Tuesday, September 25, 2012

100 Days of Practice: Day 13

One of my big ideas for this 100 Days of Practice project is awareness. I'm trying to observe, without judgement, my own reactions in day-to-day situations and interactions. And one thing I've observed is that I like to be very busy. I fill my days with work, house projects, and exercise. Even yoga is something crammed into the spaces, and always hot yoga. Intense. In the evening, more work, more exercise, and sometimes watching TV. I hardly ever just sit and breathe, or write. I'm always doing and planning. It's almost like I'm avoiding being with myself.

Thinking about this reminded me of something I read recently over on ejshea.com:

...I fall asleep every night with earbuds and an old episode of 30 Rock, but it also feels a bit, I don’t know, sad. Not pathetic-sad, more like frustrating-sad. Was it really so hard to be in my own head space, in the quiet of my own mind, for the duration it would or should take me to fall asleep?

I'm considering whether this need to be busy is similar to Erin's experience - do I really find it hard to be in my own head space?

As you may already have gleaned from the title of this post, today is Day 13 of my 100 Days of Practice. I haven't structured this project in any particular way, but it has occurred to me that effective practice is structured. When I played piano, I sat down to practice at about the same time each day. I spent roughly the same percentage of my practice drilling scales, learning new pieces, and polishing my current repertoire. When I trained for a marathon, I ran hills or did speedwork on Tuesdays, went for an easy short run on Thursdays, and spent Saturday mornings (and sometimes afternoons) adding miles.

In these first 13 days I've noticed two occasions at which I'm considerably less mindful: While I'm eating, and in the evening, when the day is winding down. Over the next few days I'm going to work on structuring my practice, focusing on these two situations.

First, I will practice paying attention to my food - to being mindful of what I'm eating, and how. To consider where my food comes from and how it is prepared. To notice how I feel while I'm eating, and to take my time, and let myself feel hungry sometimes, just enough to be sure that I'm eating because I'm hungry, and not because I'm happy or sad or bored or there's a really delicious cookie available. (OK, maybe sometimes that last one.)

Additionally, I will practice different ways of ending the day. I'm not sure yet what this looks like (good thing I'm still practicing!) and I'll try a few things - maybe a 10 minute meditation, or a short creative endeavour like writing a paragraph or drawing a picture. Regardless, pre-bedtime activities always include flossing, pillow fluffing, and lots of good night smooching.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Last week I decided to start a 100 day project.

100 days is a pretty common timeframe for these things - politicians often talk about the first 100 days in office, and I've heard senior managers at companies talking about their 100 day plans.

At first the point of this hundred day thing was kind of nebulous. I wanted to do something longer than a 21 day cleanse, but nothing so big as a life list or even a New Year's resolution. Something somewhere in between. But I wasn't sure what.

Until I woke up at 3:30 a.m., on the morning I'd planned to start the countdown. Insomnia definitely wasn't part of the plan, but it worked out: While one part of my brain was admonishing me to get back to sleep already, another part was busy working it out. I woke up a few hours later to find scrawled in the notebook on my bedside table: "100 days of practice."

We practice to reinforce what we know. To identify what we need to improve. To perform exercises to target improvements. Practice involves drills, doing things repeatedly and regularly, and learning to gracefully recover from mistakes.

Robert H. Schuller, via the inspirational fridge magnet, asks, "What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" For me, practice removes that fear of failure, because in practice, failures and imperfections are expected, and learned from.

So that's what I'm up to. 100 days of practice. 100 days of practicing awareness & authenticity, patience & compassion, gratitude, connection, solitude, getting things done, new techniques, fiscal awareness, responding, creativity & making things, fitness, organization & putting things away, moderation (in moderation), sexy times, commitment, and branding.

As part of my writing practice, I'll update here every 5 days or so. Stay tuned.

This particular 100 day notion was inspired by this video (via Ange at Sokoko Life, who is a total bastion of inspiration).