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Lucy Kairu
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Lucy Kairu

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Empty your cup, that you may be filled.
Emptying our cups
We all have situations where knowledge, or at least what we think we know, gets in the way of advancement. For some, it is with sports ("I already know how to take a shot, I don't need your method!"), business ("I ran a company for 20 years, I don't need some kid telling me what to do!"), school ("I read the book, went to class, did the homework, I just don't get Calculus."), a hobby ("Why would I waste my money on a workshop?!"), parenting ("Don't tell me how to raise my kid!"), therapy ("I already understand that my childhood impacted me, there's no need to talk about it."), or an infinite number of other things. The more time and effort you put into learning these things, it seems the more difficult it is to put what you have learned aside, and view the subject anew, to learn from someone else without tuning out what doesn't align with what you already believe, to let yourself be a blank canvas, an empty cup. It sounds a whole lot easier than it is-- our brains have a way of nudging us and saying "we know this", and that nudging is what prevents us from truly absorbing the material of a lecture/book/conversation, finding it 'boring', and thinking it can't help us. 

I am no exception.
In my teens and twenties, I studied yoga, nutrition, meditation, and earned a degree in psychology and philosophy; at 30 I completed a certification course to become a yoga instructor, as well as another exercise method that concentrates on body and mind (willPower & grace). I have embraced the mentality of being present in the moment, and accepting myself each day without comparing myself to anyone else or even myself at a different point in time; I push myself in positive ways, within my capabilities, without fear of failure. I have learned a lot about the way to live a peaceful, healthy life, and applied much of it to my own life, as well as those of the people I encounter. I know enough to know that I still have so much more to learn, but also enough to believe that I have a grasp on the principles. In trying to manage my health problems, I have been to dozens of doctors, both traditional and non-traditional, trying a wide variety of approaches, and a few of them several times with slight variations. I consider myself to be very open-minded, wanting to learn as much as I can, understand further, and give new things a chance, even if they conflict with my experience.

I am finding more and more research in the mainstream medical community supporting what I have already learned: that the mind plays a huge role in our physical well-being. From helping the nervous system and organs to function better, decreasing pain, increasing the strength of the immune system, and many benefits that are yet to be discovered, there is a very real impact that is possible, measured by legitimate scientific studies-- this isn't all just a bunch of spiritual hippy mumbo jumbo, as many people regarded it as previously. Of course, these plans work in conjunction with nutrition, medication, and physical therapy, creating an integrative approach; like with most things in life, an approach that takes into account all the major factors is often the best one.
There's one big obstacle for me though... my experience and studies are getting in the way. I have to imagine that my health would be considerably worse if I was not using the techniques that I do, but I am not seeing the results that I believe I can. Every documentary I watch, every article I read, every program I consider, my response to the mind, nutrition, medication, exercise, and related components is the same, "I already do that." Despite being open-minded, it's really difficult to agree to spend thousands of dollars to attend an 'intensive' program when I read that the main agenda is a basic introduction to yoga, meditation, nutrition, etc, especially considering I could very well teach these classes.

But I haven't tried it exactly their way. I haven't heard their exact words. I haven't heard their exact experiences. I haven't tried their exact techniques and suggestions. I haven't been in their exact setting. I haven't tried their exact specially designed diet. I know I am not the only one to run into this problem; this is the reason why there are therapists that specialize in treating therapists. Sometimes you need to work with people that are accustomed to their students/patients coming in with a certain amount of knowledge and experience, but that doesn't mean that you can't try to start from the beginning with them, using their approach.

It is possible that our previous teachers missed one key thing that will make it click for us in a new way. We need to continually empty our cups and allow others to teach us. Sometimes we end up learning from unexpected people in situations that seem far from ideal; everyone we encounter has something to teach us if we are open to it. In learning from each person, we can objectively reconcile our new thoughts with our previous thoughts, and continue to grow and shape our world view every day. 
Incase the text I put on the image of my tea cup is too small to read, it tells a story I have tried to keep in mind since I first heard it in college:
A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."
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