The Anti Guru
I describe myself as the anti-guru. My role as a Tai Chi and Qigong instructor is not to elevate myself onto a pedestal, and to ensure that you as a student don’t elevate me either. I’m the average person, living the same complex life, experiencing through the same highs and lows as us all. I don’t have any special skills or magical enlightenment, I am just me.
As an instructor, I prefer to walk beside my students on their Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation journey, sharing my passion and experience of the movement and stillness arts. I enjoy lighting the fire of enthusiasm which helps others become active in their self care. I learn so much from my students, every lesson is an equal exchange.
There are plenty of teachers who prefer to adopt a guru approach, placing themselves in a superior position. With that, there are many students who need that type of teacher to follow, adore and idolise. I personally find this type of student/teacher relationship toxic and counter-productive to the learning process. A class can be over-powered by an instructor who is flexing their ego in their lessons. The lesson for them is a power-trip, feeding off the students. What could be better than having the sole attention of a room full of people for an hour, looking at you in amazement!
I always say to my students that my teaching ability is stronger than my Tai Chi and Qigong performance, and that remains true today. I’m honest about my strengths and weaknesses in my form and I work hard to improve as I am still a student. Even after 14 years of training, I continue to study and practice under the guidance of various teachers.
What makes a good teacher
- person centred instruction
- good communication
- the ability to listen (active and reflective)
- managing expectations
- being approachable
- being kind and fair
- being passionate
- the ability to inspire
- the ability to create a meaningful experience
- encouraging engagement
- helping to overcome barriers and challenges to learning
- creating an inclusive environment
- being respectful
- has resilience and is adaptable
- is calm and considered
- a critical thinker and a creative mind
- sets appropriate boundaries
- is reflective
- safe-guarding adults
And the most important part, all whilst being professional.
None of these points call for a guru. As a teacher I do not need to be in a position of superior power to lead the class successfully. The caveat is that teaching and learning Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation is a different dynamic than traditional academia. It doesn’t mean that the qualities and skills of being a good teacher are disregarded.
When teaching the mind and body connection or spiritual aspects of the practices, students usually experience some level of shift, change, awakening or personal awareness. That shift can cause students to become more open, vulnerable and impressionable. Students can become quite emotional and even reactive. There are teachers out there who exploit students at this vulnerable stage, whether knowingly or unknowingly. From my perspective, that creates an even greater need for safe-guarding adults and being the anti-guru. Each student is putting their trust in me as a teacher, and that needs to be respected.
The temptation for teachers is to start to believe the hype. The ego takes hold and they become a guru with an echo chamber of followers. Humility is lost and replaced with ego and co-dependency. For me personally, I don’t want to create a legion of students who are reliant on me and hang on my every word. The only person who can take responsibility for you, is you.
My goal is to show people a path towards improving health and well-being that perhaps they had not explored before. I teach practical and effective ways to boost the physiological function of the human body, to develop awareness of the physical self and to show the true meaning of the mind and body connection, all through the Classical Chinese movement and stillness practices.
I promote posture, breath and awareness.
I live through kindness, modesty, grace and non-judgement.