The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

One Who Practices

Philosophy practiced is the goal of learning. - Thoreau

At Weakness with a Twist, there was recently a post about living a "martial arts lifestyle" and what that might entail. The article may be read here.

I've also posted an excerpt some time ago, by the author Steven Pressfield on Developing a Practice.

What do you think? I’m interested in your comments.

It's not hard to practice. What isn't easy is becoming one who practices. I'm not thinking so much about a "professional" martial artist which is a whole other ball of wax, but more of a "lay practitioner" who is serious about his study but who is fully engaged in “everyday life.”

Budo is supposed to enhance your life, not replace it. Becoming a dojo nerd may allow you to accumulate a lot of time on the mat without the usual distractions of daily life most of us must handle, but what good is that? You'd still just be a dojo nerd.

I think we have the time and resources to do what we really want to do. Obstacles serve as a filter to help us distinguish between what we only think we want and what we really want.

I wrote about some changes I made so that I can practice every day without much chance of everyday life throwing a monkey wrench into my plans too often.

I don't know that just practicing a lot is enough to say that you truly have a practice. I think the next step is to let your practice shape you physically, mentally and psychologically. That's tough. You have to be willing to empty your cup to allow your practice to shape you.

The people I admire are not only good at something, they are good for something as well.


walt said...

You described ...a "lay practitioner" who is serious about his study but who is fully engaged in “everyday life.”

Yes, that was me, too; but a time arrived when the emphasis shifted, and not entirely without my own choosing. I opted to become "a lay practitioner who is serious about his practice(s)." But I mean, it was what I wanted to do and I had the opportunity. Remember, Thoreau was single and celibate, and preferred the company of nature most of the time; such folks are not common.

I mentioned to you previously the first lines from the Confucian Analects: "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application?" If that seems correct, then really engaging with one's practice is a case of pursuing pleasure. Or, say, "deep satisfaction." Or, _________, (insert your words there). In other words, something that attracts, beckons, draws you forward.

I've spent a lot of my life wrasslin' with my own "resistance" to things: hesitation, reticence, reluctance, over-thinking, making things complicated. I get the distinct impression that masters of the arts I practice are absent such qualities. I notice that, to the extent that I practice and practice well, life seems smoother, quieter, easier. I like that, so I keep after it.

Rick said...

"I notice that, to the extent that I practice and practice well, life seems smoother, quieter, easier."

Same here.

Paul said...

I'm a simple man, and a martial artist at heart, for me, it means I am to face life's challenges head on without pretensions, sometimes it would mean "having the courage to walk away (or saying no), without feeling guilty about it"....:):)

PS: A dojo nerd is sometimes just another sportsman

Rick said...

I practice. I try to let the practice shape me. I think about what I'm doing and why.

The dojo nerds I'm referring to were the ones who seemingly lived at the dojo talking about budo, and whose "outside" lives were train wrecks; largely of their own making.

fitnessat50 said...

One of the things I like most about Aikido is the ability to apply its lessons to other areas of life. Kushida-sensei even encouraged us to do this. Perhaps that, as much as time spent on the mat, is what differentiates a true 'practitioner' from someone who just trains.

That said, I'm not sure one way is better than the other, just different. As my instructor has said, if all you want to do is come to class and train, that's fine. You won't grow as much as those who practice and study outside of class, but that is your choice.

Rick said...

Good points!