Four Steps To Developing The Practicing Mind

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practicing mindHave you ever had these thoughts enter your mind while practicing your music?

“I’m never going to learn this.”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get this to sound the way I want.”

“This is where I always mess up.”

“I can’t ever seem to get this part right.”

Yep, me too.   It all sounds pretty negative, doesn’t it?

Why do you think we entertain these thoughts?  Maybe it’s because we are too focused on the product and not on the process itself.

When You’re Focused on the Product…

You are judging yourself and putting the majority of your attention on the mistakes.

Pretty soon, you find yourself being so critical that it makes you want to stop completely.  Practicing is now considered drudgery and no longer fun.

Being Focused on the Process Means…

You are just learning and doing.  While the activity is being executed, you observe your outcome and make the adjustments necessary.

Now, you are not emotionally attached to the process because you are not judging anything.  Paying more attention to the process, rather than the product, prevents you from being overly critical.

What Are You Focused On?

If you are focused on the product, you are looking for perfection.  This is not only unachievable, but unrealistic as well.  You are less likely to learn the music and get what you want.

When you are focused on the process, you are taking steps towards making the music more effortless for you to read and play.  Instead of spinning your tires getting nowhere, you are now in the driver’s seat moving closer to your destination.

Make the Shift

You’ve made the shift to a “practicing mind” if you look forward to your next practice session instead of dreading it.  This is your ultimate goal.

So, how do we develop a practicing mind?  By following these four steps:

Step 1 – Keep focused on the process, not the product.

Evaluate the outcome objectively and not emotionally or judgmentally.

Step 2 – Stay in the present.

Think about what you are doing right now.

Step 3 – Make the process your goal.

Use the information you receive along the way to help you steer closer to your destination.

Step 4 – Be intentional.

Know what you want to accomplish and take steps towards achieving it.

Become an Observer

Take note of everything you are doing and make little adjustments along the way.  Think of it as an experiment.  You’re going to keep testing certain things until they get closer to what you want.

Get Rid of Perfectionism

Superman can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  You are not Superman.  Accept that you are more like Clark Kent who has to work things out slowly and deliberately, just like everyone else.

If you concentrate on “trying & tweeking,” you will eliminate the need to “do it right or not at all.”  No one can do things perfectly on their first try (unless you’re Superman, of course), but everyone has the ability to try and try again.

Become a “tryer” and a “tweeker,” not a perfector.  Make a practicing mind your hidden superpower.

What About You?

Are you Superman or Clark Kent?  Do you focus on the process or the product?  Have you developed the practicing mind?  Share in the comments below…

photo credit: ★ jox via photopin cc

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