The Learning Lifestyle
When do you think something becomes a lifestyle? For me, something becomes a part of life or a lifestyle when that activity no longer stresses me out. When something becomes a part of the routine, something that I look forward to doing every single day. But what is the learning lifestyle?
I was not consciously aware that learning was a part of my lifestyle. I am always interested in learning something new, something off-beat. It doesn’t have to have any ulterior motive. This interest of mine took me to Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. I went there to learn about Tibetan Medicines, a course that I had found while browsing the internet randomly. The course material sounded so interesting; I was excited to take up the course.
It was a 5-day course, every day from morning 9 to 5. There were so many participants from around the world. I instantly made friends from Japan, Spain, Germany, the USA and other states of India. The course was excellent in terms of quality. The teachers were good, the course material was great and most importantly, the fellow students were so knowledgeable about other aspects, I felt that my decision of taking up this course was definitely worth it.
I was learning every day from the teachers and my classmates about different things. One day, a lady from Germany asked me about my motivation to do this course. I didn’t have an answer because I usually don’t give much thought to learning something. If I like it, I do it. I told her the same thing.
She probed further about what other courses I had done in the past. Honestly, the other things that I learned in the past aren’t even from similar fields. After knowing that, she smiled and told me that I am not taking this course because I got interested. I am learning everything that I am liking because learning has become a part of my lifestyle. The life I am leading is all about learning new things, exploring new concepts in life. Without realizing it, I was using my learnt concepts and skills subconsciously in real life. That’s what she told me that it is not important to put everything I learn to practice consciously. Sometimes, the mind knows what it requires and from where it can get the required skill.
The important thing, according to her, was that I accept the learning lifestyle, I understand that it has become a part of my routine and not stop even if I feel something is not related to other things I have learnt in life.
She made me understand that my lifestyle is the learning lifestyle. It all makes sense now because since childhood, I have taken up so many hobbies, went to so many workshops and seminars and none of them was related to each other. I enjoyed doing things back then and I enjoy doing things now. The learning lifestyle is something I want to make sure that I continue for a lifetime.
When the lockdown happened in March 2020, the only thing that kept me sane & in routine was learning. During the 2 years of pandemic and a little before that, I took up a few courses, classes & learnt variedly different things that somehow changed me as a person for the better.
I was always interested in Ayurveda but there were no shorter courses to get a glimpse into the system by some official body. When I read about Tibetan Medicine & its short duration courses, I was immediately sold because it was conducted by Men-Tsee-Khang, the official body of Tibetan Medicine whose head is Dalai Lama.
This was a 5-day course in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. From morning 9 to 5, I was in the class with the masters of Tibetan Medicine and a multicultural group of students. The day began with a healthy breakfast and green tea. Then the session would go on till 1 pm only to be halted by lunch. The lunch was a mix of Indian & Tibetan cuisine. There was a red chilly chutney that nobody could eat except me. 😛
The session would go on till 5 pm with a small tea break around 4. I learnt so much about nature, seasons, herbs, their effects on the human body and many more things that I became more self-aware about my health. The main takeaway from the course? Emphasis on healthy sleep and a healthy diet.
I have very high regard for farms and farming as an occupation. One day, I dream of farming things by myself and eating the healthiest of stuff. But dreaming about it and living it in a real-life are two different things. Living in a city like Mumbai, I had no choice but to keep dreaming about farming.
Sure, I could have plants on my balcony but I was not interested in that. I wanted to farm and that’s how I stumbled upon Hydroponics. I researched quite a lot on this subject before getting to the learning from someone part. On one hand, Hydroponics had everything going in my favour. Less space, lower investment, easy to take care of, could be done in Mumbai etc. But on the other hand, it was very hard to find someone who would really teach the technique like a course.
After searching for weeks, I stumbled upon one person/company who was taking 2-day workshops on the subject. I paid the fee, went to Navi Mumbai to learn about it. It wasn’t really in-depth but it still clarified my queries.
Unfortunately, I didn’t pursue this technique further as the crops I could grow through Hydroponics were very limited. But I did learn to not waste water and use as little water as possible for my daily chores and consumption.
