Knowledge vs. Experience

I was in a sound bath recently, and the person leading us through the breathing at the beginning said something that really landed with me: “Sometimes in life there are going to be things that you cannot explain; you just have to experience them.” For example, you can have all the knowledge in the world about sound baths, but you have to experience one to be able to understand it. I thought about this later, and I realized why I was intrigued by the way she explained the process and why the breathing was important, as well as all the other details she mentioned before we began. However, not until I lay on my mat and covered my eyes and had the experience did I understand what she meant.

My daughter and I did the sound bath at a place called Integratron, located in the High Desert of California. The day we went it was just the two of us in a beautiful domed chamber. I have done sound baths before, and when this healer gave me some knowledge and background about sound baths, it became even more clear how amazing they are.

In life, sometimes we do not need a lot of the knowledge to try something. Most of my education has been from life experience: traveling, living in different countries, and taking classes online on subjects I am interested in. I barely graduated from high school but not because I was not smart. I was completely bored, and everything I was being taught felt outdated, even in the late ’70s and early ’80s. For example, when I was in high school, the boys took wood shop and the girls took home education. It seems very funny to me now.

I was bored, and my gut knew that I was going to do outrageous things and take risks and that nothing I was learning in school was going to get me there. However, when I wanted to be on the songleader team in junior college, I had to get my grades up and prove that I could keep an acceptable grade point average to be on the squad. I made the dean’s list that year because I had a goal: I wanted to dance and perform!

I got more educated when I auditioned, traveled, worked in foreign countries, modeled in Los Angeles, figured out how to live on a budget, lived with roommates, and went through a lot of rejection. Then I got a massive education by becoming a mom. I read many books when I was pregnant because I wanted to have a healthy mind and body. I did not want to get too huge and have back problems, so I did everything to educate myself on how to be healthy while pregnant, took supplements, got chiropractic adjustments, did a lot of walking, had healers work on me, and read everything I could get my hands on. When I started having babies in 1993, the self-care I was doing made the people around me very uncomfortable. Today, many woman who have babies are taking the same steps I did as a mom. This makes me so happy!

I will take life experience over knowledge any day. This is my preference. If I need advice, I usually go to people who have the experience in whatever I am asking about. I want every detail of what they experienced, not their knowledge. Do not get me wrong; I am highly attracted to wickedly smart people. What do they all have in common? Experience!

Let me give you an example of knowledge. I recently signed up for a 90-minute breathwork class. For the first 45 minutes, the instructor gave a dissertation on the physical attributes of breathwork and the proper way to breathe. Here is what went through my head: “I signed up for the wrong class.” I cannot tell you how bored I was. I have no interest in the knowledge of a breathwork class. I was there for the experience. (If I wanted to become a breathwork teacher, this class would have been perfect!) I did learn a few things that I will incorporate into my morning routine. Unfortunately, most of what the instructor said went in one ear and out the other.

I would have loved to know more about his experience—why he got into breathwork and where he studied to become a breathworker. Those questions are fascinating. I would normally guide the conversation in that direction, but he was so into his knowledge and seemed to want to impress me with what he knew that it was not fun! Know your audience.

When I was blessed by becoming a mom, I remember seeking help from mothers I admired who were like-minded. We formed a bond and talked about our experiences and what worked and what didn’t. A lot of times women who were not moms tried to give me advice; they had dogs and for some reason they thought this was similar. It is not! I had two dogs before I had my first baby, and those experiences were in no way alike.

The question is, whom do you feel more comfortable going to for advice, answers, or learning? Someone with experience or someone with knowledge? This is a great topic to journal about. Think about how many times we have paid people for advice but they have never experienced what we are going through.

A great scene in the movie Baby Boom highlights the difference between experience and knowledge. After J. C. (Diane Keaton) faints and wakes up in a doctor’s office, she starts telling Dr. Cooper (Sam Shepard) about the drama in her life. Then she hears and sees an animal and realizes the doctor is a vet! Here is why that scene is so funny. The doctor could relate to J. C’s experience, so he let her vent. However, she wanted someone with knowledge—an MD. I have seen that movie several times. It has many great lessons, but that scene always stood out to me because of Dr. Cooper’s response.

When I was acting and modeling, I would rely solely on experience, which is very hard to do for a creative. My mind wants to make sense of everything, and sometimes all I have is a feeling that cannot be explained in words. I enjoy the moments today when I cannot explain something but there is a knowing—like when I take a shot of chlorophyll. It might sound funny, but my body knows the shot is filled with beautiful antioxidants. If someone says, “You know, there are no benefits from that,” I just smile at their knowledge!

Do not get me wrong. Both knowledge and experience are important, but it is good sometimes to contemplate such things and see if you are aligned, if your gut agrees.

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Deborah Driggs

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