Sometimes You Have To Practice Not To Practice

The ideas of practice and discipline are 2 of the most misunderstood ideas we have. How many people have a feeling of dread just reading and thinking about those 2 words? There is such a negative connotation to the idea of both practice and discipline, like they are some sort of punishment one must perform.

“I must have discipline. I must do my practice. I must because I have to.”
Photo © Cynvision Photography

First, let's look at these 2 words and the meaning behind them:

Practice means to “perform an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve one's proficiency.” While discipline often means punishment of some sort, as in being forced to do something, one root of the word is disciple, as in being a student, coming from the  Latin disciplina, meaning “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.” Thus we need to understand both practice and discipline as a desire to learn, a desire for knowledge, a desire for improvement.

Part of our problem is that we often take things so seriously! No wonder we dread devoting any time to our practice, because it's not fun at all. I can think of many times when I have resisted taking the time to sit and write, or to play music, or practice Yoga, or any of the things I do in life. There's this initial resistance of, “I just don't have the time to do this,” or, “I just don't want to take the time to do this,” Once I get past my resistance and actually start whatever activity I'm doing, there's often this sense of, “Why didn't I do this sooner?” And by taking the time, I'm often so absorbed by what I'm doing that the idea of time itself is suspended, so as not to really matter anymore. “Why would I not want to be doing this?”

This idea of devotion to our practice should be one filled with wonder and curiosity. Please click on the link below for a wonderful essay on the meaning of the Practice:

Spiritual practice ought to be childish. It ought to help us recapture something that gets lost in the process of growing up. It ought to foster a sense of play, a sense of magic, a sense of humor.
—Norman Fischer, “Saved From Freezing

Remember back to when you were a child. Remember how you felt when you discovered a new bug, a new leaf, or anything new around you that caught your interest. This is the spirit that we are looking for. Approach your practice like a child full of curiosity, and it will reveal the wonder of the Universe before you.

~ MB




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