Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 283
Yin and Yang of Learning
How often have you heard someone say “ Learn from your mistakes”? I’m afraid I have to shoot that question down. Do you think people like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos spent time looking at all the businesses that failed and then put in lots of time trying to understand why they failed? Of course not. They would study successful businesses that have thrived and figure out how to apply that understanding to their own ideas.
Tai Chi study is no different. We don’t seek out people who try to do Tai Chi and just can’t put it together, and then spend time trying to figure out why. We look at the masters and study how they do what they do. I don’t spend much time teaching students what not to do, unless doing actions in an incorrect way might lead to them hurting themselves. I spend most of the time showing and explaining the why and how of the movement and have them copy that. Only once the students have a good grasp of how and why, can they then integrate this knowledge into their area of strengths.
“Study your successes so you can repeat them and allow them to multiply.” We all have special areas of expertise. As a friend and mentor once said, “We are all above average in something.” If you can discover what your special skill area is, then you can put effort into making your unique skill area grow. Teaching has always been a strength area for me. It comes naturally – brings me great pleasure. Working on mechanical things is a challenge for me. It takes a lot of effort for me, so I usually end up putting off projects that require that skill.
Yang learning is seeking knowledge from outside one’s self – expanding out to understand a new area of possible interest. Yin learning is digesting what you acquired and making it your own, in your own unique way. Yang learning is going to the store and buying the ingredients to make a stew, while yin learning is allowing the various ingredients to slowly simmer together to create a harmonious final dish.
In Tai Chi we seek the knowledge of the various “ingredients” – physical, philosophical, spiritual, and let these all simmer together for the rest of our practice lives.