A Mentor for Many Reasons and Seasons
“People come in and out of your life like bus boys in a restaurant.”
This is a quote a friend often says when referring to how quickly some friends come in, and then just drop out of, your life.
A mentor, however, is different. A mentor maybe there for a specific reason, or perhaps even a “season” of your life- short or long term, but regardless of the duration, unlike a bus boy or random fly by night friend, their positive impact can be felt long after they are gone.
Mentoring consists of a long-term relationship focused on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. Unlike say a coach who observes and advises on specific actions or behavioral changes, a mentor becomes a source of wisdom, teaching, and support.
When I think back on my life and where I am today quite a few Mentors come to mind but I am going to single out two.
One of my first Mentors was Sally Law, a hockey power skating coach.
In the 1980’s Sally was the defacto Power Skating coach for the Cleveland area. If you were a hockey player growing up during that time you knew Sally. She was what you might consider an “old broad” in the way she carried herself on and off the ice.
Hockey is a sport dominated by men—and she held her own with them all. Unlike other coaches she wore figure skates when coaching the hockey players. Players of course would take notice but would never question her. They might be thinking “What is this “figure skating lady” going to teach us? But by the time the thought could be fully formed it would fall right out of their heads as they were skating full speed up and down the ice doing exactly what she said. And huffing and puffing all the way. The coaches treated her with respect as well because she was confident, took charge, didn’t take crap and got results from the players.
I was 22 years old when I met Sally. A figure skater new to coaching hockey players. I learned so much from Sally on and off the ice. From skating drills, class handing techniques and how to get “buy in” from the players even when they would rather go shoot some pucks.
Sally passed away over 20 years ago and I still think of her often and feel her influence in how I interact with coaches and players.
I am now coaching on the ice with many of those players she coached in the 1980’s. They will often fondly bring her name up and how hard she pushed them. They will tell their players the “war stories’ of working with Sally and I will nod in agreement having worked along side her. The fact that these now Coaches seek me out to work with their players shows that her guidance and support were not lost on me. There isn’t a session that at least one player doesn’t audibly groan when they see me glide toward them. A broad smile always creeps across my face. And I can thank Sally for that!
The second Mentor I would like to mention is thankfully still alive. Her given name is Beverly, but I refer to her as Swami Atmarupa.
She started as my yoga teacher, coached me while I was becoming a yoga teacher myself, and through the years has evolved into my Mentor guiding me through the yoga teachings of our lineage and helping me through my own yoga journey as a yoga practitioner and teacher.
I met Sw. Atmarupa over 20 years ago when she was still primarily referred to as Beverly a few months after she opened the Atma Center in Cleveland Hts.
I found out two things during my first visit to her studio.
- She didn’t look like a typical yoga teacher.
- She wasn’t teaching typical yoga.
Both of those things caught my attention. There is an idea, especially in the West that a yoga instructor should look a certain way and be in “yoga shape”—whatever that is? In addition, she was teaching a style of yoga where we doing simple movements, and breathing and meditation practices. I had thought yoga was only about physical flexibility and doing poses
I wasn’t sure what to make of it. My expectations were surely challenged.
But what I quickly found out is that size has nothing to do with yoga and that poses are only a very very small part of the science of yoga. Beverly impressed me with her flexibility, strength and above all, her extensive knowledge of yoga. Not just the postures but the deeper levels that include breathing practices, meditation technique, psychology of yoga, living a yogic lifestyle, etc.
I needed a style of yoga to tame my frenetic nature and I found it at the Atma Center, with Beverly and with Satyananda Yoga.
Entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhaw says “The mentor-mentee relationship is ideally like that of the guru and disciple: motivated by the desire of the guru to impart knowledge to the disciple.”
For those who seriously study and practice yoga, the guru-disciple relationship is a common theme.
While Sw. Atmarupa is not my guru, or anyone’s guru for that matter, over the 20 years she has evolved into a person I can count on to answer my questions, give gentle advice and steer me in the right direction when it comes to my efforts in promoting the benefits of yoga.
As a yoga acharya, which is a distinction given to those who are considered Master teachers of yoga, I am very blessed to have access to her and her wisdom.
As a mother of 3 children age 15-28, I have always welcomed “mentors” aka other adults into my children’s life that can provide guidance and advice. Because all parents know that our children are reluctant to listen to us- especially as teens! My thought has always been the more competent adults around my children, the better.
This philosophy has carried over into my own life as well. I have been quite fortunate to always find one of the smartest women in whatever field I was pursuing, sorry to the men in the room, who in turn have taken me under their wing. No matter if it was on the ice, a yoga mat, developing my business or at CSU where I am a part time lecturer, I have always found a mentor. In all areas, I am more competent and successful because of their wisdom and input.
For my many reasons of having various mentors and through the seasons of our relationships, I am humbled and forever grateful.