Practice makes perfect
I haven’t written much over the last few weeks for number of reasons, work, Christmas and the general lack of time. However, it has enabled me to do something that I have come to realise I am not very good at. Practice.
Ever since I was a child I have been very good at thinking actions but not actually doing them. Many a good scheme has been conjured up in my mind but very few have actually made the light of day. I have always struggled to take the next step from idea to action and as a result I have potentially missed out on a great many opportunities. As I became more anxious over the years and self-doubt crept in the more opportunities seemed to fall through my fingers like empty husk’s. Seedless shells, empty of energy and devoid of possibility.
Fast forward to now and through working with mindfulness and practising meditation I have come to realise that practice does indeed lead to perfection. However, I’d like to make a disclaimer at this point. Perfection is not an ideal state to achieve, but a way of being to experience. Perfection is a connection to your truest nature, to the core of who you are, untainted by judgement and free of the layering of years of incorrect self-talk.
Like any muscle, it is at its peak performance when it has been exercised and nurtured. Mindfulness requires training and the remedial treatment of our ‘view of self’ in order to maximise its fullest potential. Meditation also requires a degree of training as the mind and the body have over many years being part of a different training program and as such we need to relearn. Both the muscle memory and the cognitive memory require re-training and reprogramming and to achieve this the mind needs to be focused and exercised in accordance to a new paradigm. This whole process requires resilience, dedication, commitment and perhaps most crucially practice. In order to achieve our truest potential, we need to develop a sense of our own true nature and be prepared to dig and toil in order to achieve this.
If we are prepared to settle for second best and to accept the lowest form of who we can be, then practice may as well be set aside. It’s not needed. However, if we want to be the best we can be we need to sweat and toil in order to find out what our own true nature is and how it can best serve us. This requires resilience, dedication and commitment in the form of a regular (daily) practice.
Since I was a child I have always been complacent in my approach to things. I was a reasonably talented secondary school athlete and I played an instrument reasonably well (even formed a band and did quite a few gigs). However, I did fail to make the most of these opportunities because of practice. Practice was something that was an unnecessary aspect of doing something, and as a result I perhaps didn’t reach my full potential because I didn’t see its value. On top of that through a lack of appreciating the value of practice, I perhaps became “injured“ emotionally and physically which has ultimately led to where I find myself today.
Practice, I have come to realise, is more than just the boring repetition of an action and it has a positive outcome to the end result, something than purely relying upon raw talent cannot deliver. Practice is the opportunity to hone a skill and whilst there will always be an increase in potential failure there is also increased chance of success. Practice increases the opportunity of both success and failure and the resulting side effect of this is that it also helps us develop inner resilience. Any practice for me always seemed to invoke fear and maybe because of the increased chance of failure I walked away. I have learnt however that practice may not lead to a perfect outcome but what it will do is lead me to deeper sense of reality, and as a result a lasting sense of who I truly am.
Practice is the chance to test and re-test what I experience and what ‘mental formations’ I have, and as such it is invaluable to growth and well-being. What I believe to be true and what is “actually“ true may well be very different things and through the practice of mindfulness and meditation I am able to see through the layers of past history and see what is at the very core of me, namely my own true nature.
Don’t get caught in the cycle of rejecting ‘doing’. It is only through testing and re-testing the “truth” of things will you really come to see what is going on and then and only then will you be able to make the next step with confidence. Practice is your chance to “dry run” things, to practice being present for life and it is a great place to step out of fear and move forwards through life with greater confidence.