Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Two Most Important Words

With Molly Duncan at Hudson River Yoga

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 20 years: as a cook, as a chef, as a sales-rep, and as an educator. Something we cooks learn very early on, which shapes us as professionals and as humans are the two most important words in the English language: “Yes, Chef!”

There are millions of methods to achieve the same culinary end.  The only correct way to do something is the way that Chef wants it done.  Not because Chef knows better (although they do), not because Chef’s ego needs to be stroked, but because, in a service industry, we need to remove our ego from what we do in order to serve our guests.  My opinions and ideas do not really matter, my duty as a cook is to follow the formula/example given so that the guest receives exactly what they ordered, every time.  And there may be a very good reason for doing it that way, but that does not mean that I need to know the big picture, I only need to do it.  NOW. CORRECTLY. WITH FINESSE. REPEAT.

We have a similar opportunity to quiet our ego when we approach our yoga practice.  Sri Dharma Mittra says “Copy the Teacher.”  Not because the teacher knows better (although they should), not because the teacher’s ego needs to be stroked, but because, as students, we need to respect the teacher by following their direction.  The teacher may not explain why they do what they do, nor should they have to.  It is up to the student to listen and observe, then practice and realize.

Through listening and following direction (especially when it is contrary to what you want to do/feel should be done) creates an opportunity for our growth.  For that one second we are allowing ourselves to experience that we are not in control.  And that is ok. For one second we stop thinking about ourselves and become receptive (another of Sri Dharma’s common phrases). 

And this teaching is immediately applicable off the mat.  How many times during your average day do you have to do something you don’t agree with, follow process you feel is silly, smile wink and nod when you would rather yell, scream, and shake your fist?  20 times before 9AM? 

By simply learning to listen, paying attention, and following directions we move forward.  Headstand provides this opportunity.  The DMV provides this opportunity.  Your place of work provides this opportunity. 

The easy mantra to remind you of these opportunities is “Yes, Chef!”

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