Imperfect practice

I’ve been taking violin lessons for almost a year now. Like yoga, it’s a pursuit that doesn’t have a box to check off when you’re finished, because you’re never done learning it. I like that. I need that. It’s an ongoing lesson in non-attachment, which doesn’t come easy in our culture.

That said, I still seem to have expectations. In a perfect world, I would practice my violin with a light and lovely, ethereal touch (vs. any sort of screaming cat noise) and would then float onto my yoga mat for the perfect blend of effort and ease, a moving, breathing example of sthira sukham asanam. Every day.

I also seem to have an attachment to time that is tough to shake. I must practice violin for X minutes, or there won’t be any benefits to be had. Same deal with yoga. But those days where I have the time and headspace for the pursuit of such perfection are few and far between. So, I’ve had to talk myself into busting out of the all-or-nothing approach. Convince myself that a little is better than nothing. And I’ve discovered that some of my best practices, both violin and yoga, have been squeezed out of spaces where there didn’t appear to be room for anything beautiful to happen. Imagine that.

My violin teacher tells me that even thinking about the violin counts as practice. Really? I would venture then that thinking about yoga also counts as practice. A valuable lesson from these two practices has been that I need to expand my definition of the word itself. And that sometimes, imperfect practice actually becomes perfect. Namaste.