August 25, 2015

5 Teachers who have Changed my Life.

Elizath Gilbert

“People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.” ~ Pema Chodron

In the end, this journey of being human is one done alone.

Only we know what is in our hearts and minds and only we can find the right tools for ourselves to transform pain into healing and the hate into love.

But we can get help along the way.

We live in an amazing time where teachings are incredibly accessible. We can go into any bookstore, open our computers, turn to YouTube or attend a free webinar with teachers all over the world and learn powerful, transformative lessons.

I have been lucky to stumble across teachers who are putting their thoughts and experiences out into the world—not for financial gain and success—but in the hopes that they might lessen their own suffering and that their learning on the healing path might help others.

I have read many books over the past 10 years, attended retreats and studied different healing modalities.

These are the five teachers who have changed my life the most.

#1. Jack Kornfield

“Spiritual practice is only what you are doing now. Anything else is a fantasy.” ~ Jack Kornfield

When I read Jack Kornfield’s A Path With Heart I was flooded with an increased understanding of my own journey. I felt understood. I felt seen. But more importantly, I felt seen with compassion. I read the book slowly over many months, as if I was following a map back to living sanely.

A map that showed me how to navigate my ups and downs. A map that explained that everyone suffers and that by working with my own suffering, I was helping everyone. I began to understand that my own journey was about more than myself. It was about bringing compassion to my own journey as a way to bring compassion to the journey of everyone on the planet.

I met Jack once.

I didn’t meet him exactly, but I stood near him. Just him and me in the dining hall of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Us two the only ones left at the retreat center after all the other teachers and students had left. And I didn’t say anything. I just thanked him with my eyes. I think he heard.

#2. Pema Chodron

“So, if you can combine that moving in the direction of nothing to hide from yourself with humor and loving kindness then the whole thing begins to transform your being.” ~ Pema Chodron

What I love about Pema Chodron is that she has “been there and done that.” Her teachings come from a place of experience. She has suffered and she has meditated and her teachings really speak to our sense of inadequacy and our fear of not being enough. And she tells us this is the juicy part—fear and anxiety are the part of ourselves that we can work with, that we can change, that we can heal. And she tells us all of this while maintaining a dazzling sense of humor and grace.

All of her books and audios are fantastic. Pick up any of them and you will be steered in the right direction.

#3. Elizabeth Gilbert

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

I didn’t know my heart was closed until I read Gilbert’s account of her own closed heart in Eat, Pray, Love. But when she described it, I immediately recognized the closed heart symptoms in myself and without hesitation the tears streamed down my face. My heart was closed. I was living in a co-dependent relationship, stuck in a rut, with a closed heart and it didn’t feel good at all.

I am grateful for Elizabeth Gilbert—putting her own heart and words on the line so millions of women can take a look at what their own hearts are doing.

#4. Anodea Judith

“To heal our relationship to our bodies is to heal our relationship with the earth.” ~ Anodea Judith

A few years back I was picking cranberries in the forest behind my house with a friend. I asked her what book had changed her life the most. Without hesitation she said Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith.

So, I bought it.

And I devoured it.

And I learned so much about myself and what areas were priorities for my healing.

And I focused hard and healed those areas.

And I am grateful for the insights Anodea provided to me in her scholarly writing.

It is a big book but it isn’t hard to find yourself in it.

#5. Brené Brown

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

~ Brené Brown

I was doing my training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in Boston when a few of the participants said I had to see a TED talk by a woman named Brené Brown. Now I had heard of this TED talk about vulnerability from friends but I can be  stubborn. If other people like something I immediately decide I won’t even try it.

But I was in a retreat setting and trying new things everyday so I joined my new friends around the laptop and I watched this amazing talk by Brené about the Power of Vulnerability. And I saw it all in my head as a continuum, what she was saying, that basically, the more you open to vulnerability, the more you open to joy. That vulnerability wasn’t something to push away for a higher quality of life to emerge but instead something to bring closer.

This went against everything I believed.

This coming closer to vulnerability will always be a work in progress for me.

If you haven’t seen Brené Brown’s TED talks I highly recommend setting aside an hour and watching a few.

I know Elephant Journal Readers are a smart, connected bunch. Which teachers are rocking your world? Comment below.


Relephant read:

Elizabeth Gilbert tells a Simple Story about the Key to Happiness. {Video}


Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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