A Spanish Analogy
When I began to learn Spanish some of my initial thoughts were 'boy do these people speak fast!'. As a beginner I can still remember watching Spanish television for the first time and thinking to myself 'how will I ever be able to comprehend a conversation 'en español'?'.
Nevertheless I had made a decision so I was going to persevere. Days went by and I gradually started to understand words dotted here and there. Weeks passed and I began to understand a couple of sentences. After a few months I could largely understand the gist of most conversations centered around the topics I studied.
But, what changed? Well I'm pretty certain the whole Hispanic community didn't come together and decide to slow down so this Kerry man could learn Spanish. In reality, what changed was my understanding and with this my perception of the language. When I started to notice some individual words the language appeared slightly slower to me. When I started to understand some sentences it appeared slightly slower again. When I started to understand the meaning behind conversations the speed perception gap had almost approached my native language level.
Today, as I am learning more about clarity of mind and human performance I can draw parallels from my time spent learning Spanish. Today I choose what I learn and who I learn it from, so there is no reason for me to be bored and not interested in what the teacher is saying. What I have started to notice is just how frequently my attention is following aimless thoughts. I have begun to see that this lack of attention could be the reason for a lower retention rate of information.
However, there is good news. The fact that I am more aware that my attention is following wandering thoughts is progress in itself. It shows that the space in between, where I live in reality, is widening. Just like when Spanish people appeared to speak too quickly when I didn't understand any words, my scattered attention didn't appear real to me when I had no understanding or awareness around what was going on. To paraphrase a quote from an Aikido master I once heard; the key isn't found in never losing my balance but on knowing where my center is.
Do you have a wandering mind? Would you like to become a focused ninja? If you have any insights, questions or recommendations feel free to leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.