The Awesome Power of Unlearning

I used to be a competitive barrel racer. I’ve ridden dozens of charging horses through the cloverleaf pattern. Many horses, after running the pattern over and over again, would begin to anticipate each turn so much that they’d cut too soon, either smashing my shin into the metal rim or knocking the barrel over entirely, or both. Those horses had become so trained they’d become losers.

The only way to make them winners again was to “untrain” them. We’d go back to a walking pace and take the corners in different ways so they could unlearn what they thought they knew to do.

A few years back life nailed me hard and I found myself questioning, a lot, about a lot of things I thought I knew — myself, God, how life works. It was scary. I mean I’d spent decades forming my opinion of who I was, what I was, what my strengths and skills were, how to do things and get through life. Sitting in the question, “What if I’ve been wrong about it all?” was deeply disturbing, verging on a psychological or existential crisis.

Yet under the veneer of fear, was also curiosity, a little spark of excitement, a fragile thread of hope as I began brushing against the possibility that maybe I, and life itself, was actually far more than I’d believed.

The more I let go of the false security blanket of knowing based on the past and shaped by what this insane world puts forward as real, the more I began to experience Source, God, Holy Spirit and my Higher Self directly.

Allowing space and uncertainty for our minds to be untrained doesn’t mean we’re losing our minds! Just the opposite, it means, we’re starting to use more and more of our power and potential. Our True Norths – our deepest values and genuine loves — are still in place as our consciousness expands beyond the chains of old dogmas and programming. We don’t throw away old skill sets or talents; we just open up to use them more fully. We don’t lose our ability to make decisions; we give ourselves a chance to make better ones.

A Course In Miracles advises:

Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, of good or bad, of every thought is judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world … and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

As we all strive to improve ourselves and our lives, we take in a lot of personal and professional development education and training. That’s all well, good and worthwhile, but I think it’s important to remember, that whether it’s winning at barrel racing or winning at life untraining is often the key.

One of the most powerful statements in the Universe is, “I do not know what this situation means, or what I really want from it, or even what I really am, but I am genuinely willing to deeply listen and to learn.”

And guess what?  Yoda agrees!

Here’s to emptying our minds so that they can be refilled, refreshed and re-empowered.

Cylvia Hayes