For the Love of Learning

One of my sister’s calls me a professional student.  I’m good with that.  OK, so I was in University for a long time (getting into and then completing vet college).  I did yoga school last year and I’m assisting in the yoga teacher training class now.  Then there’s this fall and winter, where I’ve enrolled in a program on animal acupuncture (an exciting way to approach veterinary medicine but very overwhelming since it’s like learning a new language!).

I can’t help it.  I love to learn.

I hope that being an adult learner is keeping my brain cells active.  If yoga can keep my body healthy as I get older, then learning will keep my mind sharper too.  Yoga shala kept me doing mental gymnastics with philosophy, Sanskrit and alignment principles.  Learning about animal acupuncture means embracing the use of metaphors to explain disease (Huh?  Yeah…it’s a big change in my thinking alright!), trying to pronounce the Mandarin names of the points correctly, hoping that I remember how to work around horses (last time I worked with them was in vet school).  I’m stretching the boundaries of my comfort zone.  It’s stimulating and scary all at the same time.

The topic of learning as an adult came up during yoga shala.  Some of the students mentioned that it’s hard to find the time to study with so much going on in their lives (work, family, travel).  Others mentioned that it’s difficult to start out all over again and be a newbie.  I appreciate how they feel.

It’s not easy, having to deal with the frustrations of learning something new and being out of our comfort zone.  The fear of failure, of not being good enough, of success (yes, we’re scared that we might actually do well!), of never knowing it all…these are things that our monkey minds like to tell us.

Let me tell you, I’ve faced “failure”.  And, in retrospect, I’m actually glad I have.  Because I’ve learned that if I do “fall down”, I just have to get up and keep going.  Sometimes the fall really throws me for a loop and I don’t know how I’ll ever recover.  But if I just stay with the feeling and keep moving forward, I find that I’ve survived to live another day and try again.  And that’s just it.  I keep trying.  I’ve had to make mistakes in order to learn that tough lesson.

I keep trying to improve myself and grow by continuing to learn and do all kinds of different things, in both my professional and personal life.  I found inspiration in a post called “5 Simple Principles for Becoming an Expert“.  I like Corbett’s idea of being a “relative expert” or “expert enough”.  Before yoga school, I’d never taught a physical exercise class much less understood how to be good at moving in my own body.  I’ve only been at this yoga thing for 3.5 years.  There are students at shala that have been practicing way longer than that.  But I’m developing my expertise one hour, one pose, at a time.  Dianne often tells her students that “yoga is cumulative”.  I’m taking her word for it.  And as for the animal acupuncture program, I have to trust that if I keep working at learning the material, through repetition and practice, it’ll all start to make sense.  There is no shortcut.