What is my skill of keeping a practice like?

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

My kids tried to the shoulder stand this morning. They have seen me doing it in my yoga practice and imitated the moves. Not there yet. Before I could open my mouth to say anything my son declared: ‘you practiced a whole lot that’s why you can do it better’. Practice. The word they are probably bored (and maybe annoyed, too) to hear once again.

I know, my intrinsic motivation for practice was not the only factor in years of work. In journaling and yoga I needed to have inspiring teachers to push me over my limits. I had the interest and the persistence, but they took me as a student and kept me focused on the practice.

Sometimes practicing obstinately is not the solution. I remember the instant when the understanding arrived of how to perform a flip turn in my swimming class.

I could swim in the high school team in the States despite I only swam in the local pool before without any training. My coaches were busy teaching me the correct swimming techniques for months and with six trainings a week I improved a lot. The time arrived for competing and the desire to gain some speed, so I needed to learn flip turns. I tried. My coach was giving the instructions from above, depleting the English vocabulary of body moves. I tried harder. My nose full of water, dizzy by the lack of oxygen, and my legs just would not go where they supposed to. I was desperate, but stubbornly kept doing it, I was convinced that if I keep practicing I will manage. A lesson learned here.

I do not remember how much time we spent on my flip turn, but I know I gave up by the end. Fortunately, my coach did not, and changed from shouting to making a video: he recorded my crazy struggle under the water. I saw myself, and I suddenly realized what I was doing (that looked as if I was fighting for my life). I needed to see myself to be able to create a new concept of the flip turn in my head: this is a somersault! I was able to do that on the ground, and it worked in the water, too. After 20 years and very little swimming done in between, my body still remembers how to do a somersault at the end of the lane.

My experiences taught me that my skill of keeping a practice for shorter or longer periods of time includes various factors. If you embark on creating a practice, examine the factors that would support you in keeping it. Try to record your experiences for a while to learn about your practicing skill!


Writing again raised my awareness. It is quite dull and also lazy to say to my children ‘keep doing it’, I free them from the constant repetition of ‘it takes practice’. They have already mastered speaking and walking with years of practice without their mom’s commentary. I shut my mouth, show an example and trust them.


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