Practice is the heartbeat to success.
Continual practice is the cornerstone of any skill. Going through the repetitions of action reward you with an automation in action.
My question to you is this…
How many times does an action need to be repeated until it is internalized? How long does it take to make something your own so you can refine it?
The answer is not that long.
Although practice is the best way to build ability, the quality and success rate of practice vary, depending. This variance is an effect of how deeply engaged someone is with something. The less engaged somebody is with an action, the less likely they retain and understand. Whether they have trained themselves to focus for periods of time or learn to keep a tempo of active engagement, individuals with a capacity for active engagement always get more done.
The importance of engagement can not be expressed enough. With it being one of the keys to a high success rate, it’s no wonder that it is stressed in different education psychology books. We can look at it like this… A student that spent 100 hours practicing engaged only 30% of the time is matched by a student that spent 50 hours with twice the engagement! The second student will be able to easily out perform the first student in less than 2 hours more of practice.
Here’s a little remembered fact about our brain that most of us know, but fail to prevent.
When the brain goes through an action enough to have the response automatic, we gain an unconscious competence and switch to autopilot. Although unconscious competence is a positive, the dangers are very often overlooked. Autopilot if left unchecked can cause complacency and even regression. This is because the brain wants your body to remain in homeostasis or it’s baseline of activity. Whenever the brain sees an opportunity to save energy, it takes it. If we become mindful and take time to do some maintenance on a skill, autopilot will be friend more than foe.
How can we maintain engagement ?
In all cases, dilating your perception will ground you in the present moment for engagement in whatever you’re doing. A focus on broadening the acuity of your senses will trouble shoot your mind going into autopilot or straying off topic.
Imagine that you are a soldier in the trench behind enemy lines. Would you be caught up in your head wondering what the next episode of ‘Law and Order’ is going to be on? I highly doubt it. You’re brain will know what could happen and cause your senses to be almost hyper aware. Every brushing of a tree, every slight movement in the horizon, and every beat of your heart would be felt. This is a very extreme case of perception dilation, but I hope you’re beginning to get an idea.
Achieving perception dilation is possible through sensory orientation. This simply means to orient your focus on the senses. Enrich them by taking conscious control of what you are objectively perceiving outside of your body. This is also a mild form of meditation.
Trust that your self will know what the right action is.
Although I am emphasizing to trust in your faculties and not actively ‘think’ about what you are doing, it does not dismiss you from active thinking. Thought is going to creep in at any rate. It’s only natural that we guide it through strategy. This is where foe can be friend with going into autopilot. We can ‘shift gears’ in an automated practice and let it ‘run at a different speed’. Much like Lebron James dribbles while running at intense speeds.
Go deeper into engagement of an activity by diverting focus. Ask yourself questions about the input. Find prior knowledge stored in your mind that can relate. Randomly express yourself.
Let’s put this in an example. We’ll say that you’re in a conversation with someone of the opposite sex that you’re attracted to. Becoming engaged and present to the moment is the best way to provide the best experience for the both of you. By dilating your perception and selectively broadening what stimuli your senses take in, you can focus more on what the other person is saying. Their words will become much more clear and rich to you. You could read the subtleties of their facial expression. You’ll be completely immersed in the interaction and the rest of the world may seem to melt away. Being present in the moment may require a lot of focus, but it is the best way make a connection with someone and leave that voice in your head behind.
Now what if that voice does come up? To keep up the momentum of being present, it’s best to avoid getting caught up in a dialogue with it. Accept that it’s telling you whatever. Acknowledge it and maybe even use it to add fuel to your conversation. Being consciously in the present moment , or even just being engaged in anything does, at times, require focus. This is especially so when we find an activity that doesn’t really stimulate us.
If we do something that isn’t particularly pleasing or naturally engaging, then we can very easily fall into autopilot mode. When this happens focus and engagement become an active process. No longer will you feel the natural victory of passive engagement. Focus as an active process tests your will in ways you never thought you could imagine.
When you begin to test your brain with focus, your brain can test back.
Some of you may already know what I’m talking about…
Students sitting in a classroom. Their ‘teacher’ droning on in a monotonous manner.
” A conjugation of verbs defines what tense the verb is acting upon.”
There may be some kids that want to “learn” this information, but can’t do so because they aren’t engaged. Their brains would be delivered messages of safety and boredom. Nothing stimulating comes from a dull environment, it’s a natural thing for kids to provoke some sort of vitality in life themselves.
What about the child that remembers the value in education? How do they cope?
