A while back, I got curious: could I stand up from sitting cross legged on the floor without using my hand? NO WAY! I haven’t comfortably sat cross legged on the floor since I was in primary school (first school) let alone getting up from that position with no hands. I had a pretty fixed idea that my hips are stiff and inflexible. What the heck, I’ll give it a try anyway, I thought.
The first few times I tried? No way Jose. My bum wasn’t budging and everything screamed no, when I tried to push myself up. Talk about dead weight. How could I ever do this? Surely it would take weeks or more likely months of gradual stretching or else get me a body swap! It’s was NO, NO, NO. Are you getting what a hard NO, it was?
But something interesting happened. One day, I thought, what if I WAS someone who could get up from sitting cross legged. I started to imagine it despite having tried a half dozen times, in my living room with absolutely no improvement. Funnily enough, I didn’t go to You Tube for hints and tips.
Then, one summer day, I was in a wood, with my husband. We were stretched out under a tree on a blanket, looking at the sun dappled leaves above us. Suddenly, I thought to try again. The ground was sandy and yielding. I stood up and moved to one side and sat down, with my shoes on.
How exactly it happened I can’t explain but one minute I was sitting cross legged, the next, after leaning forward and pushing up I stood easily, without using my hands, all in one movement. Where was all that resistance, difficulty and solid NO? I laughed with delight. And of course had to do it again for good measure.
I got to wondering how teachable I was with this little project and did that make any difference to the outcome? Was there something about state of mind here that allowed this magic to happen? What about in our understanding of the way the mind works and the spiritual nature of life, can we be more teachable?
Here are 5 ways I’ve seen to be more teachable (and they come naturally as our consciousness rises):-
- Be grateful for the nudge to learn
- Be willing to learn
- Be grateful for discomfort
- Imagine yourself as the person who’s got this
- Measure your teachability by what shows up in your experience
While the process of waking up and having insights is beautifully mysterious, I wonder whether we can’t prepare the ground as it were. Let’s take those one at a time:-
1. Be grateful for the nudge to learn
Gratitude is a doorway to raising consciousness. When you get the nudge or longing to go deeper in your understanding you might have all kinds of feelings. Excitement, doubt, impatience, frustration, self-criticism but how often are we grateful for those nudges? We’ve had them all our lives. Those nudges spark learning in every area of our lives. Take a moment to wonder at where those nudges come from. I’ve no idea. As we appreciate the nudge to learn, it beautifully opens up space, for wisdom, insight and learning. It brings us into the present moment. It’s a catalyst for our state of mind to begin to rise. Put another way, it is a turning away from being caught in our heads.
And what about willingness to learn?
2. Be willing to learn
What does it mean to be willing to learn? You have to be a beginner again. A student. To relish that student status. To open to not being good at something. Enjoy it. You get to ask, be curious and open to listening more deeply. What are we listening for or to? Right now, I’m interested in listening to the aliveness and motion of the life energy within and all around us. Even to becoming that energy as it expresses itself, in walking, sitting, playing, working, in everything that shows up in our experience. If we can tap along to that beat, wisdom gets revealed effortlessly. As our consciousness rises our capacity for learning increases as the noise of our personal thinking moves into the background or quiets down altogether. We get less interested in it.
And sure, it can be uncomfortable, not knowing.
3. Be grateful for discomfort
To not know can be very uncomfortable in our culture. Usually that’s because we’ve been taught we should always know things, have strong opinions and sound confident and assertive. This is only one way to be in the world. And it tends to lead to separation and repetition of what has already been created.
If we find discomfort hard to tolerate we can rush to fill that space with some knowing, however spurious. But what if we turn that on its head. Rather than set down neural pathways identifying ‘not knowing’ as a problem, what if we again find gratitude for our discomfort. Not knowing is the most fertile ground where fresh insights and ideas grow. The discomfort is letting you know that you can loosen your grip. Being grateful for that signal turns you towards something fresh and new. Gratitude is a beautiful tonic for the soul. It relaxes our grip and opens us to the present moment.
Once we relax, we can begin to play.
4. Imagine yourself as the person who’s got this
It’s wonderful to consciously use our imagination to play in this realm. Consider what you are longing for. Is it for a peaceful loving heart, to move through life’s ups and downs with more grace and ease. Is it to feel safe and comfortable in your own skin?
Just as I began to imagine getting up from sitting cross legged on the floor without using my hands, what would it be like to imagine ourselves as someone with a peaceful, loving heart, or someone who felt safe and comfortable in our own skin?
In my experience, this bypasses the resistance, the limitations of what we’ve already experienced. It moves us away from our existing, fixed ideas and beliefs. The realm of the imagination is very fertile. It opens us to a world not yet created. It is in fact the first step in creating something new. If you can’t imagine something, how could it ever come into your life?
And how might we measure our teachability? How open, willing and grateful we are? There’s a sure way to see.
5. Measure your teachability by what shows up in your experience
During a wonderful conversation about learning horse riding skills, I heard this, ‘My first teacher, was very good. She didn’t lavish me with praise, she would let the results of her teaching show in my riding, so I got to know when I’d learnt something.’
This is very powerful. If you want to live a more loving life for example, the only place to measure how that’s going is in your own experience. Are you having more loving relationships? Are you spending more time in feelings of contentment? If not, maybe gently reflect on how teachable you are just now? Note: this is not an opportunity to criticise yourself. So stop that. Look to bring loving kindness to it all: the self judgement, the resistance, the low state of mind. Loving kindness, like gratitude is a gateway to something fresh.
Whether it is trying to get up from sitting cross legged on the floor without using your hands, or trying to integrate the glimpses of innate health and wellbeing you’ve seen, here are 5 ways I’ve seen to be more teachable: be more grateful for the nudges to learn, more willing to learn, more grateful for discomfort, imagine yourself as the person who’s got this and look to your own experience to measure how teachable you are.
And the great news? Every moment is a new teachable moment. Every moment has infinite possibility. So even if there is something in your life you’ve longed for but feels elusive, at any moment, you can have an insight that can change everything. We can’t get insights on demand but I think we can prepare the ground.
Or as Sydney Banks, who uncovered the Three Principles, summarised so well, I paraphrase, ‘look to the beautiful feeling, well, you might as well ……. in the meantime!’
As I return to hosting conversations, I see more and more how my job as a facilitator is simply to be in that feeling where wisdom can flourish. That in itself invites others into the feeling where they can hear their own wisdom. In these conversations we are preparing the ground, making ourselves teachable, so wisdom can arise and guide us. What you need to hear, I have no idea. What I need to hear tomorrow, I have no idea. When we tune into that deeper dimension, we can trust that we will hear and see what we need to hear and see. That is the beauty and magic of this work. I’m so looking forward to being in conversation with you again.