Wisdom is like marinade. First you take what a book said, or what a teacher said, and then you mix it with your own ideas. Then you add experience and pour in a few buckets of tears. Add memories of lost love, a pinch of personal humiliation and a teaspoon of deep regrets. Add to that a cup of courage. Leave it to soak for a few years and — voila — darn if you have not become wise.
— Marianne Williamson, author of A Year of Miracles
At the end of every yoga class, when we are all relaxed and open after the final shavasana pose, my teacher reads a quote for contemplation. I love this moment, when I’m able to stop and listen long enough for a new idea to sink in. When I’m able to quietly contemplate it against my experience; see where it fits.
We need quiet moments of contemplation. We need time to think through ideas, and transform them into our own. We need time for our experiences and lessons to soak in, to “marinade,” as Marianne Williamson says.
Wisdom does not come through experience alone. Experience is an essential ingredient, but it also comes from the seeking of new ideas, and the contemplation of where they fit amongst the library of our experience. Those are the secret ingredients, nothing more is needed.
Sounds easy right? Of course, it’s not. We get busy. We don’t have time for contemplation or energy to seek new ideas, two of the three essential ingredients. It’s easier to buy the ready-made wisdom, to let others tell us what to think, what to believe, how to live. It’s easier to go with conventional wisdom than to develop our own.
Like anything else, the simplest recipes are often the best, and the hardest.
Start with a simple quote for contemplation, like we do at the end of every yoga class. Let it sink in, see where it fits in your experience, how it might shift your perspective slightly. Journal or talk to someone else about it. Make it your own, file it away for future reference.
It’s a simple beginning, but with this step, you are developing your wisdom. You should be able to follow your own path from there.