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Jun 2014

Greetings yoga friends -

Wow, just finished watching a fun you tube video on the keys to mastering learning.

Well, actually, what was most exciting for me was that it was really called 'les cles de la maîtrese', because it was in French, and I've been struggling through improving my comprehension of the language. And by grasping the main points of this foreign video affirmed my progress - in part using his very approach.

Two of his keys really struck home for me - whether learning a language, mastering yoga, improving climbing skills.

* Repetition

* Feedback loop

I realized a while back that a lot of our time in modern culture is spent learning 'about' stuff. Very cerebral, we can think it through, we are up in our minds and can process a narrative about life. But not so much actually get in and deeply experiencing it. That's a lot of what I love about visiting France. While it's of course also a modern culture, they seem to have held on a little more to experiencing life viscerally - whether food, wine, leisure, or loving.

So next time you have the intention of mastering something new, notice whether you are trying to learn 'about' it as if that was sufficient. Do you tend to stop there? I took a workshop on backbends, so now I know how I should be moving in my body? I read a book about meditation - I keep it next to my bed for good luck. 

Mastery is more likely to come by repeating and repeating and repeating - hundreds or even thousands of times. Which doesn't have to mean drudgery - often we can show up in an exploratory spirit, letting go of perfection, turn it into play. Which in some ways is actually his second point - the feedback loop. How do we find out if we are succeeding? For learning French, I have been listening again and again to French radio and books on audio - and matching the sounds up wherever possible to transcripts of the words. The game becomes to grasp the gist of the article, perceiving a new viewpoint, which feels like opening up the most exciting cross word puzzle. 

It reminds me, in climbing with a friend, of playing on a particular movement problem at the gym until finally one of us sticks it. Or one of my long-term yoga students, who told me after class yesterday that is was the first time she had got her hip to the floor in pigeon - ever! How may hundreds or thousands of times had she repeated that pose, and combined it with other bodywork and physical opening?

Tomorrow I fly to Europe to lead a trek on the island of Corsica. I am looking forward to practicing French every day, and coming back to my Portland community with new insights about showing up in the actual experience of living.

Namaste - Eugene