Lifelong Learning

I was listening/viewing a lesson of a course I am currently taking: De-Mystifying Mindfulness MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that is headed by Chris Goto Jones and delivered by the University of Leiden. I am thoroughly enjoying the course – and the academic way it is challenging my thoughts and preconceptions on mindfulness, on Buddhism, and related thinking, etc. I love this kind of self-directed online learning – where you can pick up at any time, depending on your needs that week, your schedule and even your concentration level! I might one week watch/read 5 or more lessons and jump ahead of my predicted schedule, and then alternatively another week, I might hardly glance at the course… I am used to this kind of learning, and so feel I may have developed a bit of a discipline or toolkit for myself – wherein I am aware of my own flaws and likelihood for distraction, and i also make sure to check in on myself early on at the start or even at the time of contemplating taking a course: Why am I doing it? What am I wanting to get out of it/do with it after (i.e.: further study/research/training?), and do I really have the time/can I ‘find’ the time?

I can always ‘find’ the time, by the way! It is more about whether I can prioritize this for my time!

I am not just taking the one course at the moment: I am also taking a course on Community Herbalism and studying to re-take a reflexology written and practical exam, as well as practicing to move up a level in Reiki! Am I stretching myself a little thin? Possibly – but I do not feel overburdened as I might have in the past: I simply WANT to learn these things. And so I make space for them. A bit like having a few really good books on the go/side table, or anticipating watching 2 or 3 favourite TV shows each week. When I have enthusiasm and genuine interest in the topic, it is not a chore, but an opportunity to learn and soak up more knowledge and expand my thoughts and my mind and my life!

I am laughing now, imagining telling this to my younger self – I am sure I wouldn’t have gotten much buy-in! ๐Ÿ™‚

I feel I will never stop learning. I will ALWAYS seek knowledge – I wonder – can you/I/we even know everything? Is there even such a thing as ‘everything’ or is the universe ever-growing, ever-changing and evolving and therefore to ‘know all’ is not attainable anyway? Such esoteric thoughts for an early Autumn/Fall Monday morning!

And why do I feel this need to keep learning and seeking knowledge, I ask myself? It is not to be all-powerful and lord it over others with my intellect, it is not to have something interesting or profound to speak about or to wow people at parties…. Is it about seeking ‘truth’? Not sure… it feels more than that… ‘the meaning of life’ sounds too grandiose and a little played out… But meaning – the meaning to our existence could be a part of it… I sometimes feel like I am standing in the centre of a huge vast library and just in awe at all the teachings and stories surrounding me, that I might never even know – a little ‘Beauty and the Beast-esque’ imagery comes to mind … but that is getting closer to my feelings on why I need to keep learning.

And a need it is.

i have been involved in learning – in the creation of it, the study of it, the resarch and the delivery of it, for most of the past 20 or so years now…. And I still could not say with certainty why people are driven to learn – what makes good learning, or good learners…, I know how to ‘help’ and aid and facilitate that process, sure; but I do not know intrinsically why people learn and why they want to learn. I can help them to learn, I can encourage them, I can make learning easier, make it fun, more engaging, but I cannot know why they want to learn.

And learning is not only held in a classroom, right? It does not necessarily require a physical ‘teacher’. Learning can occur through pure and simple through observation. Or mimicry. Or repetition. Our body can learn, when our mind appears to be disengaged, and vice versa.

Learning can happen even when we do not want it to. Learning can occur that is the very opposite of what we were expecting.

So, I am proud to announce myself a Lifelong Learner. I suspect most of us are, to some extent – willingly or not. Are we always learning the truth? What is right? Are we learning falsehoods and taking wrong turns because of this? Will we find out eventually, or keep blindly following a ‘wrong path’? We don’t know. But we can keep looking, listening, hearing, researching, attempting to understand… and giving time to listen to other points of view. Maybe there is no right and wrong, but more differing viewpoints, subjective, dependent on where a person stands or came from, or experienced so far….

Hmmm lots of things to muse here in itself… back to my mindfulness course then – and then on with daily life… making school lunches, getting ready for the working day, etc… Wonder if the mindfulness teachings will spill into my day? I’d like to think so. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take it easy – be kind. x

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