I’ve been in practice for over 25 years. But I still remember clearly how I felt when I first rolled up at the college. Excited, yes. But, not being a natural student, I was also terrified. Learning has always been hard for me. And the thought of going back to a learning environment for 12 months (my first course of many) had me daunted for the months before my first day. I felt like I wasn’t going to be good enough, smart enough or capable enough. Turns out, this is a common feeling amongst health practitioners – before study, throughout study and also well past graduation. Well past.
The first day at college was filled with new experiences and a lot of information. So much information I didn’t think I would ever get to the point of remembering it let alone learning how to apply it. Fortunately, I’m a stubborn sod. If I was going to spend the money on the course, then I was going to do my utmost to get everything I could from it. After five years I completed my Bachelor of Health Science in Acupuncture. Four years prior, I began my career as a massage therapist.
Every time I went to conferences I felt somehow out of place because the shallowness of my knowledge was shown up time and time again. It was only when I voiced this to other practitioners, I found that I wasn’t alone. No matter how much a person knew about a particular aspect of their modality, even presenters, they all felt their depth of understanding was still limited. That they are not quite enough.
This for me became the point when I felt the true learning began. It allowed me the luxury of knowing I had limitations but also gave me the fire to push me forward to seeking more knowledge. I even remember at the 19-year mark considering throwing in the towel and leaving practice as I still spent much of my time scratching my head wondering what I was doing. Fortunately, I attended a seminar that changed the entire way I practiced overnight. My results sky rocketed and I found a re-invigorated focus for my practice. Knowing that even after so many years in practice such a mammoth shift in my knowledge definitely brought things into perspective.
A famous martial arts master in China called Li Zi Ming noted in his biography at 80 years old after studying his art for over 6 decades ‘I realise now I have only just scratched the surface’.
This has become my constant reminder that there is still much to learn and better ways I can help people with their pain and suffering. It feels almost liberating.
These days I spend much more time learning than I felt like I did when I was training not because I have to but because I have learnt to embrace learning, whether it be formally, via seminars or getting together with colleagues.
- Author: Jeff Shearer