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Tips for Transformative Learning

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February 9, 2013 by Dr. Bob Weathers

In the Eastern tradition of Zen, there is the notion of “beginner’s mind.” To adopt this attitude, of beginner’s mind, requires that we stay always open to new insights. Even when encountering what may feel like familiar material, we are to approach it with a childlike receptivity. Perhaps we first visited this material a year ago. But we are no longer that same person. Now we have the opportunity to digest and incorporate this information from a vantage point one year more mature.

So the first tip for transformative learning — where we are truly changed by what we are reading or hearing — is to come at material, old or new, with the curiosity and wonder of a child.

Second tip: it really makes a difference when we consciously shift our perspective from being in the role of a passive learner to that of being an active mentor. For example, try reading and engaging the material, in this ongoing blog on recovering from addiction, more actively than usual.

Specifically, commit yourself to the explicit aim of sharing or discussing what you learn with someone else within 48 hours after you learn it. This “someone” could be your friend, family member, fellow classmate, and certainly, your client, if you’re currently involved in a coaching or counseling capacity.

I promise you, if you take on this new perspective — becoming an active mentor yourself — you will notice significant changes in your mental and emotional processes as you learn any new material. You will not only better absorb what you read and what is said in blogs like this, but your technical vocabulary will be expanded; your human understanding deepened; and your motivation to practically apply new insights and knowledge will be increased dramatically.

This material will literally come alive for you! Plus, you will be preparing yourself all along to do what is more and more often asked of us as coaches, therapists, and counselors. Namely, to “translate” important mental health information “into English” for lay and professional audiences; and to do so in a way that is not only organized and clear, but also stimulating and inspiring.

You can do it, and learning as an active mentor, will help you immeasurably!

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