Learning as we grow

By Martha O’Regan

This whole Earth School is a trip don’t you think? This place where we show up every day to learn how to navigate life with its day to day ups and downs and “ooops, human moments” — all without a 15 pound textbook to reference whenever a new life experience shows up that lacks a previous orientation. Instead of a textbook, every experience still gets stored in the “brain book” with its various chapters, resources, vocabulary words and table of contents for easy retrieval for purposes of our growth and survival.  Then, there are our personal report cards which reveal how we’ve done up to now; full of stars, smiley faces, letter grades, some “goods” and “excellents,” along with the frowney faces, red marks, “needs improvements” or “unsatisfactory.”

And, what about all the great teachers — each person in our life who shows up right on schedule to either bushwhack us, gently guide us with great advice or an encouraging word, or allow us to try on different personalities or reactions just for size. Our teachers are children, adults, friends, enemies, relatives, folks through school, church, jobs or the grocery store, and even our pets. Each one in service to our growth and evolution — even the ones who taught in ways we wish they hadn’t.  As a matter of fact, those are often our greatest teachers — the ones who made us dig even deeper to find our courage or strength or to learn how to feel compassion or empathy.  Take a moment to close your eyes and allow your mind to recall as many of those teachers and life experiences as you can, letting them just zip through like a movie, going back as far as you can, and without judgment or labeling.

Notice how you feel in your body, not what your emotions are, but what your physical body is revealing in this moment.  Is there an area that just got tighter? Did you experience a new or increased area of pain? If so, take another moment to sit up straight, take in a big “chubby belly” breath, then slowly exhale it towards the area of tension or pain, allowing the air to completely empty, and repeat several times. There is no need to figure out which memory activated the tension but if a particular one reveals itself, take another moment to consider what that experience taught you or perhaps seeing your teacher through a new lens as you remember that they were in Earth School too, learning as they grew also without the handbook.  When we can be in non-judgmental observation of those folks, recognizing that they are doing the best they know to do based on their personal experiences and teachers, it can reduce our own angers or hurts exponentially.  Try that idea on for size and see how it feels.

We all came into this life exactly the same, yet each with our own curriculum, navigating our way through the bumper car experience, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, who has our back and who needs to use us for their own power, or how to love and be loved, all the while seeking the path on our intended life journey with grace and ease. Moving forward, hopefully we can take the wisdom gained so far and find ways to apply it for good, both for self and others, filling up the blank boxes and lines in our life report card with higher marks and more “job well dones” than when we were just starting out. The good news is that we have never failed or will fail any aspect of Earth School as long as we learn the lesson of the experience. And, if we are still learning, then we are still growing. This Earth School is a trip.

Live Well … Have Fun!

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