Mastery is Just the Beginning

“Ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,”

This is the 10,000 Hour Rule in a nutshell, as explained by Daniel Levitin. I started reading about this “rule” because I’ve logged my 10,284th hour of teaching since I started in 2005. I’ve taught this much, and I’ve undoubtedly practiced even more.

I researched the rule because I felt at odds with the notion of mastering anything. I don’t feel like I’ve cracked yoga teaching, or the yoga practice for that matter.

My hunch was correct: It turns out that the rule applies mainly to domains like games, sports, and musical instruments. “In tennis, chess, and classical music, the rules never change, so you can study up to become the best.

The things we discover about our practice, our bodies, our minds, and our teachings change too quickly to master them. The frameworks around it are always mutating too: why and how we’re self-exploring do, and should, evolve. The concept of becoming a master gets tossed in the trash.

By the time we are able to master anything, it’s dead. If I stuck with a static yoga course in 2003, I would have just mastered my 25-year-old body this year. That body is nowhere to be found.

Enter “Beginner’s Mind” and “no-mind”. As a teacher, I approach every class assuming I have no idea what’s going on. To be clear, I always aim to teach something, and it’s often very specific. But cultivating Beginner’s Mind allows me to enter class ready to adjust how I’m teaching it.

It’s this malleability that keeps teaching alive and well. Because nothing is static in our lives, our yoga teaching and practice shouldn’t be. 10,000 hours may be a mark of experience, but the most important thing I’ve learned so far is this: I can open myself to possibilities and to learning in every hour, every moment by pretending to know nothing.

(Photo by Richard, Supine Buddha at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia)