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Learning continued: Detachment

In the previous post, the excerpt focused on learning to consciously inhibit reactions to stimuli as the basis for performing actions in a way that does not interfere with natural function.

In this post, we continue this discussion with the attitude necessary for achieving this sort of learning: detachment.


Learning in this way requires the cultivation of an attitude of detachment; one must focus not on what one wants to accomplish but on the process of getting there. This is easy to state in theory; in practice it requires not only a willingness to examine one's ambitions but also the very process of learning. When we try to get better through constant practice, we congratulate ourselves on how hard we are trying, and feel secure in the fact that, if we work hard enough, we are at least doing our best.

Shifting our attention to how we work, to using less effort, to paying attention to the process of how the body works in activity, gives us no such assurance. We no longer know if we're working hard enough, and cannot be sure we're doing our best. It is not even clear, when we work this way, whether the approach can even work, since all our beliefs are connected with trying, and without trying, we no longer believe our way of working will get us to our goal!

Working in this way thus forces us to give up our most cherished beliefs -- in ourselves, in what we value, and in the meaning of excellence. We think we can be detached and yet remain who we are, but the real meaning of detachment is that we have to change the very foundation of how we view learning and how we view ourselves.

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