Learning Something New – Be Like a Toddler

This re-post is dedicated to the people I have the privilege of teaching and mentoring.

ooOoo

As adults we are so used to being competent and knowledgable…. at least in some areas of our lives!
So when we take on a new challenge or want to learn something new it can be difficult.

I teach new yoga students and yoga teachers, and see how tough it can be for some to get their heads around being a beginner again.

Learning something new as adults makes us feel vulnerable. It’s a time where old fears about our worthiness surface, self doubt seeps in and egos rush to defend ingrained thinking and old beliefs.

beginner's mind

One way of countering this all too human reaction is to apply the Zen wisdom of Beginner’s Mind. This concept refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level.

Here are some steps to practice:

1. Be open and curious. Beginner’s Mind is about using the spirit of enquiry.  There’s a Zen story about this:
A student visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor’s cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.
“The cup is full!” said the visitor. “No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” said the master, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

2.Take one step at a time and let go of the outcome. Focus on what needs to be studied at each step.

toddler running and falling

3. Be like a toddler. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Celebrate falling down as well as getting up.

4. Let go of knowing. Embrace “I don’t know” thinking rather than conditioned “I know or I should know” thinking. We only know things up until now. How can we expect to know something beyond our experience?

5. Shake off shoulds. Shoulds are imposed on us. Instead, be the best you can be in that moment and take responsibility for your actions. Own your own life rather than ‘shoulding’ all over it.

6. Use your experience. Keep an open mind on how to apply your experience to each new circumstance. Get creative with what you know and what you are learning.

7. Experience the moment fully. Slow down and pause. Be fully present to what is going on around you and within you.

When you do this your mind quietens and you make space for the new. You find your Middle Ground.

Namaste

At Every Fork in the Road

photo of person holding umbrella

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The Path to Freedom

“What is the path to freedom here?

The answer is clear the moment

I ask. At every fork in the road,

there is a conditioned response

and one that is unpatterned, bold

and free. The old, known way is

more comfortable, but the other

path holds mystery and wonder.”

~ Danna Faulds, from her collection of writings and poems “Limitless”

 

I love this question. What is the path to freedom here?

So often we will ask “What’s the right way here?” or “What should I be doing now?” This alerts the mind to start to analyze what is “right”  – which is usually based on our old conditioning or brings up feelings of guilt and “shoulds” from the past. So often the answer is fear based, especially the fear of making a mistake.

Can you see that we have already created a cage around our response and limited our choice based on the old known way.

It isn’t about avoiding doing something wrong or pleasing someone else. It isn’t about being a good or a righteous person either. Or being safe and comfortable.

In my experience, the answer isn’t in the analytical mind at all, but is in the passion and inspiration that fills your heart and uplifts your soul.

Its about being aware, bold and free to approach the mystery of the unknown, and trust the inner voice that’s calling you.

One step at a time is all it takes.

This question will take you there.

 

Inspiration – Joy

Inspiration is always worth repeating and sharing. I hope you enjoy this one.


“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”. ~ Marianne Williamson

autumn sunshineWe humans have a built in default of negative thinking. Its part of our survival mechanism that the ego has reenforced ever since we were little. As we grew up we became alert to scarcity and threats.

So for many of us, it feels natural to go around looking for what is wrong and criticizing things, other people …  and of course, ourselves. We may not even be aware of it.

Negativity feels acceptable and normal. Being safe becomes our preferred state. Even when it makes us miserable. After all “better the devil you know … ”

When we are in this state, the idea of positive thinking is likely to be rejected as ridiculous and fake. Remember, this inner critic is our ego wanting to protect that ways things are.  If we were to be more positive and less fearful, it would lose its power over our thinking and behavior.

Yet, neuroscience shows us that we can change our thinking by reenforcing new neural circuits in the brain. With practice, our brains are able to grow and change.
We are not hard wired in our thinking but we can be hard headed.

Here are some ideas to inspire you into shifting your thinking and creating new neural pathways:

  • Instead of looking for what’s wrong. Look for what’s right. For example, write a post it note and keep it with you all day as a reminder. Or catch one of your children or an employee doing something right.
  • Take time to look at something ordinary as something to be grateful for. For example, sitting at the table with your family tonight. Or watching the sun shine through the leaves.
  • Before going to sleep reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for.
  • Keep an achievement journal. Write down everything that you accomplish, including the small stuff. We usually filter out our strengths and accomplishments and focus on our losses and weakness. Balance out your thinking by writing down the good times. You will be surprised.

Recognizing these moments will start to transform your neural pathways into ones that recognize how good things really are.

This is where joy lives.

Choose a Different Future

Free photo 6380766 © Eugene F – Dreamstime.com

Don’t Let It Die An Orphan
by John Mundahl *

Follow others
Until you’re tired of their exhaust,
Then strike out on your own.
Become friends with your playful self again,
That part of you
The world snatched away
When you weren’t looking.
Choose a different future,
Not the one that looms
As some grim sentence,
But the one that nags to you
In quiet moments.
Don’t let it die an orphan.

girl on her journey

It’s never too late to choose a different future… and its so much easier when we lighten up and become friends with ourselves. Listen to what your inner guide is telling you. Be curious. Have fun with it.

 

*Soul to Soul (p. 134). Monkfish Book Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Life is like … Paper

close up photo of book pages

Photo by Ravi Kant on Pexels.com

Life is Like Paper

It is made by human beings

It is blank to begin with

Over time people leave their marks on it

It captures our stories and beliefs, as well as our creativity and expression

It can be strong, yet pliable

It has many uses and can be moulded

It can transform

It can be recycled

It can disintegrate slowly over time or go up in flames in a moment

When its gone, the stories and memories stay with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self Questioning

free image from Dreamstime

“To have the courage to

Question one’s certainties, is

True courage.”

~ The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Sit with this a while and see what comes up for you…

Bringing our awareness to the beliefs that we hold, and usually take for granted, is the first step in our personal growth and spiritual self inquiry. When we look inwards and question our thinking and assumptions, it opens up new perspectives and gives us the opportunity to learn about what has been unknown…. or what may never be discoverable in this life.

This venture into the unknown is a courageous path because the ego-mind will be alert for any conflicting views or threats to its long held position. The ego holds on to those beliefs that have become our certainties about life. It can keep us rigid, stubborn, critical and damning, or simply safe and stuck.

The choice is ours. To embrace the new or hold on to our certainties.

To those on the path of Yoga teacher training, take courage as you embrace what is beyond belief.

Namaste