The Practising Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life

Pashalis

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Have been made aware of this pretty fascinating little book by Thomas M. Sterner recently. I'm currently reading it the second time and I would say that it is one for our recommended book list for the "Work on the Self" section and/or "psychology". I would even say that it should be right at the top books for those sections. Highly recommended... You won't regret to have read it and follow the advice, to say the least... Only 168 Pages, full of things to think about and more importantly practise in regards to the work.

It has answered a number of pretty profound questions for me and much more importantly, it gives pretty good advice/knowledge on what Gurdjieff and Co. have talked about and how to see and handle it in real live situation, in order to see yourself and develop a practising mind at the same time.

The full title of the book is:

"The Practising Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life - Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process"

Here is a little trailer for the book:


https://youtu.be/ibWfqsbc59c

It is also available as Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Mind-Developing-Discipline-Challenge/dp/1608680908/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I'll give you a short excerpt from the beginning of the book, so you have an idea:

Real peace and contentment in our lives come from realizing that life is a process to engage in, a journey down a path that we can choose to experience as magical.

The Practicing Mind is about remembering what you already know at some level and bringing that memory into the present, where it will both serve to place you on that path and empower you to partake in the journey. This book will reintroduce you to a process you followed to acquire a skill before you knew what process meant, and it will remind you that life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort to refine the motions, both physical and mental, that compose our days.

We all understand that activities such as learning to play a musical instrument and developing a fundamentally sound golf swing are skills and as
such require practice. But in fact, life is a journey that requires and even forces us — either consciously or unconsciously — to master one skill after another. We easily forget that when our lives here began, learning to walk and to articulate our thoughts and feelings started from a place of “no skill.” Driven by both desire and necessity, we mastered these skills one step at a time, one sound at a time, and, perhaps most important, without a sense of struggle. Just as with such endeavors as music or golf, we acquired these skills by the process we call practice: the repetition of an activity with the purposeful awareness and intention of accomplishing an intended goal.

In our overpaced and overstressed world today, we use the word skill to define a personal asset; for example, we might say, “That is not part of my skill set.” At the same time, our recognition of the value of possessing many diverse skills is expanding. Ironically, though, we miss the point that the ability to develop any skill as swiftly as possible, with the least amount of effort, and even to experience inner peace and joy in the process, is in fact a skill itself, and one that requires constant practice to become an effortless part of who we are.
When we learn to focus on and embrace the process of experiencing life, whether we’re working toward a personal aspiration or working through a
difficult time, we begin to free ourselves from the stress and anxiety that are born out of our attachment to our goals, our sense that “I can’t feel happiness until I reach my goal.” This “goal” always takes the form of someplace we have not yet reached, something we don’t yet have but will at some point, and then, we believe, all will be right in our life. When we subtly shift toward both focusing on and finding joy in the process of achieving instead of having the goal, we have gained a new skill. And once mastered, it is magical and incredibly empowering.

We describe those who demonstrate this “skill” as possessing such qualities as self-discipline, focus, patience, and self-awareness, and we recognize that these all-important virtues are interwoven threads in the fabric of true inner peace and contentment in life. With this skill, we are masters of the energy we expend in life, and without it, we are victims of our own unfocused and constantly changing efforts, desires, and directions.

The Practicing Mind helps you to understand and develop this skill as a natural part of who you are, and to understand how the culture we live in
constantly instructs us to the contrary.
This book is about how learning to live in the present moment and becoming process-oriented centers us on this magical path and brings us a wonderful sense of patience with both ourselves and our
lives as we learn to enjoy our journey
.

Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions. When the proper mechanics of practice are understood, the task of learning something new becomes a stress-free experience of joy and calmness, a process which settles all areas in your life and promotes proper perspective on all of life’s difficulties.
Here is a little talk by Sterner followed by Q&A session:


https://youtu.be/b2puvHosIpw

His website: http://www.thepracticingmind.com/

He is currently working on his next book called: "Fully Engaged: Using the Practicing Mind in Daily Life" which will be published in October:

http://www.amazon.de/Fully-Engaged-Using-Practicing-Daily/dp/1608684326/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1460133627&sr=8-2&keywords=the+practicing+mind

Can't wait to read it actually...

