People think that when they come to yoga class, or when they’re on my table, or when they’re doing the belly self-care videos, they should “get it” right away. They get frustrated when they don’t. And understandably so.
Most people like to feel that they understand that whatever they’re doing, that they’re doing it well. It sucks to put your hand on your belly and realize that you have no idea what to do next, that you have no idea how to make yourself feel better. It’s frustrating to look at your teacher or other students holding plank for a minute (or three) and realize you’re not going to make it through ten seconds. Our egos take a hit when these moments come along and for most people the first impulse is to give up, throw it in, kick themselves for being too scared, too weak, too whatever.
But guess what? That first impulse, that first self-abusing moment is actually the beginning of practice! If you’ve made it far enough to even have a reason to be frustrated, then you know you’re really starting to work.
So when that moment comes, when you feel that first tingle of despair and embarrassment then laugh! jump for joy! pat yourself on the back! tell yourself how awesome you are. It takes courage to learn new things, especially new things that can change your life, your body, your love of yourself and the world around you.
Practice is NOT about “getting it right,” practice is about practicing. (My students and clients hear this so often they’re probably rolling their eyes right now. But it’s true!) We show up to class, we watch videos, we try things out in order to practice, not to get them perfect. We show up to try things that might feel awkward, to try something over and over again until the next thing we need to work on shows up.
It’s supposed to be frustrating. You’re supposed to learn new things about yourself. You’re supposed to learn how to treat yourself well in the midst of frustration. I actually think this whole process is where joy comes from.
So the next time you’re trying something new and you notice that you’re frustrated, or embarrassed, or both . . . smile a wonderful smile and congratulate yourself because now you know you’re really practicing.
p.s. This is the article that inspired this post: http://yogainternational.com/article/view/embracing-awkward
- Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.
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1 thought on “What is Practice? It’s the Act of Learning.”
Great reminder! Thanks Isabel 🙂