Today I read a beautiful post by my artist friend, Kerin Rose, on resiliency.
It’s just what I needed to hear today. I’ve been feeling mopey and wobbly for quite awhile now. Jon says I’m even waking up grumpy from naps. What a waste of a good nap!
I’ve tried to figure out why, but end up in useless mind swirls. Waves of anxiety, bouts self-judgment, exasperation with others (and not knowing how to manage that).
Kerin’s words remind me of what determines how we move forward, and how we get stuck.
Resiliency. (The ability to bounce back.)
I’d add to the list….
Grit. (The belief that we can get through it.)
Vulnerability. (The realization that we are not perfect, and never will be.)
And practice. (Wha……??!!)
Let me explain that last one, because it’s way more subtle than you might think.
Whenever we take up a new skill–piano playing, martial arts, writing–we’re told to practice, practice, practice.
We’re even supposed to “practice” yoga. And meditation. Enlightenment, like everything else that requires skill, takes that proverbial 10,000 hours of practice.
But let’s face it. Most practice is b*o*r*i*n*g. Repetitious. Monotonous. Right?
And many nay-sayers say it depends on what you practice, and how. After all, if you practice an error, you get really, really good at that error.
So what’s the use of practicing?
It’s not what you think.
For example, most Westerners probably think that we should practice meditation because we can empty our brain, and achieve enlightenment. Since most of us may not want empty brains, we think time spent meditating is not time well-spent.
But it turns out meditating–or rather, even trying to meditate—has its own rewards. Even a few minutes a day helps our brain focus better. Being able to recognize a thought, acknowledge it, evaluating it, helps us manage our emotional states better. Our “enlightenment” is actually the realization that much of what we have the luxury of creating in our lives, comes from our emotions and thoughts and perceptions about how the world works. We have the ability to change that for the better. Practice makes it so.
In fact, the value of our practice may be greater than the actual goal we practice for.
I found this in martial arts. Yes, the practice of Tae Kwon Do resulted in me attaining a certain quality of form (for a few years, anyway!) But the real gift was realizing I could get very good at something, even if I didn’t really have a knack or a gift for it. I just loved it. And loving it kept me practicing.
Practicing got me skills, but it also taught me to have more confidence, and trust, in my process and in myself.
(This is why I tell people not to beat themselves up for not “doing it right”, whatever THAT is. Whatever works for you is the right way to do it.)
That’s why we feel better when we actually work our craft. Whether we make art, play an instrument, work in our gardens, sing, dance, whatever our creative thing is, practicing it makes us feel engaged, and more ourselves.
In fact, one of my practices is writing. Lately, I’m encouraging myself to write as soon as an idea hits. This post is a result of that practice. (And guess what? It’s working! I feel better!)
In short, practice is what gives us resiliency and grit.
Practice is what allows us to be vulnerable. Allows us to connect. Encourages us to be open to something new.
Practice may not make perfect.
But practice is what makes us better. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Now go make something today!