Learning is a creative act. Learning is a journey of self-discovery and self-development. Sometimes we make choices about what to learn and how; sometimes the lessons find us.
As students, our job is to be open and aware.
As you may know, there are different types of learning. It’s important to figure out what type of learning resonates with you, then pursue that method for greater success.
Some people are able play a song on the piano or guitar after hearing someone else play it.
Some people can retain information best after hearing it.
Seeing and Observing:
Someone shows you what to do or how to do something, then you can try it yourself.
If you are observing, however, you will look for deeper detail over a longer period of time.
Hands On or Experiential:
Sometimes, the teacher helps the student do the work;
Sometimes the teacher gives direction while the student does the work.
“In-person” – vs – “On-line”
In many areas, the traditional master – apprentice model is not the only way to learn. You can learn anything you want on Khan Academy or YouTube. My kids love to be on the computer – they watch and listen. I often prefer to be in the room with a teacher or refer to a book – I’m a hands-on learner.
All my life, I have been a student of one thing or another. In addition to all that I learned in school, I have also studied yoga, philosophy and religion, architecture, music, various arts and crafts, and healthy eating to name but a few interests of mine. Yet, I find it’s not enough to merely study these things; one must also practice.
The other night, I went to a presentation about the Yoga Sutras given by a well-known teacher. He spoke quite a lot about the qualities of mind, and the development of one-pointedness. When we set out to learn about a subject that we love, no matter what it is, we are able to focus our mind intently in order to delve deeply into that subject and develop the knowledge and skill necessary to excel. We find we have the capacity to block out all distractions and to turn inward.
This is often called being in the flow. But, really, we are creating a useful habit, a way of being in and relating to the world around us. It’s a matter of a lot of practice and dedication, perseverance and the proper attitude. We cultivate patience and gentleness toward ourselves as we struggle with failures and setbacks along our path. Practice is what brings true understanding.
For me, learning something new is a bit like map building. It’s just like when you move to a new place and you make a mental map of where everything is and how to get around; your comfort in that place is in proportion to how complete your map is. I took piano lessons as a kid. I played for ten years before moving away for college and leaving the piano behind; I didn’t have one for nearly twenty years. A few years ago, my piano came back to me and I sat down to see what I still knew. After running through all the scales, I pulled out a few favorites pieces of music to see how rusty I really was. Very rusty. Yet, the muscle memory in my fingers remembered what to do. The mental map had been folded several times and been through the wash and was a bit tattered, but even after all that time, it was largely in tact. All those hours of practice had held, and this experiment confirmed for me two things: that the body may be slow to learn, but it is also slow to forget, and…
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
We work hard and learn things in which we are interested or by which we are inspired. Our willingness to do the work increases for things that bring us great joy or fun. There are also the things we learn out of necessity, or as part of a curriculum. We study because we have an awareness about what we will gain, in what ways we may expand or fulfill ourselves.
That is all very fine and good. BUT…
What about the things we’ve learned unconsciously…. or from unconscious teachers? For better or worse, we are bombarded with subtle influences all day long. Whether from the media or through our friends and family, our behaviors and and beliefs about ourselves and our roles are molded by others. We learn how to modify ourselves to get along with others, to fulfill expectations or someone else’s agenda. These are some of the lessons that find us; and many are learned out of fear or peer pressure.
Through mindfulness and awareness, we can examine or even overcome this subtle programming. Maybe there are things we need to “un-learn.” With time and practice and with deep love for ourselves, we learn that we can make choices about who we are and how we want to be. We can return to our own true nature.
~ Invitation ~
What makes you want to learn something?
What is the driver? What need does the learning fulfill?
Is there an agenda or an expectation? (whose?)
Are you learning something our of “love” or “fear?”
How do you connect with learning from videos on the computer?
from a book or manual? in-person?
* the title for this post is a quote from Leo Buscaglia
I am a wife and a mom, a yogi, an artist, and a writer… but not always in that order! I tend to think in collage and have trouble starting my day without coffee (black). I am a contemplative and a seeker on this wonderful, odd trip that is this human life. I love to have adventures and detest fences of any kind. Dedicated to my journal, I blog part-time at www.vignettesfrommylife.blogspot.com