Contemplating the question, "When does training become learning?" I find myself thinking of my yoga teacher's words:

"Happiness comes from peace of mind. Peace of mind comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience. That's why we do yoga: to experience being fully present here and now." That's really all there is to learn...and boy, does that take some training!

I learned something about the meaning of training and learning from an ancient Sufi tale called, Fatima, the Spinner and the Tent.

As a young girl, Fatima, daughter of a spinner, traveled with her father to sell his goods. One day, a storm shipwrecked the boat and left her father dead. Fatima was found half-conscious by a family of cloth makers; they took her in and taught her their craft. Later, she was on the seashore when a band of slave traders landed and took her captive. Traveling to Istanbul, they sold her as a slave, and her world collapsed again.

A man who made masts for ships bought Fatima; she worked with him and his wife in the wood yard. She worked so hard that he granted her freedom, and she became his trusted helper in her third career. When she took a cargo of ship masts to sell overseas in China, a typhoon cast her upon a foreign shore. Weeping bitterly, she despaired of her unfortunate fate.

But there was a legend in China that a woman stranger would arrive who would be able to make a tent for the emperor. The emperor sent heralds to the villages in search of foreign women. When Fatima was brought before the emperor and asked whether she could make a tent, she agreed to try. She asked for a rope, but there was none. So she collected flax and spun it into a rope. When she asked for cloth, the right kind did not exist. So she wove some strong fabric. When she asked for tent poles, there were none. So she fashioned them out of wood. When these elements were ready, she made a tent like those that she had seen in her travels. And the emperor, in his gratitude, offered her the fulfillment of any wish.

Learning to become fully present can take many forms. Most of us will be "shipwrecked" at least a couple of times in our lives before we are offered "the fulfillment of any wish." Have you ever been in a situation that was so difficult you could not wait for it to be over? It might help to remember that learning happens when you experience every moment to the fullest, without dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. Be grateful in the knowledge that with every challenge you encounter, you receive a custom-designed training for what it is that you need to learn at that point in time. So be here now, learn and enjoy--it's all good!



JOSEPHINE GROSS, Ph.D., is the co-founder of Gabriel Media Group, Inc., publishers of Networking Times.