“….practicing is meditation and therapy.”

From the age of 8, Glenn Kurtz, considered a prodigy, learnt to play classical guitar. When he turned twenty five, he realised that he was unlikely to achieve his dream of becoming an acclaimed virtuoso.

He quit playing the guitar, and set out to work as an editorial assistant. After ten years, he came back to the guitar realizing that “Everyone who gives up a serious childhood dream — of becoming an artist, a doctor, an engineer, an athlete — lives the rest of their life with a sense of loss, with nagging what ifs.”

In the book “Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music”, Glenn’s memoir about playing the guitar, he teaches us about learning, and life in general. He writes that “It….takes time to learn. Time, attention, patience, and forgiveness. It takes practice.”

“Practicing”, he tells us “is training; practicing is meditation and therapy.”

In “The Practicing Mind”, Thomas Sterner elaborates on practice, and makes the point that “we become fixated on our intended goal and completely miss out on the joy present in the process of achieving it. We erroneously think that there is a magical point that we will reach and then we will be happy. We look at the process of getting there as almost a necessary nuisance we have to go through in order to get to our goal.”

“However,” Thomas writes, “when you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing.”

Thomas then makes a remarkable point. “In order to focus on the present, we must give up, at least temporarily, our attachment to our desired goal. If we don’t give up our attachment to the goal, we cannot be in the present because we are thinking about something that hasn’t occurred yet: the goal….When you shift your goal from the product you are trying to achieve to the process of achieving it, a wonderful phenomenon occurs: all pressure drops away. This happens because, when your goal is to pay attention to only what you are doing right now, as long as you are doing just that, you are reaching your goal in each and every moment.”

And, “the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease.”

Glenn Kurtz has this gem: “I gradually understood that I wasn’t practicing to play the guitar, but playing the guitar to learn about practicing.”

Peace 😊

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