My Best Tool for Learning Energy (And Everything Else)

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Being confused is uncomfortable. We tend to avoid it, and rarely look for confusion. But actually, noticing confusion is the best tool I have for exploring energy, and learning in general.

Here’s an example that confused me as I was taking Anatomy and Physiology earlier this year: How do my thoughts cause my arm to move? Roughly, the nerves in the motor cortex send a signal down the spine, which reaches the muscle in my arm, which causes the myosin fibers to grab and “crawl up” the actin fibers in the muscle.

It’s easy to say, “that’s confusing,” and skip it. But hold on. Confusion exists in the human mind, not out in the world. It’s telling me that I don’t understand something. It’s guiding my learning.

Slow down. Sit with that confusion. Accept it, so it’s not something bad, it’s just something that is. Then notice when it happens. Are you confused when I talk about the motor cortex? The signal down the spine? The myosin and actin? That’s what to explore.

I started with that example to show how to use confusion. Now is the harder skill: Noticing confusion in the first place.

Often, confusion isn’t obvious. There aren’t unknown terms like myosin and actin to flag it. Sometimes, we have to search for our own confusion.

Let’s get back to energy. If you ask, “Why does visualizing light in my chest create energy?” you might be told, “Because energy follows intent.”

That doesn’t sound confusing. I know each of the words. I can imagine someone intending something, and the energy following that. Easy.

But try to step through the process. A person intends something. They focus on it. The nerves in their brain fire. And then… the energy moves?

When I try to step through that process, I notice that I am confused. When we get to the energy moving, I wonder, “What happens? Why does that happen? How are those two seemingly-distant events connected?”

It’s easy to ignore this confusion. There are no unknown words. I’ve probably understood everything the speaker intended to convey. If I don’t want to notice that confusion, I don’t have to.

But today, I’m saying: Notice that confusion. Let it guide you. Explore there.

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