Via Basel: Learning By Teaching

Art by Robbie Porter

All through our lives we learn by processing information as well as experiences. These can be facts and knowledge, skills, and methods in a variety of aspects, personal relations as well as professional and public ones. Our ancestors had to be fast and efficient in learning life skills in order to survive in a hostile and dangerous environment. Lucky for us these days our survival is not as much at stake, at least in the short term, but life’s quality and extent of suffering or satisfaction is still very much a function of these learned skills. These can be cognitive, experiential, or some combination of the two.

Looking back from a personal perspective, especially related to my profession, it has been a continuous process of learning and absorbing information, ideas, and procedures to help patients with their orthopedic issues. Lately, I have embarked on a different but complementary quest to disseminate mindfulness for wellbeing, after practicing it for many years, before I started teaching and lecturing on the subject. Of course, I had to prepare and investigate to support my teaching abilities. I gradually noticed that not only did the depth of my understanding of it increase, which I expected, but my own practice of mindfulness improved. I then realized, that applied also to my orthopedic practice. For many more years I was involved in teaching residents as well as health professionals and the public regarding a variety of common orthopedic ailments. I not only became a better giver of health care but also was able to help myself in the inevitable wear and tear happening to my body as I put more and more miles on it.

As we teach a subject (any subject) we not only become more knowledgeable about it but we embody it, especially if we do it repetitively. Instead of just “doing ” it, we “become” it, and it becomes harder and harder not to live by the same principles we are expounding. We become less hypocritical and more authentic.

So now, go forth, find what you are passionate about, immerse yourself in it, investigate it, and start teaching it in your own way, on your own timeline, and enjoy giving and sharing of your talents and wisdom. May the force be with you.

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, and social engagement.

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