A few days ago, I received some feedback for the Reiki I workshop I taught last month. “It lacked the WOW factor,” a student told me and explained that in contrast to how she feels after yoga, she felt nothing from Reiki and did not see the benefit of practicing the healing palms aspect of it for herself. I was left stunned. Did she mean that I was not inspiring? And what WOW exactly had she expected to feel?
Before the workshop, I decided to let go of my need for results, goals and expectations. Of course I wish to improve people’s life, to bring them the gift of Reiki, to bring them healing and wellness. I know, however, that healing comes from within, and that I have no control over whether or not people will use the gift I give them. As the old saying goes, I can bring the horse water, but I cannot make it drink. Reiki is not for everyone, and sometimes it is just not the right time.
Still, I could not ignore the student’s feedback. How could I be more inspiring? And, were I more inspiring, would my students be more likely to follow what I teach? And the important question follows: is it my ego that needs students to follow my teachings? Isn’t it right to let go of results?
I once read the following story in one of Jack Kornfield’s books. A man wishes to become a spiritual teacher. He sets himself up as one and begins teaching, but no students come. In that village there was a wise man, and students flocked to him. The man decides that in order to get students, he needs to show them that he is smarter than their teacher. He takes a baby bird and hides it in his pocket and goes to see the wise man. He thinks: I will ask the wise man if the bird in my pocket is dead or alive. If the teacher says it is alive, I will wring its neck and show the students that their teacher is wrong. If he says it is dead, I will release the bird and prove he is wrong again.
The man goes to the wise teacher and asks his question: “Oh wise teacher, is the bird in my pocket dead or alive?” The teacher looks at him and replies: “That, my dear friend, is entirely up to you.”
I learn two lessons from this story. The first: setting myself up as a teacher does not guarantee that students will come. The second lesson: the willingness to learn is entirely up to us. And the conclusion: the only student I am sure to teach is myself, and I am, after all (as we all are) my own best teacher. Teaching might be redundant, because everything we need to know is already within us, but it is also important and beautiful because it reminds us of what we already know. A good teacher does not teach us something new but brings out what is best and wisest inside us.
For my next class, I already have a few ideas on how to increase the WOW factor. I am not going to do any magic tricks, stand on my head, or perform miracles (especially since healing is done by the client, not the practitioner). I do hope, however, to make my class (one workshop at a time) more inspiring, inviting, and attractive by reading, gaining new experiences and knowledge, and listening to feedback, no matter how alarming.