And he also made this CD (which is currently delivered to me):

"The Meditating Mind: Making Meditation a Part of Your Life":

http://www.amazon.com/Meditating-Mind-Making-Meditation-Part/dp/0977657221/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
 

Pashalis

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Sterner also created a little nifty App with the concepts of the book that reminds every now and then about the key concepts. The audio version of the book is also included in the App. Here is a short video from Sterner:


https://youtu.be/-1KY7y0Lj24
 

Michael Barker-Caven

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Thank you Pashalis for posting this. I am glad it has been such a valuable tool for you and I'll certainly take your recommendation up and order a copy myself.

I was particularly interested by his apparent focus on the idea of success in goal orientation being connected to acceptance and embracing of process. My working life in the professional arts has taught me that intent/preparation only produces results through the cauldron of process - that the process, no matter how fully unknowable it is in advance, how unpredictable and how to a great degree uncontrollable and uncomfortable, is actually the best mechanism for real goal achievement. Process is true creativity in action. That learning to trust in, be open to, be in tune with, be ready for, be in control of - whilst at the same time acknowledging lack of control - is the only road to achieving what you set out to do. Trying to be there before the process is complete, trying to skip steps or dictate results prior to their happening, will always lead to dilution or 'failure'. Process is everything - its a moment to moment being, adjustment, absorption, development, advancement whilst remembering where you came from and reaching for where you are going. That you must bring all this awareness and willingness and vulnerability and determination into the process and carry it along with you. If you fulfill the process, something that you could not have achieved at the outset without going through process can somehow miraculously appear - thanks to process!

I'll let you know what I think when I've had a read. Enjoy the process of reading it a second time! :D
 

Pashalis

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A bit of backround of Sterners history:

About the Author

Thomas M. Sterner has studied Eastern and Western philosophy and modern sports psychology and trained as a jazz pianist. For more than twenty-five years, he served as the chief concert piano technician for a major performing arts center. He prepared and maintained the concert grand piano for hundreds of world-renowned (and demanding) musicians and symphony conductors, and his typical workday required constant interaction with highly disciplined and focused artists. At the same time, he operated a piano remanufacturing facility, rebuilding vintage pianos to factory-new condition. Sterner has parlayed what he learned from his profession into a love of practice. He is an accomplished musician, private pilot, student of archery, and avid golfer, and practicing these activities fills his spare time. He has also worked in the sound and video arts fields as a recording engineer, audio and video editor and processor, and composer. He has produced a radio show about The Practicing Mind and continues to teach his techniques to business people and at sports clinics. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware. His website is www.thepracticingmind.com.
 

Pashalis

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Michael BC said:
Thank you Pashalis for posting this. I am glad it has been such a valuable tool for you and I'll certainly take your recommendation up and order a copy myself.

I was particularly interested by his apparent focus on the idea of success in goal orientation being connected to acceptance and embracing of process. My working life in the professional arts has taught me that intent/preparation only produces results through the cauldron of process - that the process, no matter how fully unknowable it is in advance, how unpredictable and how to a great degree uncontrollable and uncomfortable, is actually the best mechanism for real goal achievement. Process is true creativity in action. That learning to trust in, be open to, be in tune with, be ready for, be in control of - whilst at the same time acknowledging lack of control - is the only road to achieving what you set out to do. Trying to be there before the process is complete, trying to skip steps or dictate results prior to their happening, will always lead to dilution or 'failure'. Process is everything - its a moment to moment being, adjustment, absorption, development, advancement whilst remembering where you came from and reaching for where you are going. That you must bring all this awareness and willingness and vulnerability and determination into the process and carry it along with you. If you fulfill the process, something that you could not have achieved at the outset without going through process can somehow miraculously appear - thanks to process!

I'll let you know what I think when I've had a read. Enjoy the process of reading it a second time! :D
One thing he makes pretty clear, is that life is basically infinite practise, ever expanding, with no real end point and that the way (aka. the practice itself) is the way and not a fixed perfection goal, since there is ultimately no such thing as perfection, but only the here and now. That does not mean you should not have goals, quite the contrary in fact, but that you approach the whole situation in a completely different way, that our modern brains are not used to. In regards to that, he asks a simple but interesting question:

As we attempt to understand ourselves and our struggles with life’s endeavors, we may find peace in the observation of a flower. Ask yourself: At what point in a flower’s life, from seed to full bloom, does it reach perfection?
What would be your answer?

When I first thought about that question, I was scratching my head, thinking about all the different stages of a flowers life and then answered: "When it flowers, of course!"

What he explains then, didn't even enter into my mind! Our modern way of thinking, learning, teaching and acting, just reinforces a very destructive and stressfull mindset, out of which you can only come out, as he explains, by a continuing effort/practise to rewire your brain, to a new and more productive and stressless habit.

He explains in simple terms how repeated practise of anything in our life (including the things we equire unconsciously, trough our environment from the day we are born), creates pathways in our brains, which then become your personality and automatic: A habit. When it has become a habit and thus pretty much automatic, then the only way to rewire your brain (get rid of, or diminishing, a habit) is through awareness, and after that, through a goal used only as a distant rudder via the process of effort/practise, to create a new and more productive, not so stressfull, pathway. It is a basically a simple handbook on how to rewire your brain, in a way that it is even fun!

Interestingly most of what is in our modern society, reinforces, as he explains, all the stressfull and destructive pathways/habits in our brains. And it gets worse every day it seems. It makes it pretty clear to me why it seems to get harder and harder for people to actually be not so stressed out and loaded with all sorts of anxieties. Everything in our culture is designed to wire all the wrong paths in the brain (that realization is actually pretty scary!). At least that realization became pretty clear to me, after reading the book.

Since a habit is wired in your brain, it actually needs effort/practise to loosen that pathway and create another one. I always wondered how and why some people seem to be able to have fun during that rewiring. How and why that seems to work for some people, was always an alien concept for me until I read this book. This books has made it clear to me, how and why that is possible. With the Practising Mind you take everything in life, whatever it might be, even fast changing, suprising and new circumstances, with calmness and even fun! The concept he describes is actually pretty simple, but nevertheless suprising, to see it written and explained like that. I never thought of it like that. At one point the practising mind gets even to a point where it searches and even needs new efforts and challenges, becouse your mind starts to love the process istelf.

Later in the book he describes the four simple “S” words, which help you to stay in the present in any given situation and enable you to observe yourself in the situation: How you react physically and mentally to everything you do and encounter in life.

The four “S” words are: simplify, small, short, and slow. Sounds simple doesn't it? Yes and no. If you actually try to use those words, in the wayhe explains it in regards to the practising mind, in everyday life as much as possible, you will soon start to notice how your body and mind automatically reacts in almost every second to all and everything. And usually those reactions not corrospond with your self image. Another shattering realization. You really start to deeply realize how completly subordinated you are to those automatic reactions, by using the technique of those fours words. He starts the explanation of those four words as follows:

As you will see, these concepts are deeply interrelated and flow back and forth into one another. As you develop control of your practicing mind, it is important to work in a fashion that makes staying in the process as easy as possible, and these four techniques, each one basic and straight forward on its own, can help you do just that.
At one point he talks about the question if we today are really more evolved, as people in the past. Well, he explains pretty clearly why that is not the case.

It becomes apparent, yet again, how right Gurdjieff was...
 

Pashalis

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Pashalis said:
[...]

I always wondered how and why some people seem to be able to have fun during that rewiring. How and why that seems to work for some people, was always an alien concept for me until I read this book. This books has made it clear to me, how and why that is possible. With the Practising Mind you take everything in life, whatever it might be, even fast changing, suprising and new circumstances, with calmness and even fun! The concept he describes is actually pretty simple, but nevertheless suprising, to see it written and explained like that. I never thought of it like that. At one point the practising mind gets even to a point where it searches and even needs new efforts and challenges, becouse your mind starts to love the process istelf.
[...]
In regards to the above and the suffering that usually goes hand in hand with fast changing, suprising and new circumstances, the "Practising Mind" teaches us to see and minimize and even stop that particular suffering, in the way we are normally used to it, simply by changing your brain pathways to experience what you think as of "suffering" in any new or suprising life situation differently, which transforms it to a fun exercise that you look forward to.

The C's, as far as I know, said at some point that "you do not need to suffer", or something like that. I never really understood that, until I read that book. I couldn't find that part in the transcript though. What I found instead was this:

Session 19 November 1994 said:
Q: (L) Do we just have to suffer through this one?

A: Each "suffering" will be closely followed by dramatic life changes.
Session 29 March 1996 said:
Q: (L) What is that supposed to mean? I don't like the sound of that! The other day when you said 'celebrate!' all I did was suffer!

A: Stop suffering!
Session 4 May 1996 said:
A: Tom, you are close, but you are missing the point.

Q: (L) What is the point?

A: The point is, there "has to be" nothing. You will do what you will do. You choose. We have told you this repeatedly, but you still suffer from self-centered perspective.
Session 7 October 1997 said:
Q: Well, I have observed that whatever we resist seems to cause us to suffer.

A: This is true, but suffering comes in differing degrees.
Session 28 August 1999 said:
Q: For example: there are some people who like to suffer, because they believe that the flesh is sinful. That is a big thing that the Lizzies have instituted. For centuries they have wanted people to suffer, and they have made this big deal about sex and anything that might be considered pleasant or desirable should be denied, and that a person should suffer, and revel in their suffering. And, actually, making a person...

A: If one seeks to suffer, they do so in expectation of future reward. They desire to possess something in the end.
Session 26 February 2002 said:
A: Suffering activates neuro-chemicals which turn on DNA receptors.

Q: (A) I don't want to suffer if so! And to have my receptors ... (L) We'll have to invent a special suffering just for that. (A) Okay dear. [Laughter.] (L) Well we must be getting smarter with all the suffering we did back in July through January with this Vincent Bridges business. We must've really gotten smart cause we were really suffering and it culminated in incredible suffering. But I do not want anymore infections. That was not the right kind of suffering. But maybe that was evidence of neuro-chemicals being turned on! When we had our sicknesses in January I was very, very sick first, for about the same exact period of time that Ark was very, very sick. We both had massive infections that were hard to fight. We had to get major antibiotics. The pain was horrible. What was the cause of these infections?

A: Laura, Ark: First opening was stress. Second part was directed wave of negative energy. Third was bacteria activated by this frequency. End result was response from your system which did act beneficially.
So "The Practising Mind" is not really about stopping the suffering per se, but to recognize it and how you think and react to it (aka. any situation in life, that you choose to experience as "suffering", rather then an opportunity to practise/learn something new) and then choose to experience that "suffering" in a completely different way, which then makes it even fun to be confronted with it, because you realize that what you are confronted with, is just a new process to learn something now, in order to grow in the process .

Now what the C's have said; "sit back and enjoy the show" finally makes more sense to me as well, after reading that book.
 

Pashalis

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Here is a short introduction and summary of the book, that can be found at the beginning of the audio version of the book.
It is a pretty good summary of that little book, so I thought I'll transcribe it and bring it up here:

Summary Introduction to the book "The Practising Mind" said:
Research has shown that our experience of feeling unfocused is not imagined. Indeed there are aspects of our culture that are actually increasing our inability to focus on a task for any length of time. Our minds are always restless, never content with the moment. Our internal dialog is always firering off thought filled with emotional content, pulling us out of the present and into the past or future. At the same time we are becoming increasingly more aware of our overall sense of mental exhaustion, our lack of discipline and our inability to focus our mind on demand. To posses a mind that follows our will, a mind that is more emerged in the process of achieving our goals instead of fixated on themoment we have the goal, is a very powerfull asset. It is also a mind that is quiet, peacefull and wastes little energy.

How do we accomplish this?

In "The Practising Mind" Thomas M. Sterner shares what he has learned from over 30 years of studying eastern thought and modern peak performance research and through his own personal struggles to tame a very creative but undisciplined mind. All of life is one form another of practise. The methods taught by Sterner in his book will show you that practise done correctly will transform your experience of mastering anything from one of drudgery to one of calmness; bringing discipline, peace and clarity into your life.
 

Prodigal Son

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Thank you Pashalis for mentioning this book and for giving the excerpts - I have it on order now. What intrigues me is, from your excerpts, how it seems to parallel much of what is contained in Herringel's books on Zen - the ''art', thereof, of practicing' to turn an 'art' into mastery. It is all about process. :)
 

Gaby

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I got the book too and I'm reading it in little breaks here and there at work. The book is small enough that it fits in my pocket.

I think he describes important concepts in a language or in experiences that everyone can relate to.
 

sitting

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Prodigal Son said:
What intrigues me is, from your excerpts, how it seems to parallel much of what is contained in Herringel's books on Zen ...
A small reminder (and aside) if I may.

Zen is often stated as just that ... Zen. As if a stand alone. But the accurate terminology should be Zen Buddhism. Because that's what it really is.

Zen is simply the Japanese distillation of the basic Buddhist doctrine. Transmitted to Japan at a relatively late date -- via China and Korea. (The founder of the Zen sect -- was the Indian master Bodhidharma.)

And thank you Pashalis, for what looks like a most worthwhile book. I will look into it.

FWIW.
 

Pashalis

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Gaby said:
I got the book too and I'm reading it in little breaks here and there at work. The book is small enough that it fits in my pocket.

