There are two ways of working with new information. The first is going in search of information that supports what we already know. This can be very beneficial. It can deepen our understanding of our practice and help integrate what we’ve previously been taught. The second way of working with new knowledge is to welcome information that challenges what we know. This is where it gets tricky.
While it is great to have our efforts validated, it is a slippery slope. When we seek out information that supports our opinions we run the risk of mental ruts. It is easy to dig deeper into our habits of teaching and practice, and with each new piece of evidence that challenges what we already think, veer farther and farther away from a genuinely curious mind. We might find ourselves responding to discussion very adamantly with something to the effect of “but this is how it should be done” or “but this is how I was taught.” The best each of us can hope for is to teach or practice the best we can with the information we have. As times change, and we gather new information, we should still hope to do the best we can with the new information we have.
If we welcome knowledge that challenges our current beliefs we evolve. This can be very painful, especially if new knowledge is in direct conflict with something we’ve been teaching or practicing for a long time. This can make us feel like we have been fooled, or that we’ve wasted our time. None of this is the case. We did the best we had with what we had to work with. If we take this further and dare to integrate something that was once in conflict with our options, we actually strengthen our practice and teaching.
As we learn more, it is our duty as carriers of the lineage to let go of what no longer serves our community and ourselves. It is our duty to seek out information, some of which will validate and some of which will challenge. That is progress. Those who have taught before did so with the best information they had at the time. We owe it to them to do the same.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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