The Empathic Sensei
“Everything I experience hits me deep, raw and intense. As an empathic I feel the energy of myself and others. As I age, this ability grows deeper and stranger.”
I walked to the entrance of the dojo and paused. My senses fired up, I can feel the electric charge of the class. Students talking, giggling, some practicing their newest Kata, some, standing still. Students are social and others are being anti-social. All this information gets absorbed and I haven’t even entered the class yet.
I’m listening and looking but more importantly I’m feeling. I sense the exuberance, and know instantly what I hoped to teach this evening will need to be adapted. The dynamics of the students waiting for class to begin and all their thoughts and emotions hit me like a fifty-pound medicine ball was thrown into my solar plexus.
No-one can see this about me, they don’t know how I process all of their energy. I feel the tension between the newly separate couple: The hurt and protection one carries and the guilt and remorse of the other. I sense the envious comparison from one student to another, the look of admiration with a hint of jealousy. There is trepidation from the student who has missed a few weeks of class, arrogance from some and insecurity from others.
These energetic vibrations are noticed, no matter what kind of front my students think they are putting up. Not only am I empathic, I’ve been all of these students at one time or another in my training. So have you, you just may not have noticed. I know the ones who crave validation and the ones who’d rather hide in the back of the class.
The students happy to be there and ready to work fill up my cup. But even the ones who don’t want to be there, I know they will feel much better for coming to this class. The shift in perspective is the best way to move their energy. Some of the students have left their problems at the entrance and I may also be tuning into that. Now I must leave my worries and judgments at the door, so I can enter the training space with a clear and composed mind.
My empathic nature has already used up a significant amount of energetic fuel, tuning into the students frequency. So, I take a deep inhale and place my feet together at the edge of the mat and with my hands along side my thighs I bow from my waist and enter the Dojo training space. My body, mind and spirit present and ready to give.
As an empathic teacher this is how I do it. I receive the energy and it gets down loaded into my frontal lobe. Then my senses take over, not my thinking brain, and I give the students what I believe they need.
On this night I’d planned on teaching application to their Kata. Mostly technical information I was excited to share yet the message I receive from the class is a need to get out of their heads and use their bodies. So we spar, and run, and spar and push-up and spar some more. They switch partners and mixing up the energy in the room until they are too tired to think. Now they are out of their heads exhausted and breathing heavy. Now it’s time! Time to teach, and learn. The lesson tonight, although condensed is about what the Kata can teach us about life.
Now, most of them will be perceptive, although I know a few would rather keep sparing. Perhaps they are the ones who need the kata lesson most. I talk about form anyway. The kata like life, when we go into that undertaking and do our very best we are winning.
We start kata with mediation, clear our thoughts, ground through our feet and become present. Once we announce the kata with intension and vigor the battle is ON. There is no going through the motions. We are on a mission, in this case to destroy and defeat, or the kata Saifa! I quickly describe the parallel of an opponent in the kata and the hurdles of life. They are both battles in which winning is a key ingredient.
The Kata represents them achieving a goal, working through a problem, or learning a life lesson. Yes, it is all of these things and more.
Even though they are tired, I see most of them getting it and harnessing their inner power of heart and soul. When they complete the kata, the students are spent yet calm and peaceful. Like the demons of doubt have left their body and mind!
The class pauses, holding the last move of the Kata ready and observing like an Karate statues frozen in time, a master piece. They have come full circle as they close. Hands, clap together, right palm inside left, turning their hands inward to finish what they started.
A collective exhale fills the space, along with the salty smell of sweat, their perspiration a currency of investment for the class. My thoughts are clear and attuned to the new sensation the class is emulating. It’s a clear, calm and present moment. Time to end the class.
Have I done my job as their Sensei? Have I given them what they needed? Have they given me something I needed?
As we line-up I look into each of them and I see it. The fizzy buzzing of an hour earlier has become a lake of tranquil water. I exit the class attempting to leave any residual feelings on the mat, yet I know I will carry some of that energy with me. That is my lesson, learning to replenish my energy. For now I am their empathic teacher. I sensed what they needed and gave the class every ounce of my attention.
I mirror my students. I was like them, I still am. Always a student and with gratitude I share the gifts passed down to me by my Sensei, now my Shihan.
Our time together is complete and I think to myself even if they are still heart broken, guilt ridden, insecure or arrogant, for one hour they were none of those things. We were a cosmic force of energy, a circle of giving and taking, teaching and learning, for both the students and their Empathic Sensei!