Maybe you are like me. Maybe you are an expert at certain things, because you have done them for a long time, and because you are passionate about them. But did you know that even experts need teachers, gurus or masters to inspire them and help them grow? No matter how good we are at things, we always need someone there to guide or mentor us, so we can continue to evolve.
Why? Because it’s easy for us as humans to get stuck in a rut, even without realizing that we are stuck!
And when we get stuck, our brains get stuck too, hardening into habits, beliefs and attitudes that may not serve us as the world around us continues to evolve.
You Can Teach and Old Dog New Tricks But Without Practice, It’s Hard! (Literally)
The human brain is very adaptable. In infancy and childhood the brain is very malleable, and learning and assimilating new information is easy to do. As we age, our brains become more fixed, and change becomes more difficult. But this does not mean that change is impossible! This simply means that we need to make more of an effort to seek out opportunities for learning, opportunities for growth and expansion, in order to keep our brains functioning at their prime.
The brain is like a computer. The connections (thoughts, patterns, beliefs, habits) we use often, are stronger than the connections we use infrequently. This is why habits that we’ve had for decades are much harder to break than habits we’ve only recently acquired. When we are young, very few habits and patterns and connections have been set. When we are in school, learning sports, music, language, our brains are constantly being re-wired, challenged and re-arranged. So, like play-dough, our brains are shaped and reshaped again.
Once we settle down in our lives, we truly do begin to settle. We leave school, we leave some of our childhood hobbies behind because we have work or family obligations, we become good at our job, our relationships become set, and so does our brain. Like play-dough left out for too long without being manipulated, our brains begin to harden and form. Which can be good. Until it isn’t.
Unlike our hardened brains, the world continues to evolve. Technology changes, rules change, relationships change, children grow, parents age, and jobs are lost. Suddenly, we realize that we too need to adapt. But when we try to learn, we realize how hard it is! And we get frustrated and we want to quit!
But instead of quitting, all we need to do is add water and stir!
How Having a Teacher, Guru or Master Helps Us Adapt
No, our brains aren’t really hardened. With a little water and a little mixing, we can once again make our brains as malleable as they were when we were young. Keeping our brains flexible allows us to learn, grow, change and adapt to our circumstances at any age. How do we do this? Through working with a teacher, guru or master. Working with others keeps us fresh, keeps our brains soft and moldable and keeps us in the habit of learning, so whenever we are called upon to adapt; we can.
Whether it’s a teacher, who can teach us something that we don’t know, a guru who can walk us along a path that they themselves have walked, or a master, who can push us to a different level of understanding or skill, continuing to learn throughout our whole lives is vitally important. Not only because it’s fun to learn and expand, but because it helps us in the long run. Working with others allows us to continue to challenge ourselves, it creates new connections in our brains, and it keeps us flexible and easily adaptable. Working with others is like sprinkling water on our paly-dough. Which is a smart thing to do.
Because the world continues to change. And we need to be able to change with it. Comfortably.