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

Haiku – knowing

Middle ground

Photo by Joshua Earle

~

No need to be right

Open up to new learning

Middle Ground knowing

~

If you are new to this site, welcome!

To find out more about finding your middle ground please click here.

* Empty Your Cup

This is a story told in martial arts circles. When I first heard it I felt like this student!

When we believe we already know a lot, are we truly open to learn new things or see things from a different perspective?

zen cup of tea

“A master was trying to explain something to a senior student, who had already learned much in life.  However, each time the master tried to explain something new to the student, the student held the information up against what he already knew. He was therefore unable to see the lessons in what the master was trying to teach him.
Finally, the master poured a full serving of tea into his own cup, and into the cup of the student. Then he began pouring tea from his cup into the student’s cup, but of course, all the tea from the master’s cup spilled out over the cup onto the surface below.
The student said, “Master, you can’t pour anything into my cup until I empty it to make room for what you are trying to give me.”

The master replied “Yes I know, and I can’t give you any new thoughts or ideas, until you clear out your mind to make room for what I have to teach you…. If you truly seek understanding, then first, empty your cup!”
The student was confused at first and then it dawned on him. He smiled and was ready to receive the lesson.”

This is a lesson in humility for us all 🙏

Learning Something New – Be Like a Toddler

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

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

* A Message for you

message for you

In this journey of mine I have always thought that the main reason I blog is in order to express myself and share what I have learned along the way.

I am inspired to touch your lives so that you can return to your center,  connect to your inner wisdom, and find your Middle Ground. I believe that this is where inspiration, true transformation and peace lies.

The other day I realized that it is more than this.

Often I wake up with an insight for someone that I have met or spoken to or read about. It could be some one from a Yoga of Transformation Workshop, a yoga class, a fellow teacher, a coaching client, a friend, or a fellow blogger …

So when I post, I am usually communicating a message with a recipient in mind.

…. and it could be you.

This is also my way to feel connected to my fellow human beings out there!

I have lived a lot and learned a lot, loved a lot and laughed a lot … and I want to share this in the hope that it brings clarity or lightness in the highs and lows of life.

When I do this I feel connection with you.

And it fills my heart.

Thank you for all the goodness you bring to the world and for being such an inspiration. 🙂

 

 

Keeping It Simple

This quote leapt out at me as I was looking for a photo of Albert Einstein:albert einstein quote

” If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

An other way of putting it is

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

Wow – that makes sense. When we are learning something new, or trying to understand something big – like LIFE itself, there’s a lot of questioning, exploring, thinking, challenging and more thinking. Confusion is natural, especially when the answers to the questions don’t magically appear…… Instead of trying harder to learn more, I’m taking a cue from my high school days…

In my first year of chemistry it felt so alien. It didn’t make any sense. I was totally confused by it. Then I had a good teacher who showed me what was behind the symbols and equations. It began to make sense …. but it didn’t inspire me at all. This wasn’t the path for me.

When I took biology the story started out the same. There was so much to learn that was new. New ways of seeing things and words that made little sense. As a learner there is always questioning and analyzing until we understand more. There’s also some uncertainty around if  we are getting it right…. Mrs Marshall was my teacher. She was encouraging and shared her own love of nature and curiosity about what makes living things live. I was inspired. Biology was a wondrous  world to explore and learn about.

So my experience of understanding life, and perhaps yours too, is a bit like this. Lots of questioning at times. Add some conflicting messages, strange symbols, and a lot of unknowns, and it gets complicated. It isn’t easy to keep it simple until we begin to understand. And even then, its often takes good teachers to help us find our way.

When we can explain it simply, we understand it well enough.

I’ll be exploring being simple (and hopefully not stupid) in more posts!

Thank you Albert Einstein….