Have you gotten off track with your Qigong or Tai Chi practice? If so, you’re not alone. Building momentum with your practice is one of the biggest challenges for beginners. I see this problem again and again in students. The good news is that if you sincerely want to get back on track, you can do it. These tips will help.
1. Know that Everyone Struggles
Sooner or later, everyone must face this issue. Even the most disciplined students go through phases where they stop practicing. It’s human nature.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”- Thomas Edison
The sooner you acknowledge that failure is part of the learning process, the sooner you can get yourself back on track. I’ve failed, and so have my top students. What makes us successful is that we accept failure as part of the process.
2. Read a Book
My teacher’s books are strewn all around the house. I’ve been reading them since 1997, but they still have the same effect on me. Whenever I read them, even for just a few minutes, I get inspired. And when I’m inspired, I practice more.
If you don’t own all of my teacher’s books, then I think you’re nuts. His books are treasures. Never before in history has so much quality information on these arts been available for so cheap. Get them.
There are other good books out there too. Heck, even bad books can sometimes inspire me to practice. After reading a bad book, I feel grateful to have such a good teacher, and the gratitude inspires me to go practice!
3. Do the 2-Minute Drill
I originally developed the 2-Minute Drill for students who had stopped practicing. For whatever reason, it was too difficult for them to jump straight back into the 15-Minute Routine. The 2-Minute Drill, however, was something they could manage.
Do you have 2 minutes? Of course you do. That’s why the 2-Minute Drill works so well — because it’s doable. I recommend that you set a goal to do the 2-Minute Drill every day for 30 days. If you fail, then just try again, without beating yourself up (see tip #1).
4. Take a Class
Do you live in Gainesville? If so, do you realize how many students reading this sentence from all over the country are envious of your ability to simply pop into class? (Maybe the long-distance students will comment below to encourage the local students!)
Before he moved to Florida, my student Chris would drive 8 hours from New Orleans to learn from me every few months. My student Christina (who is now married to Chris!) would drive 2.5 hours from St. Petersburg every week. Other students have flown or driven from New Mexico, Oregon, California, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wyoming, Texas, New York, and even Alaska!
If you live in Gainesville, then it’s simple. Don’t make things complicated. If you want to come back to class, then just do it.
For those out of town, it’s harder, but still doable. Sign up for one of my workshops, or plan to come to Costa Rica for a retreat, or make the trip to Gainesville. It’s worth it!
5. Create Space
Is there room in your life — physically and metaphorically — for these arts? Is there a clean, comfortable place where you can go practice whenever you want? If not, then maybe you’ve just found the missing puzzle piece.
Years ago, I moved into a beautiful apartment overlooking a park in New York City. My friends helped me move in, and I asked them to leave the master bedroom empty.
“Why leave it empty?” a friend asked.
“Because that’s the practice room,” I replied.
“But it’s the nicest room in the apartment!”
“Yep. And that’s why it’s going to be the practice room.”
I created space for my practice. At the time, this was a big shift for me because I had been cooped up in tiny apartments for years, making it difficult to practice during the winter. As soon as I gave myself a nice practice space, things started to change for me. Suddenly, I found it easy to practice!
We have a room for everything — eating, sleeping, watching TV — but we have no room for Mindfulness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
If you don’t yet have a place to practice, then create one. It can be a room, a porch, a gazebo in the back yard, but it must be comfortable, it must be convenient, and it must be readily available. Your space should be inviting, and it should entice you to practice.
6. Talk to Sifu
Sometimes, what you need most is a little support from your Sifu. Even if you probably know what he’s going to say, it can be reassuring to hear it. Your Sifu often has exactly what students are desperate for — perspective.
If you know me, then you know that I don’t just teach; I cultivate relationships with my students. Even though I’ve taught thousands of people, I know almost all of them by name. (If I don’t yet know your name, then I promise to learn it quickly if you start talking to me!) If I’m your Sifu, then you have a relationship with me. Use it!
If I’m not your sifu, then I encourage you to go talk to yours. As a Sifu, I can almost guarantee that yours will be happy to hear from you, and happy to help. (If not, then it might be time to find a new teacher.)
7. Read My Blog
My blog is a modern tool that helps me to address subjects that are meaningful to students. And guess what? Lots of students struggle with practicing, so it’s a common theme on my blog. In many ways, my blog is for you!
Blogs are great because they are dynamic. For example, you can scroll to the bottom of this post right now and leave a comment. (Yes, it’s really that easy.) And I will respond to that comment, creating a conversation. And because that conversation is public, it helps to create community among all the people reading.
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