How to Learn

In my last post I wrote about how schools should teach a class on how to learn.  To me, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s how I’d do it:

First I’d start with philosophy, predominately, Joseph Campell’s “A Hero’s Journey.”  Why?  I’ll get to that in a moment.  First let me explain in the simplest way possible, what A Hero’s Journey entails.

It’s basically the blueprint of every story ever made.  Short or long, same story, same blueprint.

2000px-Heroesjourney

There are challenges we face when we go against the norm.  When we shine just a tad brighter than required in our situation, there’s an unbalance.  There’s also an unbalance when we shine a little dimmer than the rest, and that’s okay too!  The story happens on the onset of unbalance, of change.

Beginning your adventure into learning how to learn with the hero’s journey will welcome challenges into your life big or small.  It will provide a framework on how to approach life’s problems, questions, and greatest mysteries without running from them.

Anything that may arise, anything out of the ordinary – something that you have not learned yet, is treated with respect and care.  Each QUESTion becomes a quest and the “ion” part of it is the molecular imbalance from not knowing the answer.

Oh god that’s dorky.

Okay ok, you get the idea though, right?  The idea is to not get distracted or bored when searching for an answer that’s not easily satisfied.  This method unlocks the blocks in your head, the blocks making you a complete imbecile.  Will you become a drama queen?  Maybe.  But that might become a fun-loving quirky quality that others find adorable.

All you have to do is treat each question or curiosity like a microcosm of a hero’s journey.  And that’s it.  No matter what age you are, you can start chipping away at those blocks in your head.

Basically, it teaches you not to give up.

While you’re learning about the hero’s journey, it’s especially important to accept yourself and the limits you unintentionally placed.  If you don’t accept yourself, that’s your first dimwitted block right there.  It’s nearly impossible to learn anything if you don’t give yourself a chance.  It’s VERY important to acknowledge your limitations.  Acknowledge all your negative thoughts, the low self-esteem, low worth, loneliness, stupidity, whatever they may be, accept all of them.  They are part of the quest.  They are vital to the quest!  Without these embarrassing and heart wrenching character traits and limitation, there would be no meaning to any of it.

Not only would there not be meaning, but it’s impossible to learn anything if you don’t accept and acknowledge your limitations.

Why is this important?  Isn’t it more important to wash away demons and scoff at them?

They’re important because they are part of you and before you embark on anything, you must accept everything there is about you.  The good and bad.  That is, if you ever want to improve.

But why?

It’s part of learning patience.

Never underestimate the power of patience.  Patience is more powerful than love, more powerful than addiction.  Patience can withstand anything if you truly have it.

When you understand what patience is, and not just the intellectual meaning of the word, that’s your window.  If you’ve already experienced this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  With patience, you can literally accomplish anything in a relatively short amount of time.

Allow for mistakes.

I’ve had one experience with patience, just one!  And that one experience taught me its true meaning.  It’s not about “putting up” with someone or something.  Or taking a deep breath and allowing for slip-ups.

Patience, when experienced properly, is about change and evolving.  More like, stepping aside to allow room for something to happen.  And somehow, you know exactly what to do once you let patience take hold (once you step aside).  You learn in your own unique manner.  You step aside, but you are somehow fully engaged.

It’s motion in stillness.  Stillness in the mind, even though it’s active.  But not active in the things that normally occupy your attention.  It’s kung-fu, really.

Then you realize you’re experiencing something extraordinary.  Your inherent genius.

To gain this zen-like quality of patience, it has everything to do with time.  This is where patience and time are intertwined, but unlike it’s intellectual definition of the word, it has absolutely nothing to do with waiting.

The true definition of patience means that you have all the time in the world, so take your time.  Don’t rush.  Time is inconsequential.  It has nothing to do with waiting.  Nothing to do with inactivity.   Patience is stillness.  That’s all that it is.  And it’s essential for learning.

How do you teach someone patience?

My best bet is to do it with mindful meditation.  With meditation, you can see your own thought process and separate yourself from that which does not matter.

Why I’m horrible at learning

The way my brain is set up, I take the shortest route possible.  I’m “destination orientated” and want nothing more than to get the job done as quickly and as comfortably as possible.

I also convey thoughts and feelings with as little verbiage as possible.  I zip to the point.  I don’t like to think about the in-between fluff.

For example, if I were sampling wine, I wouldn’t say words like “it’s opulent taste has a creamy decadence much like that of a velvety waterfall of refined chocolate.”

Instead I would say, “that’s good.”

Unfortunately for me, it’s the in-between fluff where learning happens.  Where the neurons in your brain make the most connections.  Connecting not only your 5 senses, but memory as well.

Saying “that’s good”, is the lazy way out.  Not the Hero’s Journey way.

5 lessons will be devoted to describing things.  A lesson for touch, a lesson for sight, sound, smell, and taste.  The student must use all 5 senses to describe what they are seeing, tasting, touching, etc… And also a memory it reminds them of.

Doing this will cause the student to engage their “full” brain and not just the essential parts.

You don’t need a class to teach this, you can practice it on your own with anything you eat and drink.  Each time you eat and drink, describe it with all your senses.  You can do it in private, no one has to know.  It’ll only take a few moments.  Prepare yourself with a list of adjectives ahead of time.

Doing this will also teach appreciation and gratitude.  And not to scarf down your food without tasting it first.

My mini Hero’s Journey

Happened two days ago when I taken a small adventure to Brooklyn with my friend to see Erykah Badu.  We went to the concert, stayed over-night, and the next day drove around galavanting.

One destination was the Green-Wood cemetery to find famous people buried there, particularly William Poole, AKA Bob the butcher from Gangs of New York.

I was about ready to give up.  It was 100 degree’s and I was thirsty and hungry.  I also felt the repercussions of not having exercised for the past 3 years.

I usually never want to give up.  I keep at it until I’m fully satisfied but I’m realizing that with no exercise and poor diet, I don’t feel like doing shit.  I give up easily, I feel stupid, I never want to exert myself.  The lazier I get, the lazier I get.

My friend reminded me of my old self, the one who has the stamina to never give up.  We drove around and walked around until finally we saw Bob’s final resting place and a few other graves and landmarks.

The alter to Liberty was my favorite.  The miniature statue of Liberty at the cemetery faced the large statue of Liberty many miles away on Statin Island.  They had a clear unobstructed view of one another and they were saluting each other.

After the cemetery, my friend realized she stolen her brothers phone charger and wanted to return it to him.

“Oh shit” I thought.  “At this rate we’ll never get home and we’ll have to sit in traffic, find a parking spot and it’ll take hours.”

Me thinking – “If I were her, I’d mail it back.  Take the easy most comfortable route.”

But not her.  She wanted to give it back ASAP.

And I was right about the traffic, right about the parking, but once we were at the destination, I ended up hanging out with her sister-in-law at her soap making business, then grabbing some tapas at a wonderful bar.  I ate great food and met a fantastic person, two counting the bartender.

All because of fate.  It was a Hero’s Journey and instead of making the choice to opt out of it when it presented itself, my friend chosen the harder, more memorable journey.

I can’t believe how much my weight contributes to my decision making.  I never struggled with weight before, I didn’t grow up with it.  So I can see from an outsiders perspective how it impacts my life.  I can see it especially when I’m around someone who is more like my old self than my new one.  I’ve changed and it has all to do with weight gain.

Anyway, I’ve been writing this post for weeks.  If I think of adding anything else, I’ll do it in another post.

Exercising and getting in shape is definitely considered a Hero’s Journey.

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Filed under journal, philosophy

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