Our brains rarely ever want to leave homeostasis. When we have ‘a good thing going’ it’s a biological reflex to disengage from our environment because a lack of pressure on us. We can be left to our own devices while meeting the minimal needs of the environment.
For the average citizen, focus takes some measurement of energy. The thought of putting focus into action causes a natural resistance within the body. Because the brain is telling the body that it’s in homeostasis, it will try to convince the mind the same thing and to resist the notion exerting any more energy. The impulse to resist an urge may prevail.
PRACTICE NON-RESISTANCE THROUGH EFFORT AND
When the body resists because our brain has become too evolved, a complex form of complacency has wrenched it’s vice upon the beings that can’t fight the VIRUSES the mainstream has fed them. It’s not their fault that humanity as a race currently evolves faster than their capability. The average attention span of a student 18-22 years of age is about 25 minutes, give or take 5. This is at least in my experience. The only variation in time would be on the possibility that they are being stimulated artificially. If their instructors provide a very engaging presentation of content, their ability to influence the student’s attention span could prevail.
Students can practice organically through using ‘stimulation techniques’. This could be through growing focus through engaged practice or using perspective to create a deeper connection. Having multiple strategies of non-resistance and understanding obstacles can enhance your success rate.
Unless we have a track record of retaining prolonged focus, we will most likely fail. When life brings resistance to that which matters, find alternate ways to focus on what matters through diversions of the brain.
When the environment gives us grief, most of the time we give it grief back. It’s a biology thing. Because modernized 1st world countries have mostly evolved beyond random violence and complete destruction, our bodies have stopped evolving as much as our brain. Stimulation isn’t what it used to be. We get to enjoy the dramas of society, command information, and to grow ourselves.
In skill acquisition…
We can use different Stimulation Techniques to peak our focus, engage the depths of our senses, and move past obstacles without resisting.
Actualization occurs through the enlighten behavior we have obtained through overcoming obstacles rather than resisting obstacles.
Pursue experience and add depths to your practice through applications of focus by overcoming the obstacles that cause your body to resist focus.
Use non-resistance to overcome mental and emotional obstacles.
Build focus and engagement through mindfulness and sensory orientation to overcome physical obstacles.
I’ll give you a really quick what if scenario and then move in to committing yourself to enlightenment by non-resistance.
Reading is a very important skill to have developed as a self-directed learner. With powerful reading tools, comes a naturally higher information processing rate. To really understand a problem, assessing the different types obstacles must be identified. The physical obstacles of reading are adjusting your muscles to allow your eyes to focus on a physical depth clearly. That could cause constraint in the head that lead to aches. A mental obstacle would be handling your short term memory to focus on the present and assess the demands of reading. The brain constantly codes/decodes information to cope with reality. An emotional obstacle would be dealing with the stressors that inspire me to slow down and feel like my energy levels are depleted. This can influence mental obstacles severely.
You could build focus by teaching your body how to keep the muscles tensed/relaxed in a specific way for periods of immersion reading.
Through sensory orientation you could go through different visual dimensions by adjusting the width and height of your peripheral vision.
These examples of activities in reading address specific obstacles that cause resistance. Alternate and discover new ways to build your flow in life. Rather than put power into going against an obtrusion, be like water and encompass. When a strong enough flow of water coming down a mountain streams towards the valley it creates a river. The stream meets many stones and moss, but continues to slowly erode it’s obstacles. The object of non-resistance is to create enlightenment.
In skill acquisition, enlightenment is mastery of mastery.
In whatever you do, knowing your path is of mastery can inspire behaviors that indicate so. A master on his path fully assumes constant growth and innovation. The most important trait he contains is commitment. Continuous commitments of focus and engagement will give you the track record of success. Start with small investments of fully engaged mastery and exponentially build.
The best commitments are comprised of many different actions you can take to engage yourself in what you want to gain enlightenment on. If we build habits of doing something actively for at least 15-20 days, what we feel comfortable with will transform homeostasis. The most difficult situation to be in is when you begin a new habit, take a break after 2 days and fail to return to for over a week. This is because when you remember the motivation you had of initially started doing something like consistently go to the gym, you may feel remorse for not following through. Focus on establishing a rhythm rather than going for it all at once will prevent you getting burnt out on it and getting trapped in an emotional obstacle.
The Main Lessons
Commit yourself to being enlightened and using non resistance to discover endless alternate solutions to obstacles.
Become engaged to dilate your perceptions.
Trust in your faculties and act through them, not set to autopilot and disengage.
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