What is this moment inviting you to learn?Dec 29, 2021
As the new year approaches, I’ve taken time to acknowledge my gratitude and my grief. Both seemed prominent this year, e.g., in honoring the unexpected passing of a good friend and mentor, Pratap Nambiar. In these nadir moments, the veil between ourselves and the divine (whatever that means to us) is thinnest — and the potential for growth is highest.
I think back to vivid memories of standing in the pre-dawn morning while backpacking in the wilderness when I was young — and the powerful sense there was nothing between me and the rest of the cosmos. These kinds of moments offer us an opportunity to more starkly see what is true and what is important about our lives and Life itself.
I reflected a lot this month on the interface between our inner self and the outer world — and how to deepen the learning that is there for us. To stand with others at their thresholds where the veils are thin for others, we must first do this work for ourselves. The challenge is that it is difficult for any of us to provide the scaffolding and do the work at the same time.
Therefore, we usually seek external resources (taking a course or talking with a friend, for example) to provide the scaffolding for our internal work. This is a viable and valuable option. However, I began to wonder in the course of teaching this year if there was another way to look at learning and growth. What if we saw every experience and encounter as scaffolding?
Rather than seeking scaffolding for what we think we need to learn, what if we inquired into the present moment as scaffolding to see what it is inviting us to learn? Learning is less about what we acquire now to do later and more about what we do now in order to learn.
For example, you are experiencing conflict with someone who is close to you. Typically, you might read some books on the topic, seek out a therapist or coach, compare notes with friends, and/or journal on your own. This is all well and good in terms of improving your understanding of the situation. However, if and when does it actually lead to doing something differently?
What if you saw this person with whom you are in conflict as scaffolding? What if the conflict itself was scaffolding? This opens us up to the possibility of shifting from judgment (whose fault is this?) to curiosity (what am I being asked to notice here?). This opens up the possibility of being able to learn what we are primed to learn whenever/however the scaffolding appears.
You might be reminded of a strength in yourself that would help resolve the conflict, it might point to a structure that helps you approach the conflict in a new way, or it might challenge you to take a new perspective or be more honest with yourself about your role in the conflict.
As with the pre-dawn sky or the experience of loss, learning often comes more from what we are willing to do in this moment than what we think we are learning for later. Next time you are confronted with something you find difficult, ask yourself what scaffolding it is offering you and step into it. That is the ID Way.
Dr David Drake
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