I think he describes important concepts in a language or in experiences that everyone can relate to.
I think that is exactly what makes that book so practical and helpful. It is a handy little handbook that teaches you, by simple every day situations, how to be more in the moment in any given situation and circumstance, by changing your old habits via simple practise routines. Because everything requires practise and especially those things that are new to us or that we avoid. I'm thinking of it as a short, helpful and effective book to become more aware of your emotions and thought loops in any given moment and circumstance, especially those you usually associated with stress and exhaustion. One of those exercises I find especially helpful is the "slow" exercise, because it forces you to be at the present and see how your mind literally screams at you to hurry up and do other things at the same time, almost constantly. An undisciplined mind is constantly in the past or in the future (with the emotions that come with it), rather then in the situation. A very exhausting and wasteful (energy wise) mindset that our culture today increases every day in us and that makes it hard to see ourselves in any given situation.

It is a very practical and easy to understand guide to what Laura called "disciplining the mind, through exercising that muscle repeatedly" in everday situations. She talked about it in regards to meditation and Sterner also explains how a repeated simple meditation routine (in the meditating mind) can help you to train that muscle. He uses just the Ahh or the Ohh as a seed to concentrate on when meditating:

Quote from Laura in the Session 29 August 2015 said:
Well, I don't think visualizing is what we need here. We're talking about disciplining the mind. Disciplining the mind through meditation is like exercising a muscle. It's taking something really short and tight like a very short phrase and sticking with it.
Sterner basically explains how you can discipline that mind not only through meditation but every day situations, from the smallest to the biggest things, in order to train that muscle (or in other words: create a new pathway in the brain), so that being aware of yourself and your surroundings and how you react in any situation, becomes a natural part of yourself.

It is a book that gives us very practical tools to understand and see ourselves: How we really behave and react, both physically and mentally, in almost every situation in life.

It brings you closer to really understand what Gurdjieff, Don Juan and other teachers meant and modern researchers like Timothy D. Wilson in books like "Strangers to Ourselves" explained about the human condition. Those exercises, combined with the way he explains what we are doing in any given situation, basically forces you to become aware of yourself.

PS: The way he explains stuff, made it clearer to me, what Angsting actually is and why we do it and how to counteract it: He calls it worrying.
 

ashu

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Wow thank you for sharing Pashalis, I will look into buying a copy of his book. He sounds like an interesting chap. I am currently taking up in learning the acoustic guitar and it really does bring you in the present and with Sterner being a musician I am drawn to what he has to say in terms of rewiring of the brain / counteracting thought loops / enjoying the process etc. So again many thanks!
 

Pashalis

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ashu said:
Wow thank you for sharing Pashalis, I will look into buying a copy of his book. He sounds like an interesting chap. I am currently taking up in learning the acoustic guitar and it really does bring you in the present and with Sterner being a musician I am drawn to what he has to say in terms of rewiring of the brain / counteracting thought loops / enjoying the process etc. So again many thanks!
That's quite interesting that you bring that up. I just wanted to tell a bit about the musical aspect of what Sterner describes, when you wrote that.

I also really started to learn the guitar from scratch recently, because of that book basically. After playing the guitar for years (on and off) I realized a while ago that I can certainly learn pretty much any song, but as soon as I have learned the first couple of parts of the song, I came across something new I wanted to learn and on I went. So I'm literally unable to play one song completely, because I was always racing for the next cool thing. Not staying in the process of learning something. I can't hear or understand melody, harmonics, keys and scales let alone playing and recognising them on the guitar.

Through that book I realized that what I have done there isn't really that good, because what I want the most in that department (my goal so to say) is to hear any music and be able to play along and create my own stuff. I teached myself first to play the bass via youtube instructions years ago (also not really the basics), then I switched to the guitar. I realized now that it is very true that you have to study an instrument really from scratch and every little thing, one step at the time and slowly at first.

What is it good for to only be able to play certain passages of certain songs and not being able to understand the instrument and the language of music itself, that enables you to play along with somebody else or recognize music and how you can put it on your instrument or to improvise? Not much. So I'm pretty much still a beginner of playing the guitar, because I skipped the most basic parts of playing and understanding the instrument and music itself, because I was racing for perfection goals, rather then the practise itself.

Here is what Sterner says:

Sterner said:
When I began this project, I envisioned this to be a book that would simply help readers to eliminate the struggles of learning to play a musical instrument. However, the further into the writing process I got, the more I realized that I was writing about my outlook on processing life, not just my thoughts about playing an instrument or learning a golf swing.
and:

Sterner said:
We need to let go of the futile idea that happiness is out there somewhere, and embrace the infinite growth available to us as a treasure, not as something that we are impatient to overcome. People involved in the arts come to understand this endless nature through direct experience, which is part of all the arts. That is why I believe that a personal pursuit of some form of art is so important to a person’s sense of wellbeing. It will teach you the true nature of life right up front, if you pay attention.

