How do you learn? Why do you learn?
As many of you know, I grew up dyslexic, which had its disadvantages.
Now, I can see its advantages — I had no choice but to learn in non-rote ways. It took a while; I finally understood that memorizing data for a test was not my strong suit or something that I enjoyed. Once I surrendered to learning my way, I saw I could learn.
We are trained that repeating knowledge is learning. It is a form of learning, but the learning that delivers change is learning that is embodied. To embody a teaching, you need to experience it, practice it, fail at it, start over — make it your own. Sitting at a desk causes us to develop ADHD.
Theoretical knowledge can be debated. Yet when we learn to do something, knowledge is applied and tested. We have all heard the phrase “To really master a subject, teach it to a novice.” I stumbled on that next order of magnitude of learning when I created a new model for our work 17 years ago and started the Sandpoint Men’s Group. I had to pull from all I had been taught, all I had experienced in thousands of hours of working with people, and my urge for something better.
For the first year, I was working on my edge of not knowing. Although I had the above knowledge, creating something new was scary. It repeatedly brought up my history of being a lousy student. I slowly realized I was no longer a student but a developer. That brought on fears about my ability to honor my role of supporting the men in my group.
All the Sandpoint groups had a joint meeting. The men running the meeting had us focus on our individual and collective journeys. For some men, it was less than a year; for many of us, it was over a decade. Men honored the group for how they grew and changed their view of the world and their emotional/thinking processes.
Many realized that being in the group every week brought more joy to them. A few of them commented on how developing the group’s skills had them experience the world differently. They no longer thought as they once were taught.
We realized that more than healing old wounds — by learning to feel and connect, we learned a new way to be in the world. My old friend Ron Kurtz, the founder of psycho-somatic therapy, called his work Hakomi – the Hopi word for “Who are you?” or “How do you stand in relation to these many realms?”.
I am currently attending training on how to link my thinking. The instructor, Nick Milo, has us moving beyond the top-down way we are taught to think in the western world. There are 75 people in the course, and most of the attendees are located outside the US. There are many brilliant people in the course — engineers, writers, business owners, and scientists. Nick’s approach is to challenge us. Responding, as opposed to reciting, is not how they learned. Yet we realize that reciting limits us and takes the fun out of what we are doing.
Let’s deconstruct some of our world of thinking and being. What is the impact of how you were trained to think, process, or see? What price are you paying? For example, when are you behaving the way you were taught?
When you do your own work or support a person in doing their work, how do you view the work? Do you orient first to understand? Do you orient to deepen your experience?
Do you begin a sentence with, “I know…?” or start with, “I feel…?”
We are so accustomed to our thinking and speaking patterns that we are often unaware of what we are doing. Begin to unpack what you do automatically. It may be easier to see what another person is doing than notice what you are doing. Being more aware of others will make you more aware of yourself.
Commit to noticing your default thinking and speaking habits in the next week. Choose one behavior and start changing it. It may be using “feel” rather than “think.”