Have you ever been involved in an activity that was very similar to something you’ve already done, but not the same thing? Did your prior knowledge help or hinder the learning?
As I’ve journeyed I’ve encountered a phenomenon in which prior knowledge hinders future learning. In my own practice I have had to be very careful to not assume that a new situation is actually like an old one. There’s always something just different enough that I have to pay attention to.
A particular dance step, relational dynamic, physical space, or task, might remind me of something I already know. That’s the moment my guard goes up a little more, and I ask, but what’s different? If I don’t, I allow a blind spot to emerge. I make assumptions based on prior knowledge of an experience that is not completely the same as the one I’m in. And we know that blind spots and assumptions are causes of unneeded frustration and challenges.
So whenever we arrive in a situation and find it familiar, search for the tiny differences. We’ll be thankful, more astute, and develop a heightened practice of perception – all good things.