Over the course of my time here in this life, I have always managed to become marginally better at what I have practiced. Without a doubt.
I loved playing guitar and spent a few hours a week playing and practicing to learn some of the songs that I liked, mostly so I could impress girls. I got to a point where I thought I was actually pretty good. And yes maybe I even was able to bring a smile to the face of a girl or two.
But I remember the day I met my music idol and mentor. Michael Sinclair. An relatively unknown legend amongst the world of Popular music, yet his talents and skills are undeniable.
I watched him pick up instrument after instrument, from Bass guitar to Drums and mandolin, and each time he played better than anyone I have ever seen who specializes in that instrument. He was so modest and would always say, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, I’m a hack really!” I remember the feeling inside of me that screamed, “Wow I really suck at guitar.”
Now don’t take me wrong, I play okay, and have toured the world as a successful musician for 10 years. But the truth is that when I was playing a few hours a week on one instrument, Mike had spent EVERY waking hour since he could walk practicing on all these instruments, and when he would master one, he would move onto the next.
He spent ALL his time practicing, and the results speak for himself. No doubt there is some natural talent in there, but we all have the ability to procure a great level of skill with a great amount of practice and energy.
Like most people, I had gotten really good at being a product of my mind and ever-racing thoughts. I had practiced reacting to things and getting upset at things and losing my cool and feeling stressed my whole life.
So naturally now I look back at it, its no secret that I had become a master at it. Now I practice a different way. Of finding an observation on my experience while its happening, and using the part of my brain that doesn’t initially react in the fight or flight manner, but actually can make an educated decision on whether I am in danger or not, and go from there.
The idea of mindfulness is actually a simple idea. Be in your body and be in this present moment, and you will find a peace and stillness. The practice of mindfulness is the hard part, especially when we have practiced the opposite for most of our lives. The good thing is, although we have few freedoms, the most amazing one is that we are free to CHOOSE how we act, think, and react. IN every moment.
So I’m choosing to practice this, and although nowhere near perfect, I’m getting better at it. And the better I get at it, the less I want to know what perfect feels like, or who “They” are who coined the phrase.