So far, we’ve covered the external arts that any mind-body teacher should be well-versed in. However, that is only half of the battle! What is the other key aspect of a great mind-body teacher that you should be looking for?
A truly great mind-body practitioner is equally trained in both the external arts and the internal arts. Most of the time, this means that the teacher studied with a renowned master (or masters) for at least 10 to 20 years. Having both kinds of training means your teacher will be able to help you by using a wide array of mind-body tools, and can tackle your particular issues or weaknesses from the best angle.
A great mind-body teacher will know how important it is to work with your energetic system. An expert should know qigong massage because that means they have lots of hands-on experience. It’s traditional for students of energetic massage to have thousands of hours of massage practice, and your teacher shouldn’t be any different.
In addition to knowing the energetic system, a mind-body teacher should lead you in evoking the spirit and harmonizing the three forces; heaven human and earth. This requires an understanding in the important parts of the human spirit. A sense of humor, experience with loss and death, open-mindedness, and being lifelong learner are all signs that your teacher will be able to instruct you in your spiritual development. Finally emphasizing the 5 building blocks of our being: Body, Breath, Mind, Energy, and Spirit.
A qualified teacher will have experience working with different challenging health issues such as: injuries, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, lower back and neck issues, joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, cancer and all its side effects and symptoms from treatments or the cancer itself, and many more conditions and health issues.
Character is also important in a great mind-body teacher. Compassion, being able to listen, some wisdom, intelligence, diagnostic knowledge, and the ability to make each lesson fresh and new even after 10 or 15 years with them. To find all of these qualities is a single person is rare indeed (almost impossible!), but finding several of them is good.
Next week I will start giving examples of the techniques and teachings that you would expect to get in each of these categories so you can tell whether a mind-body teacher is a good fit for you.
If you are struggling to find sources of mind-body knowledge where you live, you can always start by using my books and DVDs. Nothing is as good as a one-to-one lesson from a trained mind-body teacher, but the more you know from sources like my books, the easier it will be to know when you’ve found the right teacher.
Remember, when trying to understand and learn a philosophy like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga through a book, you retain about 40% of the information. Adding a DVD or videos you will be able to learn 50% to 60%. Even with a great teacher, you'll get 70% to 80% of the information. The remaining 20% to 30% is your personal practice and experience.
Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strength your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!