“We can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.” ~ Claude Bernard
When we think about learning something new, it’s easy to forget we first started in a place of unknowing. Perhaps there was something that sparked interest, leading to discovery, or perhaps learning came through overcoming challenge. Regardless of the reason for learning something new, there is a deep beauty and wisdom gleaned from recognizing we must first accept there is something we don’t know before we may gain knowledge.
Learning occurs in many different shapes and avenues. There’s the conventional sense of learning related to course study or the pursuit of education. We also learn through association and community, exploring perspectives with others. There are those ‘aha’ moments of learning when we discern something through experimentation or trial and error. We also have indirect learning which occurs through having an experience with curiosity. In more tactile learning, it is through repetition and practice that we master a skill, trade, craft, sport. And then there is self-discovery, perhaps the most intimate form of learning, when we can clearly see ourselves and acknowledge something we hadn’t previously known about our inner strength or emotions, shadows or capabilities. Wherever we are, life presents opportunities for learning – everyday.
What becomes remarkable about learning are the dynamics we experience through the process. Whether specifically recognizing something we want to learn, or when faced with a situation to cope and adapt, there is a humbling of ego when we must say ‘I don’t know.’ This is an important step in the learning process because it creates agency for us to recognize where we are currently and what information we need to move forward. There is often fear associated with learning because it challenges us to dance in a space of the unknown, testing our abilities, making us question what we have previously known, or question our resilience to see it through. Getting caught in the fear state can be crippling and cause us to abandon course. It is precisely in this moment, though, when we may choose to gather courage and continue into the unknown, holding faith that what we must learn will be revealed.
And magically, once learned, the thing which seemed most daunting becomes a new level of comfort, a new place of NOW knowing. Humans are creatures of comfort and in those moments of discomfort is where we may learn to trust ourselves and expand our beingness – we may gain knowledge, new talents, important life skills, epiphanies to change how we see the world, and we may also learn new things which we hope to never again experience. All learning is valuable information for how we proceed in our lives.
Because of this, learning often leads us to take new action. From learning, we experience growth, which then offers us ways to live differently. We may decide to start new programs and diets, forge new friendships, change the way we relate with others, and we may also elect to stop acting in certain ways, abandon known harmful habits, release biased beliefs. All growth is positive, regardless of the outcome, because we have fundamentally expanded our mind and/or heart space and we gain more power for self-awareness and self-advocacy. As humans, we have a great capacity to choose how we are and what we do in each moment, the gift of free-will.
The reality we all face is that each day we must learn something new because each day presents itself independently and uniquely from any day before or after. Our minds are constantly processing information through the receptors of our senses, then translating these into thoughts, ideas, nervous system responses. With each breath, the body learns how to adapt differently to the newness of the present moment. This is unconscious learning. Yet we also have the choice to consciously engage with learning, encouraging our minds, bodies and souls to adapt and change to life as it happens in and around us. How we choose to face change is up to us – we may embrace learning, honoring that we will forever be slightly different today than yesterday, or we may resist learning which fosters stuck patterns and fear. When fear holds us back, we become stagnant and limit our possibilities.
Learning is a life-long process which supports our daily existence and offers the opportunity for a rich and fulfilling life. It requires that we gracefully accept the limitations of what we already know, with a willingness to live in a place of temporary discomfort and unknown so that we may expand and grow on mental and emotional levels. Much like trees, which continue to grow stronger and taller over time, so may we seek growth from our roots and our dreams, perpetually nourishing ourselves as exquisite and dynamic beings.
“From the sadness, learn something; from the happiness, learn something. From the setback, learn something and even from the success learn something. Never stop learning from any situation in life, for that is where the wisdom lies.” ~Gift Gugu Mona