The best learning happens in the spaces

We can be so attached to a specific outcome, that we leave no space for the interesting discovery we might make on the way.

Typical, isn’t it? We have an allocated amount of time, and we want to achieve something in it. This is predicated on the patient or client responding to our instructions with a beautifully performed technique. Success all round, right? Everyone’s happy?

If success is measured in this way, it is a fast track to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. When a person doesn’t seem to be “getting” a technique, both the practitioner and the person themselves start to tighten up in the face of apparent failure. Both struggle harder to achieve the desired outcome before the time is up. This rarely works.

But what if we are missing the point? Sure, it may not be exactly what you set out to do, but what information is arising that might be the very most important thing to find out?

Perhaps you ask how something feels. You get “I don’t know” or “I can’t feel anything”. You learn then that for this person, that question is way too spacious at present for them to know how to respond.  If you close the question parameters a bit, for example, “Do you notice a difference between this or that?” and you get the same “don’t know” response, then maybe what you are learning is that the person needs help with how to perceive and interpret their own sensations. Awesome! That is critical for so much more than this one exercise, so let’s do that first. It will make everything easier later.

Maybe instead, they make a discovery when performing the movement based on their current habits and available strategies that they suddenly relate to something else that they do in their world – they make a connection that you possibly couldn’t have made. “Oh!”, they say, “I move this way when I do that thing in my life!” New meaning emerges, and we find a new entry point, a new way to see it that opens up other possibilities. The session ends somewhere vastly different, but has been a huge jump in insight for both you and the patient.

So when that frustration starts to rise, or even the mild panic that you aren’t achieving the specific objective you had set out for that session, pause, breathe, and ask yourself… if the real learning is not in the outcome but in the journey, what are we finding out together than informs our next step?


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