Getting started in an art form as an adult is not a difficult task, but you need to approach it with the proper perspective. Whether you’re learning a musical instrument, painting, archery, or dance, you must first find an instructor who meets your needs. This is a fairly routine task for most of us. We do it for our children all the time. What lies in wait to ambush our enthusiasm is our lack of preparation: We are undertaking an art that is infinite in its potential for growth, and because of that we need to prepare to let go of the goal of being “good” at it quickly. There is no goal to reach other than pursuing the activity. This is not an easy perspective to function from, because it is so contrary to everything else we do all day.
and:

Sterner said:
To express a melody on any instrument as it comes from your heart is an experience you have to earn. The universe is not about to give that away for anything but your personal effort. As you work at the process of learning music, you spend time alone with yourself and the energy of music or whatever art form you pursue. It’s a very honorable relationship, really. You need music to express yourself, and music needs you to be expressed.

You give your time and energy to music, and it returns the effort a thousandfold. A lot of the joy of expressing yourself musically is in your awareness of how much of your personal energy and stamina it took you to reach your current performance level. It is fair to assume that we all know this universal law at some level of our being. Whether you are persevering at a diet, exercising regularly, running a marathon, or achieving another personal goal, if your task is completed with little or no effort, it means nothing.
So I'm using the learning of the guitar from stretch now every day, apart from daily meditation and incorporating the practise routines Sterner brings up, for every day situations, in order to train my mind muscle and thus create new pathways in the brain.

I found a very good teacher who basically approaches the learning of the guitar as Sterner explains (because he must have realized, through playing that art form, as sterner explains, that the process of learning the guitar is important and not the goal of perfection). So I'll start from the beginning there and make sure that I incorporate every small lesson every day until it becomes natural. The important thing there is not to skip lessons, because you think you already can do them, even if they sound easy.

Here is the website and it is all for free (highly reccomended for anyone that wants to learn the guitar):

http://www.justinguitar.com/en/BC-000-BeginnersCourse.php
 

ashu

Jedi Master
Its good to hear that you are learning the guitar too. I tried (twice) to learn the guitar years ago but just could not retain anything because of a low fat vegetarian diet most likely. Now here's to hoping I'll be third time lucky what with my diet on track (paleo/keto) and taking iodine. Now all of a sudden I am determined to learn the guitar and I know that I can! Like the iodine process, I think its important to go slowly and be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day and all that!
 
Thanks so much, Pashalis, for bringing this book to our attention. I intend to get the Kindle version.

Slowing down to NOW is one of my favorite principles. Oddly enough, by slowing down, my sense of time and space actually expands. If I intentionally slow my mind or my physical movements while engaged in any task, I find I have the time to actually ENJOY the doingness rather than rushing to reach the end of the process and achieve the goal.

All this hurry, hurry, hurry in order to finish so we can hurry to get on with the next thing on our list -- and while working on one project thinking about the next project we need to do. Getting everything done so we can what? Relax? Stop doing anything? We're rushing our lives away.

I've come to see that STRESS is totally connected to HURRYING. If I slow myself down, I don't feel stressed. If I'm rushing through a task, I feel more stressed.

And when I rush or hurry, I invariably make mistakes or drop things or have to redo something. I learned a bit about going slower from a former housemate of mine. We'd be getting ready to go out and I'd be hurrying in order to be ready to leave on time. She'd remind me that it's ok to go slowly -- that I had all the time in the world. It was amazing how that reminder would immediately remove the burden of stress. She taught me something very valuable.

The other point is about worrying or feeling anxiety. I discovered that whenever I felt anxious or worried it was because I was concerned about the future. So I learned to back myself up and ask myself, "OK. Right this very, very second, am I OK?" And of course the answer was YES. And I'd list all the reasons that I was actually OK right this very second. I had a roof over my head, food in the fridge -- no one was raping, pillaging, murdering me, no earthquake, bombs dropping on me, etc., etc. Just bringing my mental focus back to the present moment dissolved all the anxiety and worry immediately.

Thank you all for your comments and to Pashalis for making us aware of this little gem of a book which can help us do the Work by changing old habits and creating new neural pathways. :)
 
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