21ST CENTURY TAI CHI
Ideas to bridge the space between thought and action
I’m always impressed when I talk telepathically to these people, for I’ve never been much of an example to others. I generally lack their discipline, I easily find reasons to postpone work, I get distracted and I hate getting up whilst I'm still asleep and it is still dark.
So how can someone with a routine like mine, keep up a motivational practice? How can I break poor habits and adopt new ones when I’m such an indisciplined lout?
Then, satisfied they have taken sufficient selfies and merged with the Tao, they jog home to upload their morning activities to their Instagram followers. Then, they knock-back a watercress and garlic smoothie, drop into a Plank position for 3 hours and simultaneously work through a self-study course on 17th century Mandarin, before heading off to work.
After teaching Tai Chi for over 25 years, I'm aware that the problem is not exclusively mine. Most new students rarely practice outside the class hours, much as they may be encouraged to do so. Most Instructors convince themselves that their students are diligent in their practice, but the sad truth is that few even practice that weeks Form posture between classes. Consequently, they forget, and then feel bad and guilty, and then probably drop out of the class. It happens a lot.
To help my students practice at home, I did set up a Whatsapp group. It succeeded in getting them to organise socials together, but rarely to train. I've organised SLACK forums or Facebook groups where questions can be raised and issues or practices discussed outside class, but again, public forums are not always what is required with a private practice. So then I looked at private motivational apps and in particular one that could be used for trying out something new for a period of time (let's say 30 days) - for example to Read a book, complete an outstanding DIY job, contemplate a change of schedule or routine.
There are plenty of mobile phone apps that will help you accomplish this task - my favourite digital tool of the moment is called Streaks. It permits just 6 habits to be pursued, and I add to this a 30 day time limit.
Later, after completing the 30 days, you may want to repeat it or do more. But start with small habits. Small habits that are thoughtfully formed, become part of your daily work, and become part of who you are. Who you are is always alive and always open to change. This is why after 30 days you can decide what you want to do. Change is always an option.
It's a good idea to add habits that you find you have difficulty practising. For example, lots of people add “Walk the dog” or Clean my teeth”. Personally, if you are either a dog or teeth owner, I think these should be second nature. But if in your case this is not so, then add them in the app until they become part of your daily routine. Then let go. Change, its all about absorbing routine in order to let it go.
Keep it varied to keep it fresh
I thought this was just me, but then I read this report saying that we achieve more when our routines are fresh and challenging. So, the goldfish has another 20 days to go. I’ll let you know how well he does.
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