The Practicing Mind

The practicing mind is all about getting better via practice available here.

I read the practicing mind probably a year or two ago. I decided to re-read it just because. I learned so much the 2nd time around. I think… it’s just that I’m almost an entirely different person than I was two years ago… and I guess reading it a 2nd time gives you more time to learn I guess. Plus I experienced a lot of the things first hand.

Process not product - you really need to enjoy the process and not the product. If you don’t enjoy the practice… then you won’t get good. I think a lot of people want the gym body but don’t want to put in the work. They want the product but don’t enjoy the process so it doesn’t work out. On the other hand… most people who are really fit and healthy enjoy going to the gym. Going to the gym isn’t work. It’s fun and energizing. It’s all about the process and not the product.

Perspective affects feelings - that’s my own title of the chapter. You know how the way you look at things matter so much. How two people in the same circumstance can see things entirely differently. Like if you were fired… some people would be like life sucks blah blah blah. While others are like. It’s time for a new challenge and a new beginning or whatever. The thing is… if all you think of is that you aren’t pro in the beginning. You’re gonna feel sucky. I recently started learning how to shuffle. I can’t even hit the full speed of the dance doing basic moves and everyone around me is doing aerial spins and shit. Of course I’ll feel shitty if I compare myself to them. But now I know that it doesn’t matter that I’m not as good now. Since I know that with time and practice I’ll become just as good. It doesn’t matter what level I’m at now as long as I keep practicing I’ll eventually be able to do the shoryuken.

There’s this really good story of how… the author wrote down his 5 years goals for the piano. And he attained them all in 3 years. And yet.. he feels the same as before. Isn’t that crazy? It’s funny because I think I was in the exact same situation. Back in college when I was nearing graduation. I think my dream was to work at google, live by myself and make over 100k a year. I moved to SF when I graduated and got my own place. I attained my dreams and while I’m really appreciative of the hard work and luck that made my dream a reality… I don’t actually feel that different. My dreams just got bigger. Now I dream about living in Japan.

You gotta take things step by step. Life is just one big practice session. The example he uses is that you’re on a boat in the sea. You gotta keep paddling every day. But can’t really see or measure progress. Just know that each stroke and paddle takes you closer to where you wanna be. Of course… make sure you’re paddling in the right direction. The other example is… you shouldn’t be too focused on the goal. Imagine that you’re a swimmer and you’re swimming towards a tree on a far island. Is it better to just focus on each stroke and breath as you just paddle? No doubt. If all you do is stare at the tree while you swim… you’ll be annoyed by your progress and you’re making the process harder since you’re handicapping yourself. Focus on the swimming and don’t stare at the tree!

The four S. Simplicity. Simplify. Small. Slow. I think that’s what he uses to assist with thinking about practice. The passage that really made an impact on me was… doing things slow purposefully paradoxically makes you faster. It’s kind of mind blowing yet so true. Whenever I feel rushed and try to do things faster… I end up worried, distracted and make a ton of mistakes. When I force myself to slow down and do things as slow as possible… I actually end up doing things much faster. Personally examples are when I do the dishes or brush my teeth. Whenever I tell myself to slow down and do things deliberately…. I end up doing it faster.

Do. Observe. Correct. Equanimity. You shouldn’t judge your actions. Let’s say you’re practicing and you mess up in practice. It doesn’t matter that you messed up. It’s practice after all. The important thing is to follow the process of do, observe and correct. Do the practice action. See what you messed up and correct it. DOC applies to everything I feel. For everything people are skilled at… DOC is the default.

There was a part on time. As a child… time goes by slowly and as an adult time goes by faster. It’s weird… so weird that I’m experiencing it first hand. Days and weeks go by so fast now. I’m an old man. lol. Time slows down when you live in the present and focus on deliberate practice. Doing things slowly give you more time. It’s hella weird.

tl;dr - highly recommend this book. Use it to help you get better at life and everything in between. Get it here