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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Make It A Practice

From my TTouch notes: TTouch is a practice ...

I love to learn!  I seem to always be taking a class or a seminar, or reading a new book, or somehow expanding what I know.  There are so many new ideas to try, and new perspectives to gain.  But just learning something on the surface level isn't enough.  Knowing that 3+3=6 is a great party trick to impress your parents' friends when you are in first grade.  That is surface knowledge.  But until you learn to experience what 3+3=6 means in your own life, it can't really help you.  By taking that learned surface level fact and giving it meaning in your life, you can experience so much more.  3 jellybeans + 3 jellybeans = 6 jellybeans!  3 dollars + 3 dollars = 6 dollars and a new toy from the store! 

The same holds true for the things we learn as adults.  We can learn all sorts of cool party knowledge - the facts that impress our friends and start conversations.  But until we take those same facts and make them personal for ourselves, we cannot find all the potential they hold. 

When I'm learning something new, of course I first learn it on a surface level.  But then I try to make it a part of who I am and how I do things.  Some of these things will eventually fall by the wayside because they don't resonate with me, and that is ok.  But much of this new knowledge becomes a part of me and shapes who I am becoming and my perspective. 

By incorporating new knowledge and skills into my life, I must take a closer look at myself and see what changes need to be made.  It's not always easy to change.  Sometimes I have to look more closely at things I would prefer to ignore.  I have to learn to forgive myself for things I may have done in the past that I now know how to do differently.  But this is how I'm able to grow.

I certainly don't train dogs now the way I did when I was first learning.  To begin with, my first dog and I went to a traditional obedience class where we were fitted with a choke chain and I was told to make sudden about turns and yank my dog off his feet to teach him to pay attention to me.  While I didn't like treating my dog that way, I didn't know a better way.  I had paid this trainer money to show me the best way to gain control of my dog, and so I trusted that this was the best way.

Of course, I have learned so much about dogs and how they learn since then.   I now know that those methods aren't necessary in order to teach a dog.  I now have a much better relationship with my dogs because they trust me and I trust them.  We are not training with methods that pit our strength against each other in a constant battle for who will come out on top.  Now we work side by side as partners with mutual trust and respect.

But these changes would not have come about if I had just learned new things on the surface.  Sure, I could listen to others talk about it, and I could read about it, or watch videos about it.  But until I decided to take a look at how I had been training, and until I began to really explore how to change what I was doing, I was not able to make those ideas a part of myself.  Now, this nicer view of teaching dogs is part of who I am.  I cannot go back to the person and the trainer I was back then.  I have changed.  This newness has become a part of me.

Allow those things that resonate with you to become a practice in your own life.  Make an effort to put them into practice every day.  Practice, as they say - makes PERFECT!! 


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