Imagine yourself as a gardener and your craft as a plant. What does it take for a flower to bloom? First, it takes some time. Second, a gardener must take action by watering the soil and removing weeds. Third, a gardener must pay attention to her actions in order not to over-water the plant. Finally, a gardener must not get attached to the results of her labor but do her best for the plant.
We can use the same metaphor in mastering any craft. So whether you are trying to learn how to play piano, train a new puppy or learn a new language, the following four pillars can aid you in your journey.
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2) Non-Interruption or Sustained Attention.
I often talk about “sustained attention” since it is the ultimate goal of yoga. But also, the opposite of a sustained attention state is a scattered-brain state. In fact, I am pretty good at the latter.
The attentive mind state is when we get into the flow. The latter (scattered-brain) is when dreadful things happen. For instance, I am embarrassed to admit that I drove through the garage door during one of my scattered-brain moments. Not to mention overeating, falling, and losing things.
Interestingly, I just listened to Cals Newport’s interview with James Altucher, two of my favorite authors.
Here, Cal explained the phenomenon of “attention residue.” If you switch your attention from one target to another, the original target will leave a residue for a very long time. For example, writing deep and do a quick check of your email for 30 seconds. You see an email that you need to get into. And then you switch attention to writing. That 30-seconds check will be bouncing in your head for 10 to 20 minutes, the lab experiments show. During that time, your cognitive capacity will be lost. In other words, multi-tasking puts you into a state of continual reduced cognitive capacity. Constantly checking your phone and social media is equivalent to taking a drug that makes you dumber.
3) Take Action.
4) Non-Attachment to Results.
Mastery of the mind comes from practice and non-attachment.
Yoga Sutras 1.12
Personally, I am a result-driven individual. So when I first heard about the concept of non-attachment, I thought it was a bunch of “new-age” rubbish. However, it began to make sense as I learned to “focus on action with non-attachment to results.”
For instance, I enjoy the action of writing. So I spend lots of time creating content, researching the subject I am writing about, and editing. Then, of course, I love when my readers provide positive feedback and when new folks subscribe. But, even if no one reads my work, I still love the process and I always do my absolute best. The results of my labor, however, are not my primary focus.
To achieve mastery in your craft, spend some uninterrupted and quality time with it, take action, pay attention, and don’t worry about the results!
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