Practice Room

Or….Making Room For Practice

practice room for piano

What do you visualize when you hear the words practice room? I immediately see a small windowless room with a piano, bench, metronome, pencil, and a pile of music. The walls are a dull industrial greenish grey. In reality I never practiced piano in a room like this, but that is what pops into my mind.

What happens if you visualize a practice field? I see a football field that is only half-scale in size and in poor condition. What about practice time? Is it a clock ticking loudly? How do things change for you if you say room to practice? I see my brain with its attitudes, thoughts, and processes. More on that later.

Practice can be defined as:

  1. Perform an activity or skill repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency
  2. Carry out a particular activity, method, or custom habitually or regularly, or
  3. To train by repeated exercises

To practice something requires a certain attitude. Practice is NOT a performance, so there needs to be a willingness, or even an expectation, to make mistakes. As noted in the definitions above, it also includes an expectation for repetition. We’ve all probably heard, and lived, the phrase “use it or lose it.” That’s where the idea of practice being regular or habitual fits in. Did you take Spanish in high school? How much do you still remember if you don’t use it every day. I remember a few words and phrases, but have lost most of it. The same happened with Japanese.

practice soccer

Historically, I’ve not been a fan of practice. I was fearful of mistakes, treated practice like a performance, and didn’t particularly like drills or repetition. This was true for sports and piano. I wasn’t very good at waiting, and practice felt like waiting. I didn’t embrace the idea that something could be happening while I was practicing.

Recently (very recently) my attitude about practice has shifted. Now when I think of practice it is less about the room, field, or venue and more about making room in my brain and life. It is helpful to take a few extra minutes to set an intention for the practice. I ask myself, “what do I want to accomplish right now?” I also think through different strategies to reach the goal.

practice with metronome

Practice can be summed up by trying to do one thing better than I did it before. I wish I could give credit for that wisdom since I didn’t come up with in on my own, but I don’t know where I heard it. I recently found it scrawled on a piece of paper when I cleaned off my desk. That one line changed a very old attitude for me. Wow, am I thankful! Today….I am working on page turns. That will be my practice plan.

Unsolicited Advice

Stop Sign indicating stop giving unsolicited advice

I could write a very short article on unsolicited advice; one declarative sentence. Stop, Don’t Do It! It is rarely a good plan in any relationship. Why?

  1. It doesn’t work, at least not often, and it can strain relationships
  2. It makes you responsible if your advice turns out poorly.

There are some key words to define. Lets start with the word advice. Oxford Languages defines it as guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as a suggestion about what someone should do or how they should act. That doesn’t seem too ominous. Then there is the word unsolicited. Merriam-Webster defines unsolicited as not asked for or requested. This is where the problem lies. You were not asked for it. As a result, it then runs the risk of triggering defensiveness in the receiver of that advice.

I know that watching someone struggle is difficult. That is particularly true if you believe that you have the answer to their problem. If you are really honest, how often do you welcome unsolicited advice? If it is task-based or work-related it can be helpful in some situations, but you also run the danger of conveying that you don’t believe the other person is capable of figuring things out.

conversation without unsolicited advice

Perhaps a better approach is to just say something general about your willingness to help if the other person needs it. Then, you can expect that they will ask if they are uncertain or unsure of something. If it isn’t procedural, and is in the realm of opinion, sharing is even less desirable. If someone wants to know your thoughts and opinions they will ask.

Exercise vs Movement

Exercise vs movement

There is something about the word exercise that causes an emotional reaction for many people. I find it interesting that the word movement rarely elicits the same emotional response. Go ahead, say the words exercise and movement aloud and then notice what you feel. Try “I’m going to exercise” vs “I’m going to move.”

Although the literature suggests that exercise is beneficial for both physical and mental health, I believe many people are avoidant due to the negative connotation the word exercise has developed. Perhaps you were picked last for teams in gym class. Maybe you were teased about your level of coordination in the past. Maybe you have an internal dialogue about not being athletic.

Here are some steps you can use to get moving in the right direction.

walking on beach for movement vs exercise
  1. What forms of movement do you enjoy? Do you hate sit-ups but love to dance? List as many pleasurable ways to move that you can think of. My list would include swimming, dancing, and walking in the mountains or on a beach.
  2. What forms of movement can you tolerate, even if you don’t love them? I can tolerate an elliptical machine and stationary bike.
  3. What forms of movement do you really dislike? I dislike stair climbing, core strength training, and running.
  4. What forms of movement have you been curious about? My curiosity list includes kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, rowing, and zumba.
  5. What holds you back? Some obstacles for me are physical limitations, availability, and not wanting to feel foolish, embarrassed, or “stupid” if I’m not good at something.
Possibility List

Once you have the answers to these questions you can start to create a Possibility List. Then you can use the list to increase the amount of movement you do each day. It’s ok to start small with types of movement you really enjoy.

How much different would it feel to say “I get to walk in the mountains” instead of “I have to exercise?” I have said it before, words have power. Deliberately choose the word that helps you live your values in a comfortable way.


Do I Still Do Reiki?

People have asked, “Do you still do Reiki?” The anwer is Yes. I do continue to use Reiki. However, much like tapping, I don’t use it as intentionally or as frequently as in the past. That realization makes me feel sad.

I find that the absence of a local Reiki Community is a factor. My Reiki Community in Ohio was robust. I loved being around other people, doing, sharing, and talking about Reiki. I really miss that. I also miss those people that were in my life then.

I deliberately use Reiki in two ways now. When I am enjoying time in nautre I often send Reiki energy out to the tress and animals. Combining Reiki with tapping is also something I do fairly frequently. I focus the Reiki energy in my fingertips while I am tapping on the meridians and it seems to enhance my experience.

Someday I would like to re-engage in a more intentional program of Reiki study, practice, and instruction. Teaching Reiki has always been greatly satisfying. Now does not feel like the right season for me, but I remain open for it when it appears