The result of this process is the uncomfortable realization that my ability to learn has ossified.
Although I'm continuously taking on new projects I actually rely heavily on skills and patterns of thinking I already have--in essence playing different versions of the same song. This kind of thinking is highlighted during my work with Aracely. I was resisting so much of what she offered me because it didn't fall in line with things I already knew and were familiar with--I was at a certain level unable to assimilate the new information because it so radically differed from what I already knew.
Many times when I find I'm confronted with information outside of my sphere of experience I shut down a little--there is part of me that unconsciously parses out information as irrelevant so I go to whatever point in the information I can relate to and that is about as deep as it goes. I write this at the risk of sounding like a lunkhead. However I'm actively working to overcome this tendency and I wanted to share some of what I'm discovering.
I remember a fable about how when Columbus's ships came to the new world the people on the shore literally could not see them even though they were very prominent on the horizon. The reason was simply the information was so strange and so far out of their experience they couldn't parse the image. It’s an interesting story because when I heard it I couldn't imagine NOT seeing something in front of my face yet here I am in my own learning process with my own blinders--having to find brand new ways to look at information so I can become conversant.
It’s helpful that I'm working in other areas where I really need the guidance of an instructor because it’s making my mind more receptive. Also Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's words are especially relevant "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few." How can I learn something completely new if I try to experience it the way I experience familiar things?
I can only proceed with an open mind, develop more curiosity and pay attention when my mind wants to drift to something comfortable and familiar. These are muscles to build in myself. Let’s see where this goes.