In this Blog series on “practice with passion” we will aim to identify and describe the main aspects that help IMA practitioners stay disciplined and motivated for a lifelong practice.
Over the last 20 years of practice and coaching I have come across a common theme that I’m still trying to fully understand.
The question that always pops up is “What helps to maintain a consistent practice”?
Here I give you an insight into what I’ve learnt from my personal experience.
I have picked out 4 key points that I think are crucial.
In my early days of sports and physical training, (well at that age I wouldn’t have really known it to be “training” I thought of it more as playing as most young kids do). I would make sure I woke up well before school and catch the bus when it was still dark all just to have my hour playtime, every morning with my friends. Depending on the time of year the activity/sport would change, in the summer they would set up tennis nets in the playground and in Winter/Autumn it would be football. During lunch breaks we would play other games like tag or royal rumble (an activity where we playfully fight each other in a group similar to what was seen in WWF wrestling on TV). After school we would play some more or go out to skate parks and BMX or do other similar activities. We still use to be indoors a lot as weather was not always at its best but our time would usually be spent play fighting till we got told off then playing same games/activities we did outside on the PlayStation/Nintendo. Either way all I can remember was either practicing physically or practice visually through virtual play. We always wanted to have fun and at the same time developing skills.
Practice should be fun and enjoyable as kids we called it “PLAYING”
So something slowly changed and the idea of play became more and more distant in our minds as things started to become very goal orientated. Personally I eventually felt every activity must be driven by an end goal and that my effort and energy must be spent towards clear obtainable results, whether that’s fitness related, learning a trade or something like music production. This was a great time for lessons on visualisation and doing something painful to get to something pleasurable achieving things such as getting through exams, winning competitions and generally learning how to chase dreams effectively (this has been my primary approach in work and personal 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
These lessons being crucial to the development of a successful individual but what is the price for a completely goal orientated approach? Well as one goal was achieved there was an anti climax that usually followed and this lasted till the next goal or vision was set out and during this reflective time there would be no practice…. and so forth. Slowly the goals get bigger and harder to obtain and eventually I would run out of ideas and inspiration for something new to aim for leaving long periods of time feeling lost, searching and not practicing anything. So in recent years I have tried to embrace and experimented/researched the concept of PLAY. Nowadays I think of PLAY also as EXPLORING without a goal or a set out plan, just being and interacting based on your impulses and environment. This has helped me a great deal in my physical practice as I came to a point that I felt I had nothing to train for, slowly losing motivation and discipline. Doing the bare minimal just to maintain a good physique and simple health requirements, well not even that sometimes to be honest.
Playfully practice. Explore something new and express yourself freely without an objective outcome, set out plan or specific structure
What I have learnt is that at times goals and aspirations we have are based on expectations that may not be true to our heart and not fully coming from ourselves but more from society and its expectations of us. So when training purely by a goal orientated practice you may lose out on new findings and opportunity for creativity and spontaneity in the long run if you run out of expectations and fall stale or bored, at this stage play is recommended as the exploration may lead you to discover new desires, new ways of moving and new direction.
Have balance between fun exploration/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 with creativity and self-expression.
I invite others to try exploring freestyle movement and their body at least once a week for an hour or so.
Image Credits: Jonathan Borba