People heal in their own time and in their own way and the reason we don’t heal is because we are scared that what growth will demand and reveal will somehow separate us from what we held close in the past.
Humans love the walls that separate them from what they fear, even if those walls are really just illusions that simulate comfort by blocking growth. When shamans walk through those walls of expectation and normativity, we freak people out, asking them to face what they have tried to plaster over.
Once people can no longer write off what they fear as just babble and noise, they have to find a way to handle it, with attempts at erasure, with resistance to change, or maybe even with the work of changing our worldview to embrace our new vision.
For teachers, waking in the world and seeing people who have yet to open their eyes to one of the lessons we ended up engaging, this dance can be challenging. We want to talk about our experience, want to share our work, both to pass it on and to have it affirmed, but when we try and do that with people who don’t yet see the results just bristle and shut us down.
How do you communicate something to someone that they are not yet ready to hear, something that they are resisting? How do you help them understand the way old tapes we can’t let go of block the way to growth and healing? How do you encourage them to stay committed and focused rather than trying to slip back, run away or get crazy?
You do it gently, that’s how. Rather than confronting and challenging people, you speak your own truth, your own experience. If you honestly have something to say there is someone out there who honestly needs to hear it.
We may never understand how our sharing ripples through other lives over the long term, never feel our efforts be acknowledged, but it still is the best we can do. When one person gets from us that their feelings are about them, and not about the person who stimulated them, for example, we have passed on our experience and learning in a valuable way.
If you are seeker, you come to the knowledge that there are things you don’t know that you don’t know. Rather than resisting and fighting words that challenge and aggravate you, writing them off as noise, you learn to keep those irritations around. They reside in a hamper, ready to be processed when you get there, having the time and focus to do the work.
You keep an address book of teachers, knowing that you can to go back to them when you are ready, when your eyes open and you need a teacher to “appear.” By keeping an mind and heart open to questions, ready to examine the twinges and twists, rather than just to fight hard to impose what the way you want the world to be, you are ready for growth and healing.
We are all students and we are all teachers. We each have things to learn and things to share and doing both helps us keep moving forward in powerful ways.
That means we will always be both facing our own resistance to letting go and becoming new and also be facing other people’s resistance to change. And it will always, always, always be easier to tell other people what they need to do than it will be to listen to our own sage advice as a message to ourselves.
As you see the defensiveness in others, though, remember that pushing too hard will only make them put up bigger walls and move them backwards. How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.
Instead, use that resistance as a mirror to seek out where you are holding on to old tapes in a way that keeps your eyes from opening and seeing the teachers, the lessons around you.
There is a teacher ready for you right now, if only you are ready to open to what they have to share.