I have been incredibly blessed when it comes to mentors. In all aspects of my life I have been thrown in the path of generous and loving teachers. At first I was self-conscious, not able to ask for what I wanted, but a few experiences caused me to realize that to find those who will lovingly, intelligently and confidently instruct one, is a treasure beyond pearls and rubies. Now, when I find someone who can help me on my path, I overcome my shyness and boldly ask for what I want.
I have also been given the opportunity to mentor others and I have tried with all my heart to give them what is needed, prudent and helpful to give. Sometimes this is time, sometimes instruction, sometimes modelling.
My mentors have varied in their approaches and I think, if I contemplate it, all have given me what I desired or needed, in the right way. If I needed gentleness and consistent kindness, at certain times in my life, I would find someone who had carloads of that. If I needed a firm hand and sometimes a sharp tongue to wake me up, then I've found that person. With some of my mentors I've gotten to a place where I've itched under the harness - felt I had grown beyond the mentoring, if not the mentor. When I was younger this was decidedly uncomfortable, but now I see it as a natural evolution and I am able to move into the next phase with more ease and less aggression. Some of those that have mentored me have gone on to be my peers -we've joined forces in one way or another, and that is also true of some of those that I've mentored.
With my spiritual life, I have just made a formal request to become a student of a Tibetan Rinpoche (teacher). It took me many years to come to this decision and I know that all of those years were important ones. This is not something one leaps into - it is a mentorship that doesn't quit in this lifetime, no matter how uncomfortable it gets. There is a Buddhist saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
I am ready to have a teacher with my writing practice. I've had several over the years, especially my dear pal, Gwen. I've had others who have been informal mentors and teachers but now I want someone who will really guide me on this next part of my path as a writer.
And so, dear readers, here is the challenge should you choose to attempt it. I will be doing it this weekend:
Find yourself a good and quiet place to sit. Best not to have any distractions - close the door on your family and take your phone off the hook. Have a piece of paper handy and a pen or pencil. Sit quietly until your mind calms down. When you feel that your thoughts are stilling, ask yourself these questions: What sort of mentor do I need in my life to help with my writing practice? (as always, feel free to put in your discipline of choice) Do I need someone who has the same practice but is ahead on the path or someone who is not necessarily a writer but an excellent coach or teacher? What qualities am I looking for? (be careful to look for the qualities you NEED as opposed to those you want)
Contemplate these questions for five or ten minutes. When you are done write down some of the answers that have come to you.
Now go on sitting with these questions: What might stop me from recognizing my mentor? (some answers might be shyness, arrogance, lack of confidence, fear, age) Where might I meet this mentor? Is this person already in my life?
After five or ten minutes write down some of the answers that have come to you.
And finally, ask yourself these questions: What can I do to overcome the obstacles that stop me from finding or approaching my mentor? What small thing can I do this week to meet my mentor?
And write these down on your paper.
Do let me know if you have a mentor for your writing practice and how you came upon them. Is your relationship formal or informal? Do you mentor anyone?