Here comes the king. I have been using Coursera for years. I used to use it as my YouTube or Netflix alternative because I learned a lot on different subjects through Coursera. When the lockdown started, I took it to the next level, I bought their yearly subscription where I could take complete n number of courses on their website and earn certificates for completion.
Before this, I had completed about 4 courses on Coursera mostly in the field of History. After I started the yearly subscription, I completed 14 courses and got my certificates for all of them. Right from Psychology to History to Graphic Designing to Mental Health During Covid to VR Production, I learnt so much that my brain could’ve exploded.
I completed these courses within the span of 6 months of complete lockdown and as lockdown started getting lighter, I started going out and my focus started shifting towards the outdoorsy stuff. The next 6 months of Coursera’s subscription was a waste, but hey! I earned 14 certificates which means I used them perfectly as per the cost of individual certificates.
Coming to more outdoor stuff, this was AWESOME! I am not a fan of F1 or other racing tournaments, but I love driving. I always think that I could’ve been a race car driver given my skills. I wanted to give it a go Karting. In Mumbai, there are only a few places where Karting is done and out of them, only 1 place offered workshops on ‘how’ to kart.
The price of this workshop was crazy (for me, at least), but I went ahead and paid for it because I really wanted to do it. I didn’t regret a single moment of this 2-day workshop because I got to learn the other side of Karting which is used by the more serious side. I also got to kart for about 180 rounds in that amazing circuit. I also got to race with the fellow participants and I came 1st once.
It was expensive, but because of the fun and learning I had, I felt it was well worth the price. I didn’t do anything further because becoming a race car driver demands a lot of money (according to them) and I neither have the time nor money to spend on achieving the F1 dream. However, I do feel that my on-road driving has improved a lot by doing that 2-day workshop.
There was a plan that we wanted to move to Vienna, Austria. It looked like it was happening in December so we started planning backwards and thought of learning the basics of the German language before moving. I & Parampara first started with the A1 course. It was a 2-month course which began on an easy note but as we went along, it started getting difficult. We finally understood why lots of people say that German is a difficult language to learn.
After finishing the A1 course, we were supposed to give an exam, pass and then opt for A2. Because of the pandemic, they were not taking exams physically and gave us an option to move to A2 directly and give the A2 level exam after finishing the course. We took that option because we had nothing else to do and this particular course made sure that we woke up early every day. We finished the A2 in 2 more months, gave the exam and flunked in the ‘listening’ section. (I blame their horrible acoustics but then I’d look like I’m justifying)!
I looked for a cheaper alternative to the adrenaline rush that I got from Karting and I ended up taking a Rifle Shooting course. It was (relatively) closer to my house, I could afford it for years and obviously, shooting at targets is FUN! I took a beginner course for 2 weeks. I tried my hand on the rifle for 6 days and then 6 days on the pistol. I personally loved rifle shooting but the instructor suggested that I go ahead with a pistol in case I plan on doing a 3-months course where I could choose only one weapon for that duration.
Apparently, the rifle was easy to manage and I was good at it. A pistol, on the other hand, is not as easy as a rifle. My accuracy with rifle and pistol were similar hence the instructor told me to go ahead with a pistol. I did pay the first instalment for a 3 months course but I didn’t get through with the course for some reason.
Although, after finishing my beginner’s course, I participated in a tournament where I stood at 14th rank out of 25, so that was progress.
Yoga – Teachers Training Course
I have been doing Yoga for a couple of years now at home. My mom completed her Teachers Training Course with The Yoga Institute and she suggested that I should do it.
After giving a lot of thought to it, I decided to go for it. It was a 2-month long course, 5 days a week for 4 hours every day. I was present for all but one day in the course. From the first day itself, I realised that this is not just about poses and breathing exercises and that’s the point from when I got hooked to the course.
It was all about the Yogic philosophy in detail. What I loved about the course was that hardly 30% importance was given to the physical exercises and poses but 70% was all about theory. It wasn’t any boring theory but useful in understanding how to take care of body and mind. With the Covid still prevailing, it was an important course for me because it helped me understand myself even better.
So, this is how I understood the meaning of ‘The Learning Lifestyle’ and kept going. I hope to continue my journey of learning in this new continent as well because as my parents say, “Learning something never goes waste”.