Friday, January 20, 2012

Practice Makes Practice (or How the Wisdom of Yoga Applies to Life)


Many people view doing yoga as just another form of exercise, like aerobics or Pilates or Zumba class. But the true purpose of practicing yoga poses is to help us develop focus, to become more centered in ourselves, more mindful of our actions and words, more observant and accepting of ourselves and others and more able to deal peacefully with the constant chatter of the world and the constant chatter in our own minds. We practice physical yoga "on the mat" so that we can take the spirit of yoga into our daily lives, "off the mat."

So, here is a bit of yogic wisdom that I think applies just as well to writing or any other kind of creativity as to doing yoga poses. In fact, it applies to pretty much every aspect of our lives:

"PRACTICE MAKES PRACTICE."

It's human nature to practice things with the hope of "mastering them." Yoga students are no exception - we secretly hope to eventually be able to do the perfect triangle pose or backbend. But mastery or perfection are not real things, because they are both relative and fleeting. We might find ourselves doing a lovely pose, the best we have ever done. But it will never be perfect, and it will not last longer than the five or ten breaths for which we can hold it.

As a writer, I know that the more I write, the better my writing will be. I may have moments when the writing flows and is beautiful and free and uninhibited. I might even come up with what feels to me like a perfect turn of phrase. But my idea of perfection is relative, because yours is most likely different.

So there is no "mastery" or "practice making perfect" in writing, or painting or any other creative endeavor. Neither is there any mastery of life - no amount of practice will enable us to perfectly handle all people and situations with our perfect words and actions. There is only the yoga of life: practice makes practice. You see?

Okay, I have to go practice writing now ...

22 comments:

  1. Nice post DW. As you know I paint most every day and have been doing so for almost 18 years now. There is not a day that goes by that I do not learn something from my pratice - if this did not happen - I would be disappointed as that to me is the definition of practice. So I guess the old saying of practice makes perfect really means practice makes pracitce.

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  2. The more we practice the more we feel the need to practice. It's the truth.

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  3. Thanks RVP xo

    Hi MBJ/Delores - it really is. Such a simple twist on the usual saying, that changes how we look at things.

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  4. 20 seconds of courage! sandie

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  5. Aaaah, Melissa. I needed this one today. Thank you! I need to get back to doing my yoga too. ;-)

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  6. Very good observation. I practice tai chi...it never occurred to me that it was the same as practicing my piano, or rug hooking or knitting. I looked at it as meditation (and exercise) and the others as more doing. I like your viewpoint and I'll be more mindful of the other things that I 'do' now. Thanks.

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  7. Something along the lines of the more we know, the more we know we don't know. I love the concept of eternal learning. Great post.

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  8. Much truth here. Have a great weekend! :)

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  9. Sandie- that's all you need!

    Tracy Jo - just do one pose today to remind you how it feels ... small steps

    Stephanie - yes, our "real" yoga is what we do in life. my yoga is writing. but it's really in everything we do, whatever it is, that desire to do the best we can, but not be overly attached to how things come out.Or something. i said that like I know stuff, but I'm just figuring it out like everyone else! :-)

    Tasha - yes - that is SO true.

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  10. Hi Melissa,
    That's good advice for anybody and any passion.
    This week I attended a seminar where one of the presenters did a Yoga demonstration, immediately following a Zumba demo. The Yoga was very relaxing and calming.
    Donna

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  11. Hi Donna - there are also lots of workshop that combine yoga and writing - or art - because there is an understanding that the yoga practice can open up the doors to our creativity. Relaxing and calming are part of that.

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  12. New Review up

    http://www.alwaysreading.net/2012/01/review-christmas-village-by-melissa-ann.html

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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  13. Melissa, I love this post because it is so true. Practice makes practice - there is no perfection. I have to remember this in my writing and my singing. When singing live, anything can happen. There is no perfect.
    Karen

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  14. Thanks for visiting my blog
    So true Practice makes perfect.
    I just try to jot down things as they come to me . So there is No time for editing .lol

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  15. Lainy - thank you so much for the wonderful review - I'm so please you liked it!

    Karen - my favorite singers are the ones whose voices are a little imperfect - like James Taylor or Carol King.

    A Lady's Life - I know what you mean!

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  16. I have been appalled at how ignorant I am about so many things. However, my ignorance gives me more scope for learning and exploring - both of which are valuable to me.

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  17. Thank you for those wise words! It's all about the journey isn't it? The most interesting and beautiful things have quirks and imperfections. I think, as writers, we practice not for perfection, but to find our voice. As artists, our style. As humans, our humanity. You've encouraged me to get back into yoga!

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  18. Hi Elephant's child - it's true, the less we know "for sure", the more opportunity we have to learn!!

    Debora - that's right, and so beautifully put - to find our voice, yes!

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  19. I've been reading a bit of Buddhist philosophy lately, and this sort of thing really speaks to me. I can tend towards perfectionism but in my writing, if I can make a few people happy for a few hours, then that's enough to say I've succeeded.

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  20. Rachel, I'm the same with my writing. I will definitely work to "perfect" it, but of course, it's always just practice! Your goal is just right, I think and it's one that I share.

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  21. For years I've been telling my music students, and myself, that practice makes progress. I like your practice makes practice as well. So many struggle with perfectionism and it's interesting how simply changing one word can refresh, reduce stress, and put the 'wind back in your sails'.
    Thanks for the post.

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