Landscapes for Learning
Developing a Landscapes for Learning Mindset
What if you chose to believe that everything that happens to you happens for you instead? How would such a shift in perspective to a “landscapes for learning” mindset change your life? I invite you to try it out and write about your experiences.
How would the world look, your reality, if you chose to view every experience you have as an opportunity for learning and vitality rather than reacting (positively or negatively) out of habit?
How might the landscapes for learning (every experience is for learning) mindset make you more wise, insightful, open to experience, and therefore more well?
Expectations & Neutral Observation
What if you dropped your preferences (about the weather, other people’s appearance or behavior, etc…) and tried to look at reality exactly how it is, rather than how you’d prefer it to be?
How would your life be different if you let go of preferences and expectations?
Can you practice remaining neutral (without a positive or negative charge, (Singh, as cited in Roll, April, 2019)? How does it feel to be in that space of neutrality?
In a highly “charged” environment, whether positive or negative, challenge yourself to stay neutral, just noticing as an observer of “what is.” Just practice that for no other reason than to experience neutrality. (You may notice that you will breathe more easily from your parasympathetic nervous system rather than your heart rate increasing and sympathetic nervous system kicking in as a stress response.)
A highly “charged” environment might be a dispute between others you could observe; or it may be a “dispute” among the various “charges” happening within your inner landscape. Can you observe, remain neutral, and be curious to learn?
You can try to practice such neutrality while in your yoga postures during a yoga class, especially within a challenging posture. Try to notice your attitude toward the pose, your emotional state, your breathing before, during, and after the posture. Can you maintain neutrality toward this pose? How about any or all of the postures? Can you “just be” with the poses, rather than so focused on “doing?”
Amor Fati & Opening to Possibilities
What if, like the Stoic philosophers encouraged, you loved your fate, accepting everything that came your way, everything that happened to you in your life, as meant for you?
What if the discomfort or anxiety or elation is meant to show you something about yourself or your life?
Rather than building up a comfort zone, a wall around yourself, closing yourself in, and feeling afraid or the victim of an impersonal universe, what if you could see, instead, that the landscapes of your life have much to teach you and so many opportunities for learning more about yourself and the world?
How would your life be different if you let go of preferences and expectations?
How would life be different if you saw what you call “mistakes” as opportunities for other possibilities to unfold for you? (when one door closes, another opens?)
Rather than immediately catastrophizing about an event or experience, could you try to remain neutral and curious about how this event or experience is happening for you to point you in an unexpected, new direction?
Accepting one’s fate means to surrender—to welcome every experience without resistance or pushing any of it away; it means taking personal responsibility for learning and growing through introspection and reflection; it means asking:
What role did I play?
What can I learn?
How can I receive rather than resist next time?
How shall I respond?
How can I suffer better and be more graceful, tolerant?
How did I contribute to the suffering in the world, my own or others?
What can I learn about who I am and what I am like?
**To love one’s fate means looking within for answers rather than reactively blaming others— including some impersonal notion called fate.
List as many painfully memorable experiences as you can from which you have learned something important about yourself.
Write about a situation where you failed and/or struggled, like a job you disliked or found too easy or too difficult. Was there still something you might have learned from the difficult or unpleasant experience?
What can you learn from things (like a job or chore) that are “beneath you” or when you are forced to “take one for team?”
What can you learn from frustration, disappointment, or disillusion? Write about experiences where you felt frustrated, disappointed, or disillusioned. What can you learn from reflecting on these experiences?
As Learning applies to Relationships, ask yourself:
What can you learn about yourself from a failed romantic relationship or friendship?
What did you bring to bear on that relationship that you can learn from?
How did you respond and or react to the other person?
How did you face the problems in the relationship or not?
Are you aware of your strengths and limitations and what each contributed to the failure and/or successful parts of that relationship?
Perhaps you can identify new strengths and weaknesses as a result of this self-assessment.
Could/can you see the other person clearly and accurately assess their contributions because you are clear about yourself and your own contributions? Perhaps you will see how much you know and how much you do not know, and thus have to learn to cope effectively with this situation.
If you are not a learner, (or closed, inflexible), perhaps you just pout, blame, or remain confused about why a relationship failed or was unhealthy.
Maybe you just get resentful and feel victimized by the other person?
Maybe you remain unaware of your own flaws and your contribution to the relationship?
Maybe you cling onto unhealthy beliefs about people and relationships because of fear–– fear of looking inside and taking personal responsibility for who you are?
Maybe you miss out on all the opportunities laid out in front of you from which you can learn?
As learning applies to Yoga Practice, ask yourself:
Think about anything that happens in your yoga practice as an opportunity to learn. For instance, what can you learn from not scratching an itch? Is that itch your teacher? Is the heat your teacher? The mirror? The annoying person next to you? Some persisting thought?
What can you learn about your attitude toward reality or what is happening in the present moment, as you practice?
What can you learn about yourself when your mind is racing throughout class?
What can you learn from a physical injury or limitation you discover while practicing? How are you choosing to think about it?
What can you learn about yourself from experiencing physical or emotional pain or discomfort as you practice?
Reflect on how you could possibly see some problems or challenges in your yoga practice right now as opportunities for personal growth and self-realization.
Next, reflect on how you could possibly see some problems or challenges in your life right now as opportunities for personal growth and self-realization.
As learning applies to school, ask yourself:
What can I learn from the poor grade on that essay, test, quiz, assignment?
How can I grow and learn from this experience?
Are you blaming the teacher or fellow student for your failure?
Are you brooding or complaining about your hatred of school?
Are you disappointed because you are comparing yourself with others?
Are you upset because you are afraid?
How is fear related to your mood and feelings of failure or of not being good enough?
As learning applies to injury, illness, and pain, ask yourself:
What can I learn from the injury, illness, or painful experience?
Can I do something different, change my perspective, or adjust my attitude and mindset as a result of sustaining this injury, illness, or painful experiences?
When you know yourself well, you can focus on intentionally responding to what life throws your way, whether it is how other people behave toward you or how to manage and respond to what’s happening within you. You can respond to the external world from a place of peace within, from a place of solid knowledge of who you are, and with the attitude of the curious learner who is interested in learning— about oneself and about others and how they are struggling to be themselves too. You are your best teacher. Be a compassionate guide who is responsive to your very own inner suffering and then you can treat others the way you treat yourself— with honesty, love, and compassion–– as a student on the landscapes for learning.