One of the main functions and benefits of a mindfulness practice is that it helps you to increase your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity. How does it do this? By helping you to become more observant. The more you are really looking and observing in your life the more you will see, the more you see the more you will understand about the way reality works, and the more you will learn.

Obstacles to mindful learning

Even with effort mindful learning can be difficult because of a variety of factors, amongst them:

  • Our capacity to make reflex judgments
  • Our tendency to focus on what is wrong and who is to blame

So, in order to make ourselves mindful learners we are trying to replace our habitual tendencies to label an experience good or bad, and to focus on who is to blame and replace them instead with two questions:

What can I learn here? And

What can be done?

An example

I’m in a hut looking out on a beach now, but yesterday morning my alarm went at 6am for me wake up to start travelling to my destination. Unfortunately I had gone to bed at 3am the night before finishing work tasks before I left. And well, ok, I was following the Wimbledon final a little as well (very compelling it was too!)

So you know how it is when you get up with three hours sleep, very dis-orienting, body out of balance, mind all over the show. In the taxi on the way to the ferry lots of judgments in my mind “Should have gone to bed earlier, your paying for it now!”, “Shouldn’t have gone on holiday, your too busy”, “Wish the bloody tennis hadn’t been on!” – You know the sort I’m talking about.

About half way through my taxi ride I remembered I am a meditation and mindfulness teacher (Dan-dan-daaaa! Kung-fu panda moment) “Hold on, what can I learn here?” I thought to myself. I noticed that simply the process of abstaining from judgment and taking a curious and observational stance had an immediate clarifying effect upon my mind, and reduced the amount of pain and discomfort in my body. So there is a lot of learning there already. I then discovered that really my fatigue and the circumstances around being tired did not signify that anything was wrong; I had stuff to finish because I’m busy doing fulfilling work, I’m getting up early because I’m going to take a relaxing break on a beach; the temporary suffering coming from a late night and early get-up are just what has to be accepted to get what I want in both ways. The rest of the journey as spent both happily and productively.

The net result; my mood and my experience change for the better, and I start learning good things from what I am experiencing.

A mindful learning practice

If you want to take the content of this article into your week just keep these two questions at the forefront of your awareness during your daily experiences:

  • What can I learn here?
  • What can be done or not done?

Allow them to unlock your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity.

By Toby Ouvry, www.tobyouvry.com, Contributor of //LIVE SIMPLY//