In this Blog series on “practice with passion” we will aim to identify and describe the main aspects that help IMA participants & warriors stay disciplined and motivated for a lifelong practice.
In 20 years of practice and coaching there’s one common theme I’m still trying to understand.
The question that always pops up is “How can I maintain a consistent practice”?
My early days of sports and physical training were really playing, as it is for most young kids. I woke up well before school and caught the bus when it was still dark just to have an hour of playtime every morning with my friends. Depending on the time of year the activity/sport would change. In the summer we’d have tennis nets set up in the playground and in winter it would be football. During lunch breaks we would play games like tag or royal rumble (play fighting in a group similar to WWF wrestling on TV). After school we played again or went out to skate parks and rode BMX bikes. We used to be indoors a lot too, considering British weather, but on those days we play fought until we got told off and then we would play virtually on video games. All I can remember is that we either practiced physically or virtually and always through play. It was fun and we developed skills along the way.
There are several crucial aspects to make this real in our adult lives:
Practice should be fun for adults, just like playing is for children
Something changed as we grew older. The idea of play became distant to us. At the same time things became very goal-orientated. I put pressure on myself to make activities driven by an end goal and I thought my effort and energy had to go into clear, obtainable results. It was a great time to learn about visualisation and how to do something hard to get results. It meant we could achieve things like pass exams, win competitions and learn how to achieve dreams. This has become my approach to work and life ever since
Motivate yourself by using dreams and vision of pleasure that may come from achievement of something. Set out a realistic action plan to get there
Goals are crucial to success but what is the price of a goal-orientated approach? I found that each achievement resulted in an anti climax and that lasted until the next goal or vision was set out and during this reflective time my practice would become inconsistant… and so on. Slowly the goals got bigger and harder to obtain and eventually I ran out of ideas and inspiration. So in recent years I have experimented with the concept of play. Now I think of play also as exploring; just being and interacting based on my impulses and environment. This has helped me a great deal in my physical practice; I’m much more motivated and disciplined.
Playfully practice. Explore something new and express yourself freely without an objective, plan or structure.
I’ve learned that sometimes our goals and aspirations are based on expectations that may not be true to our hearts but come from society and its expectations of us. So when training is purely goal orientated you may miss out on finding creative options and whats true to your heart. In the long run if you get bored of your practice, play is a great idea to lead you to discover new interests and ways of moving.
Achieve balance between play and a goal orientated practice
I spend one session a week just playing and doing whatever my body feels like, jump up and down all over place, shadow box a variety of forms or just dance around. This helps me be creative and understand self-expression.
Try exploring freestyle movement and your body without a plan or objective goal at least once a week for an hour or so. See what happens!