It’s because the way we learn in this new paradigm is completely different than any other way we’ve learned before.
When I first came to learn about the principles, I had a hard time putting down my note-pad and pen. I was so keen to learn and so eager for change so I turned to the tools I’d always used to learn: hard work, memorization, practice.
But right away, I heard teachers like Michael Neill and Barbara Patterson saying that it wasn’t necessary to take notes when listening to them and that I didn’t have to memorize anything. “Listen like a rock with ears”, I heard Michael say more than once.
WTF does that mean?
We have been taught to learn one way: to stuff information down our throats like we’re trying to win a pie-eating contest. It can be hard to un-learn that habit when we encounter this insight-based understanding.
One of my favorite stories about this un-learning comes from when I was reading my first book about the Principles, Michael Neill’s The Inside Out Revolution. When I was about 2/3 of the way through, my friend who had introduced me to Michael’s work, asked me how I was enjoying the book.
“It’s good,” I said, with a slight note of puzzlement in my voice. “I’m enjoying it.” I paused while I sought out what I was really feeling and then landed on it. “My only concern is, he hasn’t told me what to DO yet.”
My friend chuckled. “He’s not going to,” she said.
Well then, how will I learn? I thought to myself.
Weightlifting and Insight
As a fiction author, one of my favorite podcasts is one about story structure called Story Grid. One of the hosts of the show, Tim Grahl, is also a competitive weight-lifter. On one episode he shared a story about learning from his weight-lifting coach.
Tim had noticed that the coach tended to explain things in a variety of ways, coming at a problem from several angles. Tim was curious about this and asked him about it. The coach said this by way of explanation. “I’ve figured out that I just need to talk a lot, because different things I say are going to strike people in different ways. The way that you’ll come to understand what I mean is different than the way my next student will. But I never know what that thing is going to be.”
What the coach was describing was insight-based learning.
He knew that each student was going to be struck by insight at a moment that the coach couldn’t predict. But if the students showed up and listened, both the coach and the student could rely 100% on insight showing up as well.
Cultivating Insight and Change
We all have access to wisdom and the intelligence behind life. What we don’t have is control over when wisdom and insight are going to strike us. But what we can do is simply expose ourselves to the conversations that are going on about this understanding, open ourselves up to that wisdom and intelligence, and wait for insight to arrive. Which it always, always does.
One way to get in the way of insight is to clench up about what we’re learning. To try to memorize and make lists of what we should remember. Relaxing into the conversation, listening like ‘a rock with ears’, can feel scary at first. Our need to control things can start screaming at us. “What if I forget? What if I can’t remember what you’ve said in a crucial moment?”
But paradoxically the more we relax and stop worrying about what we need to remember, the more we have access to the innate wisdom that is within each of us.
I like to think of the analogy of floating on my back in a body of water. When we’re first learning to do this, we tend to be anxious and tense (just me?) and not trust that the water will actually hold us up. But I remember that when I was 4 or 5 years old and learning this skill, as I practiced I noticed that the more I relaxed and softened my body, the easier floating on my back became. Eventually, it became automatic for me. If I wanted to float on my back, I was able to relax immediately, knowing the water would hold me up.
The same strategy applies when we’re learning about the 3 Principles. The more we relax, knowing that as spiritual beings having a human experience we are designed to receive insight and wisdom, the more that insight and wisdom is available to us.
Why This Matters
So, why does having insights matter? Why can’t we just memorize what we’re being told and leave it at that?
Memorized facts don’t have the same effect on us and are easily forgotten. What worked to solve a problem for someone else might have zero impact for you.
The power behind insight is that your insights are going to be tremendously meaningful to you. They will make sense to you and shift your world so that everything has changed for the better.
Also, insight lasts forever. Once we see something in a different way, we can unsee it.
Here’s what I’ve learned since coming across the principles: Deep, meaningful change comes via insight.
When we want our lives to change for the better – whether that’s dropping a habit or addiction, or getting along better with our spouse, or being less troubled by anxiety – applying other people’s strategies and techniques isn’t all that helpful. Think of the number of times you’ve done that. How has it worked out for you? For me, I think of the number of times I’ve applied someone else’s advice to my eating habits (eat clean, count your points, eat raw, etc.) and how often that has worked.
Answer: Exactly zero times.
But when we look in the direction that the principles are pointing, we experience insights that mean everything to us, specifically.
And that changes everything.We’ve all had insights, small and large. What are some of your favorites? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.