A student practices techniques. A master embodies principles

The above quote came from Jeffrey Finder, via Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, and triggered thoughts.

The implication would be, therefore, that the path to “mastery” (a verb, not a noun. A process, not a position.  Any skill you can perform under stress with smooth breathing is something you have “mastered”) is to relate the skill to the smallest number of component skills, and find a way to explore those skills with every moment of your life.

I’m exploring this idea, but have some suggestions, starting with the “one sentence a day” concept.  Let me extract some stuff from it.

  1. “The Way Is In Training”, and other of Musashi’s Principles imply that to achieve mastery, you must practice the skills every day.  If you don’t do it every day, you have no real commitment to mastering it.
  2. Getting ready to spend a single moment involved in something is probably about 90% of the way to spending an hour at it.   An hour a day practicing anything will make you excellent in three years.   A master in 30.  This assumes you have the right role models, and are maintaining sensory acuity, and so forth.  So your “one sentence”, over time,  is a doorway to superb performance.
  3. When you sit down to write, watch your physical “frame”: posture, breathing, relaxation.  Practice going into “visual” or “flow”. Once you find that switch, learn to flick it at will.
  4. When you find the physical and mental components that “switch” your writing on, find them in a common activity–like walking.  When walking, how would you breath, stand, hold your face that is similar to what produces that single sentence? What kind of awareness, mood, mental or emotional focus? When you find a common root that produces APPROPRIATE results in both, practice this with every step. When you sit.  Drive.   Play with your dog.  
  5. Take the “Five Minute Miracle” to the next level.  Once an hour, for sixty seconds, “check in” to see if you are maintaining optimal relaxed focus.  
  6. Every day learn something.   Improve something. And have fun.    Apply this to writing that sentence. And also to sitting and standing and walking.  
  7. Coach Scott Sonnon had a notion called “Perpetual Exercise”–every step you practiced the same breathing you use during intense exercise.  Masters in every field I’ve known have a little part of their brain that is ALWAYS thinking about karate, or writing, or drawing, or music, or yoga, or whatever.  A little humming engine in the back of their head ALWAYS doing asana, or kata, or gathering input, or singing, or dancing.    Or: they find the core aspects of these things, somehow, in everything they do.   I suspect this is the fastest, most reliable path to true excellence.  What would “perpetual writing” me?  And what would “perpetual relaxed awareness” be if this quality can be identified as leading to ease and consistency in “flipping that switch”?
  8. Because this can lead to obsession, and obsession leads to imbalance, and imbalance can destroy your life…the safest thing to become obsessed about is BALANCE. While no doubt it is possible to abuse even this, I’ve not met such a person yet.  Body, Mind, Emotions, Finances would be mine.  Yours needs to be AT LEAST the first three.  
  9. Add more balls only when you can juggle three scarves! One Sentence, Three Tibetans, Five Minute Miracle would be a fabulous opening salvo against your demons.    Takes less than ten minutes TOTAL to actually shine the light on the emotions you have suppressed for decades.   Don’t get over complicated!  When you can do this, slowly expand.  When you “break down” retreat to a prior level, examine your foundations, and begin again.  
  10. Have fun with it.  Take your time. A little walking every day is hella healthier and more sensible than  a marathon once a month.

Namaste,

Steve

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