Monthly archives May 2017

The Art of Learning


Art of Learning
Get a solid foundation fueled by understanding the principles of your discipline, then you expand and refine your repertoire guided by individual predispositions. However, abstractly, keep in touch with what you feel to be the essential core of the art. What results in the network of deeply internalized, interconnected knowledge.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the routines of our lives and lose creativity in the learning process. This is the unfortunate correlation for some between consistency and monotony. We lose presence. Then an injury or some other kind of setback throws a wrench into the gears. We are forced to get imaginative. We should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down.
Deep mastery of performance psychology involves the internal creation of inspiring conditions.

A basketball player should play lefty for a few months, to even out his game. Once we learn how to use adversity to our advantage, we can notice external events that trigger the helpful growth of performance opportunities, and then internalize the effects of those events without their happening. In this way, adversity becomes a tremendous source of creative inspiration.

Intuition is a hand of God. Intuition is the most valuable compass in this world. It is a bridge between the unconscious and the conscious mind, and it is hugely important to keep in touch with what makes it tick.
If we blithely consider the unconscious to be a piece of machinery that operates mystically in a realm that we have no connection to, then we lose the precious opportunity to have open communication with a wellspring of our creativity.

If you relax your eyes and allow peripheral vision to take over, your visual awareness will take in much more; you can see things that are well off to the side. Now, the next step is to refocus, while maintaining a peripheral awareness. This is the skill that some martial artists cultivate for situations with multiple opponents or other unpredictable occasions.

Looking at very little and seeing a quite a lot is critical.
You can zoom in on something with high precision while maintaining a very deep awareness of surroundings. Along these lines, chess players must let the unconscious flow while the conscious leads and follows, sorting out details, putting things in order, making precise mathematical calculations.

If the opponent’s movement is quick,
then quickly respond;
if his movement is slow,
then follow slowly

In our discipline of choice, we cultivate this experience by converting all the other surrounding information into unconsciously integrated data instead of ignoring it.

In time, I have come to understand those words. “At the opponent’s slightest move, I move first” as pertaining to intention-reading and ultimately controlling intention. The deepest form of adherence or shadowing involves a switching of roles, where the follower becomes followed in the relationship in which time seems to twist in a tangle of minds – this is how the great Tai Chi or Aikido artist guides the opponent into a black hole.

I turned this training to my advantage making my opponents explode from mental contribution because of my higher threshold for discomfort. In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present, calm under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocre. In competition, the dynamics often painfully transparent. If one player is serenely present and other is being ripped apart by internal issues, the outcome is already clear. The prey is no longer objective, makes commanding mistakes, and the predator moves in for the kill. While more subtle, this issue is perhaps even more critical in solitary pursuits like such as writing, painting or learning. In the absence of continual external reinforcement, we must be our monitor and quality of presence is often the best gauge. We cannot expect too much of excellence if going “through the motions” is the norm of our lives. On the other hand, in deep fluid presence becomes second nature, then live, art and learning take on a richness that will continually surprise and delight. Those who excel are those who maximize each moment’s creative potential for these masters of living, presence to the day to day learning.-climatic moments when everything is on the line.. The more present we are at practice, the more present we will be in competition, at the exam, operating table, the big stage…We have to be prepared for the lifestyle of reinforcement. Presence must be like breathing.


Thoughts from a book “The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance”by Josh Waitzkin