Practice

Everyday you practice. Whether you mean to or not.

You have rituals. You have that specific way you like to prepare your toothbrush when you brush your teeth (water first, THEN toothpaste... then more water!) The way you construct your sandwich. The order you eat your food (veggies first?).

You may not even notice that you practice this until something stops you.

I doubt it's possible to be conscious of all your habits. But it's valuable to practice some of them consciously. Through practice, you can make your habits better.

And if you make your habits better, you have made yourself better.

This post was inspired by something my friend Tom wrote on Instagram with these pictures of us training together. Please, go read it.

Every day we're practising. Whether consciously or not, we are, in each moment, practising certain modes of seeing, moving, thinking, even metabolising - ways of playing with your keys in your pocket, of eating your lunch (meat first or veg first?), of responding affectively to advertisements for fast food (feeling hunger or perhaps visceral resentment), morning rituals, evening rituals, how you greet the people you love, etc etc. Habits are cultivated as the same neural pathways get fortified with every repetition. Conscious practice - physical, cognitive, social - is the mechanism for forging new neural pathways, intentionally harnessing our plasticity and guiding it in a direction deemed 'better'. It's how we bear out our hidden potential. For the human being, reality is potential all the way down (what other creature conceptualises the present in terms of the future like us?), making the discovery and realisation of potentialities - ideally oriented toward the Good - a necessary, meaningful, human-all-too-human project. The change brought about by specifically PHYSICAL practice takes place at a biological level - the animal level - affecting our instincts, needs, perceptive apparatus, behavioural patterns. With physical practice, we "reach into the depth dimension of the organism itself" (H Marcuse) and take our nature, our second nature, as the object of our attention and intention. Through such practice, we are able to transform how we experience ourselves and, therefore, how we experience the world (for as Anaïs Nin puts it: "We don't see the world as IT is; we see it as WE are"). We better the world by bettering ourselves - an appropriately humble approach.