When we think of learning, we often focus on cognitive functions and memory. But learning doesn’t happen just in our heads. I think there's a benefit in looking at learning from the holistic perspective that involves body, mind, and spirit (I am talking about human spirit here). If the learning is powerful, what we learn becomes integrated into our belief system and behavior. Learning has the potential to change not just what we know, but who we are. How can we experience holistic learning? Here’re a few suggestions:
- Let your heart and passion drive your learning. We are so conditioned to follow somebody else’s curriculum from school to college to corporate training, we come to believe that there is no learning without a syllabus. Try setting your own learning agenda and let your curiosity guide you. Learn something not because you have to, but because you want to.
- Develop your intuition. Intuition is a powerful blend of experience, awareness and inner wisdom. It offers you a shortcut to knowledge that you may not gain through logical reasoning. For more information on how to develop intution, check out the intuition resources at the Institute of HeartMath.
- Engage your multiple intelligences when you learn. You can find tips on how to do it in my post "8 times smarter: learning with multiple intelligences." Think about how you can use various senses in learning.
- Be emotionally engaged. Feeling inspired requires consistent work. Create your own learning “bliss bank” and fill it with words, images, articles, and other things and activities that motivate you. When you need an emotional uplift, go to your “bliss bank.”
- Experiment with your learning environment. Pay attention to how the physical space and tools you use to learn make you feel. Escape into nature to see how fresh air and movement influence your thinking and memory. For example, you can experiment with the "memory palace" technique as you walk along a familiar route.
- Approach learning as play. Our fear of failure and self-limiting constraints often prevent us from entertaining our best ideas. Play is less threatening and can help us unleash the creative potential inside. Next time you need to solve a problem, first create a list of bad ideas. Get this fear of "looking stupid" out of your system. You may be surprised how this simple technique can lead you to some great solutions.
- Consider the moral and ethical implication of what you are learning. Will the use of your new knowledge be congruent with your values and beliefs? Are you a better person because of this recently acquired skill? Focus on developing skills that help your life mission.
Do you have any suggestions for how we can learn better holistically?
Orientation Series: 21 Steps to Becoming a Better Learner:
Step 1: Setting your learning objectives
Step 2: Taking an inventory of your skills
Step 3: Taking an Inventory of Your Learning Tools
Step 4: Finding opportunities for cognitive apprenticeship
Step 5: Determining the "IIQ" of what you read
Step 6: Choosing helpful books for law students
Step 7: “The Three 'P's of Performance” in Action
Step 8: Tapping into your social networks
Step 9: Identifying your learning barriers
Step 10: Finding your sources of motivation
Step 11: Managing your energy
Step 12: Focusing on how you think
Step 13: Mastering informal learning and professional development
Step 14: Asking Good Questions
Step 15: Condensing your knowledge
Step 16: Memorizing
Step 17: Becoming a reflective learner
Step 18: Establishing rhythms, rituals, and routines