Your teacher? Your mother? Your father? Your idol? Your habit? Who knows how long YOU should practice? Who knows what is best for you, really? And I mean, really BEST – including your mind, body, soul, and spirit. What is best for you? Who really truly knows that best of all?
Not your ego, either arrogant or submissive… not the part of you who tells you what you “should” do, echoing the ideas of others, or the part of you that runs away from the challenges of self-discipline and self-discovery.
It is the REAL you that knows you best. Your essential being, the part of you which is primary, and which is ultimately in full control of all of your functioning. That part of you which makes your heart beat and your lungs breathe air. That part of you which is able to think and move, and walk down the street while talking with your friend. That part of you which knows how to organize and coordinate all of your functioning, conscious and unconscious. That innermost part of you. That essence deep within your heart, your brain, and your bone marrow.
THAT YOU knows what is best for you, better than anyone else.
But how often do you listen to it? How often to you really truly stop, ask, and listen to what it has to say?
Have you ever stopped to ask and listen to your own inner Wisdom, housed in mind-body-soul, asking it how long you should practice today?
How is it possible that the answer could be a flat “5 hours” or “8 hours” or “2 hours” or “every single day”, when your inner Wisdom is something alive, responsive to the constant fluctuations within you, of mood, emotions, physical state, circumstances, and all kinds of other influences?
How could the answer be something fixed, when you are anything but fixed?
The question, “How long should I practice,” is a question which must be asked again and again and again, from moment to moment, and which has an ever-changing, ever-fresh, ever-renewing answer. Be prepared to allow the answer to change, because you do. Every day, every minute, every year you are a different person. There can be no right answer to this question outside of the answer that your True Self gives you from the depths of your being, once you have stopped, become still and quiet within yourself, asked, and listened.
Until you dare to take on the responsibility of your freedom to BE YOU, by all means take someone else’s advice and force yourself to do what they want you to do, possibly against your inner will. Maybe that IS the best thing for you right now, to teach you what the consequences are of not listening to your own heart. But someday, if not today, please DO stop, ask your whole self, and listen to the answer, which might surprise you.
This is the way to overcome inner conflict. This is the way out of suffering. This is an essential step towards efficient and effective practicing, because the best practicing occurs when we WANT to do it, not when we are forcing ourselves, or being forced by someone else.
Find your DESIRE to practice, and you will enjoy it. When you enjoy your practicing, you will be practicing how to play your instrument with joy, and you will bring that joy to your audience. Practice while suffering, with inner conflict, and you are practicing how to play your instrument without joy.
The way you practice is what you will get better at. Do you want to get better at playing joyfully or joylessly?
Who would you rather listen to? The musician who loves making music, or the one who has learned how to force?
Stop, become still and quiet within yourself, ask your whole self – from the depths of your heart – and listen to the answer. Nobody knows better than you. Beyond a doubt.
Try it out, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your comments!
Peace & Joy,
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