Wednesday, January 21, 2009

100 Shiny Red Stars

There are a lot of changes going on at this time, the United States has a new president (Obamanos! Yes we did!), it is the start of a new calendar year, the lunar year of the ox is about to begin, and for me there are some other changes occurring in my life.

Practice something for 100 days and it's yours for life.
-Chinese aphorism
Kim Ivy, who runs Embrace the Moon: Taijiquan and Qigong school where I train has issued a 100 days of practice challenge to her school on Facebook:
What an incredible day! It was great simply to be alive and experience it. Several of you have been asking about 100 Days of Practice. Each year those who feel called take the leap and choose to practice something intentional for 100 Days. Note to self! It can be whatever you want for however long you want. Some of the ideas are meditation, writing, Tai Chi, Optimism, Service. Some ideas are for 5 minutes or for 30. Keep it loose, keep it disciplined, whatever you think might work for you.

Think about it this week and start January 26th with the New Year of the Ox. Or, if you know and are ready to go, start with our new President and his 100 days tomorrow! (Jan. 21). If 100 Days is not for you but the idea is compelling, try 30 days. Just for fun and to see what happens! I'll be offering support along the way and
invite everyone to add to the discussion board. I love what is being said so far.

May your intention be your manifestation,


Practice Makes Perfect
(see response post On Perfection)
"I grew up with the aphorism, maybe you did, too-- Practice Makes Perfect." (William Wittman) It's worth taking a look at what practice really is. I love how Kim answers What Makes practice, Practice? Really, read the whole thing, it's well worth it.
Intent. Grace. Humility. Consistency. Routine. Perfection. Imperfection. Motivation. Rest from Motive. Conscious Awareness. Doing something different. Doing the same thing over and over. Flow. Feeling good. Fun. Nine-year-old Zamora who has studied with me for four years says practice is “repeating something over and over until you gradually get good at it.” I love that a nine-year-old understands the concept of gradually! So, what does makes practice, Practice? The overwhelming theme that has emerged is this: Intention. Practice is many things, but primarily it is bringing our intention into whatever we are doing.

This practice will help you change gradually into a true expression of yourself, finding knowledge and power within yourself. Kim shares:
I bring to my practice not just repeating something over and over but the act of self-reflection: I practice and I observe. I practice again. I tweak and adjust and tear apart and build up again. I create an opportunity to know myself better. Gradually this habit seeps into the rest of my activities. The result of Practice is that over time, I have a more
engaged relationship with my whole life.

And don't talk yourself out of the practice!

“But I can’t practice on my own." "I will do it wrong." "I will set an incorrect path.” Truly these are the worst things to allow ourselves to believe. ...

When we stifle the practice process by choosing to engage in negative mental activity, we close the door on our growth and all that is available to us. We deny our natural instincts, our intuitive guidance. Gradually over time we become smaller, weaker, fragile, less connected. It is a terrible death because we are still breathing but we are not growing.

Use your intellect to help you enter, maintain, and make time for the practice. Motivate yourself, enlist a buddy to help you stay motivated, whatever works for you.

Tracking Your Progress
While searching for other 100 days of practice around the net, I found a Web site targetting teachers helping young violinists (little kids) develop practices. It has a great product on it, the 100 days of practice chart and certificate. You don't need to be a little kid or a violinist to use this chart. You just need to have the heart of a child and you will grow into the virtuoso of your practice.

Give yourself a red star every day right after you practice, a reward on days 25, 50, and 75, then graduate yourself at 100! Celebrate! I'm going to buy a chart for the course and a bottle of champagne and a present for the finish line. This is going to be a lot of fun.

My Practice: Writing Every Day
Last year I picked up the blog again and have been writing quite a bit, more than you see. There's actually a lot of time spent writing and editing behind the scenes. I have many blog posts in flight at any one time (roughly 40 right now) for which I am collecting quotes, thoughts, ideas, and just working out the flow and timing for delivery. Sometimes a news event pops up that I want to post about right away. Sometimes I get brave enough to turn diary writing of mine into a post. However, I'm not quite as disciplined about writing every day as my aspirations would have me. Time to grow.

William Wittman at writes about the true power of practice. One of William's teachers motivated him, “If you want to become a writer, write. Write a million words and you will be a writer.” Now I'm taking up the challenge, beginning the 100 days of practice to engage in my writing, much of which will be for this blog.

Along with that, I'm starting up a new series for this blog that I hope you will enjoy. This will be a forcing function to post at least once per week.

Introducing the Meditation of the Week
Over the past year I have included meditation into my life in some form every day - sometimes through taijiquan, qigong, artwork, reiki, yoga, zazen, or simply mindful walking, driving, or breathing. I have been felt amazing developments through it. Going forward, I am starting a series on my blog the Mindfulness Practice Of the Week--MPoW. (This will be the only M-PoW-er yourself joke. There. It's done.) Each week I will write up a post on a meditation type or focus for myself and my readers to follow throughout the week. The comments are wide open for people to ask questions and share their experiences with the meditation. At the end of each week, I will summarize experiences that were shared with me, then start off each week with a fresh new contemplative focus.

Join me in the practice and earn your 100 shiny red stars. President Obama, congratulations on day 1 in the white house. This * is for you.

Request for Comments - No Lonely Posts!
What practice are you engaging in for 100 days?
What does practice mean to you?


  1. I had a hockey coach when I was twelve years old who would say over and over, "Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent."

    He was a slave driver in our practices. He pushed us to do everything we did in practice exactly how we would do it if we were playing a game, from the way we held our sticks to our positioning on the ice. He even pushed us to skate as fast as we could every moment we were on the ice because skating slower than maximum speed could become a bad habit that would creep into games.

    I didn't like this coach much at the time, but I look back on him now as the best hockey coach I ever had.

    He did eventually instill in me that practice must be done properly and with awareness and intention in order for it to be effective. Practicing without mindfulness just solidifies bad habits. I still think about that often.

  2. Hi all, Kim Ivy here from Embrace The Moon. Brad, I heard that same comment, "practice makes permanent" from a poetry teacher of mine in college. It sure made sense at the time and we too were encouraged to do everything correctly. Most of my martial arts teachers were similarly exacting. Now though, I have a broader perspective. Especially as adults, we often have to slog through the myasma of not feeling perfect. We become too self-concious. So then, we do nothing! So, I often encourage people just to practice as practice is the only method I have ever met that helps shape us, transform us. But, this does not mean we have to be correct per se. But we have to do it, beyond the idea of right and wrong. I think you are totally right on when stating mindfullness is essential for efficacy. Practice, when done over time, mindfully helps us to become keen observers of ourselves and this cannot help but change us. There is nothing about change that leaves anything permanent.

  3. One reason I like "practice makes permanent" rather than "practice makes perfect" is that it moves away from the idea of perfection. I don't practice with the expectation of being or becoming perfect. I practice with awareness that the way in which I practice will form habits of doing the practice in that way in the future. It would be more accurate to say "practice makes habits," but that lacks the alliteration and lingual appeal.

  4. Brad and Kim, thank you for the comments and deep thinking. I've posted a response entitled On Perfection -

  5. what a wonderful inspiration Ed. Thank you so much for sharing and putting your own writing and thoughts out there. I have to figure out what I am going to do, but knowing I don't have to start it right away is my biggest challenge to overcome. I'll keep reading your work though!

  6. Thanks, Liz. I hope that you keep writing, too.