I learned two related attitudes for learning early in my studies of the martial arts. These attitudes are prevalent in Asian thought and are very useful for massage students to consider.
The Mind of the Beginner
The first is the idea that we should maintain the mind of the beginner. Recall that the beginner is curious and inquisitive. The beginner is intensely interested and asks sincere questions. Take, for example, a small child who asks, "What is that? How does it work? What does it do?"
As we grow into adults, we think we understand the world around us. Unfortunately, this understanding leads us to close our minds to new ideas. The moment we think we understand something, we lose our childlike quality of the mind of a beginner. The key for you as a massage student is to not let this happen. Keep your mind open and receptive to learning. Strive in your studies to keep the mind of the beginner.
Empty Your Cup
A second and related concept is the importance of learning to empty your "cup."
The parable that illustrates this concept is that there was once a learned man who went to a Zen master seeking more knowledge. The Zen master thought the man had come to learn from him, but soon learned the truth. The learned man from the onset began to boast about his own knowledge and how much he thought he already knew. In the middle of the conversation, the Zen master stood up, walked to the stove, and took in his hand the handle of a teapot that was full of hot water. He began to pour hot water into the learned man's cup until it overflowed.
The man cried out, "Watch out, you are overfilling my cup. It is too full and cannot hold anymore.".
"And so it is with your mind," answered the Zen master. "Until you empty your cup, I cannot teach you anymore."
Both of these concepts are important for massage students to remember. Strive to keep the mind of the beginner and empty your cup so your teachers can teach you something new.