Competence and Consciousness

Noel Burch developed a model called the four stages of consciousness

This model is used to explain how we learn a new skill.  According to the model we learn new skills and pass through these stages.  (Note:  We can use the term skill or competence below)

Stage 1  Unconsciouness incompetence – we don’t know that we don’t have a skill or even that we need to learn it.

Stage 2   Conscious incompetence – we are aware that we don’t have a skill and are bad at it.
Stage 3  Conscious competence – we know that we have a skill
Stage 4  Unconscious competence – we have a skill and we can do it without thinking.


You might be able to relate to  this model by how you started developing your yoga or meditation practice.  We all start by not even knowing that we need to do yoga or meditation.  We may then realize that we should do it but cannot.  Perhaps we go to a yoga studio and  started our journey feeling pretty badly about our abilities!  We kept at it and then, at least for a few  poses or perhaps a few moments, seem to magically be able to ‘get’ a yoga pose, flow, or still the mind.

But, is there something beyond this? Is there something beyond just developing the ability to do yoga in your sleep?   If you are going through the motions, yes you are doing the poses, or sitting on the meditation cushion and  yes,  you are meditating  but you may not be doing it mindfully.  We need to bring a focus and attention to our practice and what we are doing even if the physical body becomes very good at it.

In our meditation we start just by sitting, then, over time, as we become more comfortable, the mind stills, we bring a focus –  perhaps to the breath.  We learn to stay with the breath and watch with single pointedness.  Perhaps, for just a moment, perhaps for many moments.  We stay alert, not drifting, dozing, or following one thought to another until the bell rings and our time is up.

So the next time you are on your yoga mat and find yourself going from one pose to another, see if you can focus your attention on the action.  Bring mindfulness into your practice – then bring it to the rest of your life and whatever you are doing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s