Last year I was listening to a talk by Tara Brach and I loved a point she made. She said she’d been around spiritual people of many persuasions over more than four decades, and she said what she’s seen is that more important than the specific path they’re following, it’s these three qualities which seem to lead to people genuinely unfolding, or, in their absence, to staying more or less stuck.
I’ve been reflecting on these qualities lately, not only regarding my own spiritual practice but considering the many places they might apply. Want to learn more about your own racial bias and become an ally for people of color? Want to engage in the politics of the day without losing your sh*t or your faith in humanity? Want to learn ANYTHING, like how to be a better gardener, a better listener, a better parent, partner, photographer, climber, or cook? These might help.
I can’t recall the order in which Tara presented these, so I’ll share them in the order in which they live for me.
Be curious and genuinely interested.
Prioritize curiosity over fear, baby! Don’t worry so much about getting it “right,” as that’s one of the quickest ways to cut off your learning. I remember years ago I had a client who was so intent on “getting it right,” as soon as we’d begin to explore a movement pattern, just rwhen I’d invite her to do a movement and sense herself, she’d exclaim, “I GOT IT!” in a way that was clear we could close the door on that, because it was all handled and she “got it.” Umm, not exactly a learning state, though it’s often what we’re praised for in school. “I got it!” A.k.a. I’m done. Instead of “How long can I stay curious, so that more might be revealed to me?” It’s an invitation to beginner’s mind.
Can you imagine what might shift in stuck conversations or situations or our own inner lives if we could bring kindness to ourselves and all others involved? It takes courage, but it works.
This one caught me off guard more than the other two, and yet it makes so much sense. Ready?
Whether you’re trying to learn something new, (a handstand in your yoga class, how to make an amazing curry, how to be more tuned to your own racial biases) wouldn’t it help if we didn’t muck up the process by making it overly serious?
I’m reminding myself of these things frequently lately and I thought you might appreciate them too.
1. Get curious.
2. Be kind.
How can we go wrong with that? And what might go much more amazingly well if we embody those qualities?