I got really inspired to write an article about practice after listening to learning expert and brain coach Jim Kwik the other day. He was changing up the expression “practice makes perfect” to “practice makes progress”. How I loved hearing this. Perfect is an illusion, isn’t it? I believe there is always more to learn and hence always something to improve. Regarding my own yoga and meditation practice, I find that the more I learn the more I wonder what do I really know? Oh, the joy of learning and practising!
Some of you might know the following statement: That if you practise something for 10,000 hours you become an expert at it. When I read this several years ago the examples given were all about sports and music. Experts had found that 10,000 hours was the magic number of greatness to become a top table tennis player (yep, from the book “Bounce” by Matthew Syed) or one of the best pianists in the world.
Although most of us are neither a top sportsperson or top musician we all practise, every single day. Perhaps without knowing? Let’s go deeper into what we really practise, as it doesn’t only have to do with the exercise we are doing, the instrument we play, or the hobby we enjoy.
Practice is always happening, also within us. So now, how about checking thoughts or emotions that come up regularly? What are you repeating and practising every single day? As an example, and it could be anything, are you practising kindness, self-compassion and presence, or is your attention more on worrying, impatience and complaining – or perhaps a mix? Whatever you are practising you are getting better at. If you take a moment to become aware of what you are practising, maybe unknowingly till now, please don’t to be hard on yourself. No one is perfect 🙂 This is an exercise to increase your awareness and gain clarity of what is happening for you.
Once you become aware of what you practise you can decide whether this is something that benefits your life or something you want to let go of. To emphasise it again, no judgment is needed – this is so important! Give yourself space, and check with curiosity and kindness. We all have all human thoughts and emotions within and that’s what makes us human. You have just made yourself aware of what is happening and perhaps you didn’t know what you have been practising for a long time.
Practice makes progress. This is your time to change it up if you want. What thoughts, what emotions do you want to be really good at? You don’t have to announce it to anyone. Your awareness is all it takes to change things for yourself.
To conclude, here’s a top tip: Most spiritual teachers will say that if there is one practice they’d recommend you practise on a daily basis and which will greatly improve your life, it is the practice of gratitude. It does work. You are not stuck where you are or with your view of the world. Through neuroplasticity your brain has the ability to create new connections so you are not a victim. You don’t need to continue practising something that is not benefitting you. Nothing is permanent and change is okay. Why not try practising gratitude, even fake it if need be at the start, and see what happens next in your life?
Wishing you well, and keep the awareness going! X