Over the last month I have been exploring how we learn and grow. I have started doing a B.A. degree and as someone who never considered herself an academic I am having to shift a lot of perceptions about myself and the world around me. I feel like I am rewiring my brain! Keeping an open questioning attitude, or Beginner’s Mind, is allowing me to let go of my old stories and ideas and is helping me to learn.
“To approach learning from here [Beginner’s Mind] means letting go of attachment to what is already known and cherished, to seem to forget, to allow the old to die. We are naked, raw, a little naive, emptied of what is necessary.” - Linda Hartley in Wisdom of the Body Moving*
We are born into darkness, in the womb, and this is where we begin to grow, in a state of unknowing.
“The growth every child and adult goes through is not so much a linear as a spirallic process. At the beginning of each new phase of development, each new turn of the spiral, we will consciously or unconsciously again pass through the shadows of the first phases of our life.” - Linda Hartley, Wisdom of the Body Moving
To continually evolve we need to keep going through a phase of unknowing darkness, which can be uncomfortable and disorientating. A state of confusion and seeming chaos is a valuable stage of development. I have found it really helpful to savour confusion as a process of learning. Rather than rushing ahead and trying to understand everything, lingering in the not-knowing might actually deepen my understanding in the long-term.
If we think that we know everything we won’t be able to grow. If we stop learning we become stagnant, we stop trying new things and our world becomes smaller, more myopic. Therefore it is important to keep curious and looking at the world afresh, keep questioning and maintaining Beginner’s Mind.
“We must be learning if we are to feel fully alive, and when life, or love, becomes too predictable and it seems like there is little left to learn, we become restless - a protest, perhaps, of the plastic brain when it can no longer perform its essential task.”
― Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself*
I know that many of you are on this learning journey with me and I learn so much from all of you in classes. I would love to hear any reflections on this topic of learning. In a yoga room I don’t always get to hear what you are thinking. And it’s nice to hear when it resonates but it's also very good for me when I get questioned, even challenged, on what I say.
(excerpt from October newsletter)
**the two books I have quoted from are mind-blowing, I highly recommend them if you like geeking out on the body and brain: Wisdom of the Body Moving, an Introduction to Body-Mind Centering by Linda Hartley and The Brain that Changes itself by Norman Doidge.