The Art of Intentional Practice
Practice gets a bad rap.
I've heard the gamut of responses to the idea of "practice" -- from spiritual transcendence to athletic performance to dreadful, dull and boring repetitive action.
In actuality, you are practicing every moment of every day. Consciously or unconsciously, you are practicing your responses, your actions and your reactions. You are practicing your best and your worst qualities by simply doing what you do, over and over. This ultimately defines the quality of your life.
However, done intentionally, practice can be a potent and reliable ally in real and reliable transformation.
Intentional practice is the key.
Intentional practice is about making a different choice -- disruption of the status quo in your actions. Intentional practice has a vision. Intentional practice is also fluid and deeply connected to the present moment and what is working.
Intentional practice means you are practicing something that is incredibly important to you be it abundance, peace, health, self-expression, connection, or success and, done right, you are practicing in ways that hold tremendous value for you and the woman you wish to be today and tomorrow.
Who do you want to be?
This is a valuable question, and, certainly you can be no one but yourself. There is nothing to fix or mend, intentional practice is about peeling back the layers of who you aren't to reveal and polish that diamond that you are.
- I want to be a woman who embodies generosity and abundance.
- I want to be a woman who is strong physically, mentally and emotionally.
- I want to be a woman who speaks up and speaks the truth.
- I want to be a woman who uses and celebrates my innate gifts and talents.
- I want to be a woman who loves deeply and lives close to my own knowing.
- I want to be a woman who makes a powerful contribution in the lives of others.
These are examples of who I want to be each and every day and how I practice. And in showing up for this vision of myself and supporting other women over the years, here is the secret I've learned; if you want something (like YOU really want it, it isn't something you've been told you *should* want) it is already burning within you. It is already yours.
All you have to do is practice.
How to be intentional in practice.
Value your practice -- elevate it's importance. The biggest objection I hear is that people don't have time. Yes, you do. I understand that this can feel like a monumental shift but it is critical -- you, and your intentional practice, is for you and you alone. It is time for you to affirm and embody your desires as a priority. This, right here, changes everything. Make the time. Put yourself first as a radical act of elevating the importance of who you most wish to be and how you most wish to feel as you move through the world.
Be willing to fail. Let go of perfection. Failure is a part of any good process. To be great at anything means understanding and knowing the contrast intimately. Expect and welcome failure as the teacher that it is. We all know intellectually that failure is a powerful teacher. Welcome failure with grace, instead of beating yourself with the idea of perfection.
You aren't there yet, so keep your attention where you are right now. Intentional practice is about having a powerful vision, but keeping your eyes and your attention fixed on getting to your vision of success is a recipe for misery. As badly as we might wish for an end-game and a final completion, it typically doesn't exist. We are constantly evolving and changing and until you die, I hope you will be engaged in your sacred practice. Yes, have a vision, but let your attention rest in the day to day doing.
Appreciate how far you've come and how it feels in the doing. It is vital to take time to acknowledge how far you've come. Take time to take in how good it feels to take action that is aligned with the woman you know you are and that you are becoming. So yes, appreciate how it feels and acknowledge your progress. When I was learning to love strength training, I did not enjoy most of the sessions of strength training. But what I did enjoy was the feeling in my body afterwards. What I did enjoy was the growing sense of strength and the lessening of aches and pains. This kept my skin in the game while I was learning to enjoy strength training.
Enjoy the process. If every fiber of your being hates what you are doing, evaluate your desires and intentions. It could be simple resistance or, it could be that you are under the spell of someone else's ideas and expectations and *shoulds*. To be honest, it could also be that you have ideas about how things should be -- sometimes, things are hard. That's okay. You are built for hard things. I trust you to know the difference between not wanting to do something hard and a true and deep NO from your soul. Trust yourself to know the difference and really, enjoy the fullness of your humanity as you choose to be more intentional in how you practice.
I believe in you, and your practice.
You are not here to elevate someone else's desires or ideas. You make your most powerful contribution to the world when you are committed to honoring your own desires and being the woman you are more fully until the day you die.
May you practice with vigor being the woman you are and the woman you wish to be. May your practices be potent allies in real and reliable transformation. And, heart wide open, may you embrace the joys and the challenges of intentional practice and all that is has to offer you.
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