Although this seminar was about the importance of practice in order to make a breakthrough, it also focused on the benefit of understanding the process we go through. As we discussed in the first seminar (‘TS 1 – Behaviour Patterns’), we give ourselves a huge advantage in life when we are able to predict what is likely to happen. Our understanding of the process allows us to relax when things get difficult. During this session, one participant shared his own personal process – the experience he goes through with every creative project he undertakes – which mirrored the general process from practice to breakthrough.
Punctuated Equilibrium (p.31)
Life, at every level, displays the same characteristic pattern of progress. One element of that pattern is that there are always times when nothing seems to be happening. This can give rise to feelings of helplessness and frustration; and the situation is compounded by the expectations we often have of how things should be. But it is never the case that nothing is happening. There is always something going on; and when you know that the quiet periods are not as quiet as they seem, you can relax, enjoy the relative peace and quiet, and know that eventually things will start moving again.
Close To A Breakthrough (p.399)
This post provides an excellent example of the whole process: from a difficult beginning, persevering through the struggle of establishing new routines, and finally, after much hard work, a life-changing breakthrough. (It appears at 02:23 in the video below.) One of the main messages is, once again, to keep going even when you think nothing is working, because you are closer to a breakthrough than you think.
4 Hours, 4 Weeks, 4 Months (p.436)
Similarly, the list below is taken from another client’s experience of the same process. The eight points provide a neat summary of what we all face when we set out to work on ourselves.
- Progress has already been made. Confidence is there. (This is the first place we are likely to get cocky.)
- Belief in the process is still lacking (understandably).
- Experiencing the self with eyes open – your behaviour has been like this for years and now you are seeing it more clearly and feeling saddened by it. (This is normal & natural).
- Everything seems to be getting worse, not better. (Again, all normal & natural parts of the process.)
- The realisation that this is going to take discipline.
- Breakthrough – all the hard work is paying off. Whatever the catalyst was, progress would not have happened without all the work you put in beforehand. You are more relaxed, more accepting.
- Good things start to happen. (This is another place we are likely to get cocky.)
- Realisation, belief, calm.
300 Days (p.547)
When you gain an understanding of the processes at work, you are more equipped to do what is needed in order to maintain your level of practice. This example comes from my exercise routine which actually took years to establish in the form it is today. There were many periods of frustration and apparent stasis along the way, but eventually I got to the place I wanted to get to. And one simple method helped me more than anything else: I kept a chart of my achievements.
Novelty & Repetition (p.580)
Another aspect of practice worth knowing about is the boredom. We crave novelty and are easily bored by repetition, so when we know that it’s the repetition which fosters progress, it becomes easier to apply ourselves and keep going. Too many people go from one technique to another simply because of the boredom. They give up too easily and move on in an endless search for something that can maintain their excitement. That kind of excitement, however, is always short-lived. There is a more nourishing excitement – a deep, long-lasting feeling of satisfaction – that comes from prolonged and disciplined practice. (Additional information on this subject is provided by the brief and self-explanatory posts: ‘Be With The Boredom’ (p.59) and ‘Every Inch Has To Be Walked’ p.60)
The seminar also stressed the value of seeing your progress. In everything you do, make sure you are fully aware of the progress you’re making. See it clearly. Record your starting point and know that every step you make, no matter how small, is necessary and moves you forward. Don’t assume that you know how things are supposed to work out, but do understand that there is a process involved; a process with patterns of it’s own. See those patterns as clearly as you see your own, and life will get a little easier.
Additional posts: Never Give Up | Progress Means Never Getting There | Persistence is the Key | Note to Self: Fight | I’ll Make It | On The Edge Of A Breakthrough | Another Groundbreaking Weekend