In high school, I had a trumpet instructor who told me once that, in terms of conditioning, every day I didn’t practice would cost me three days of practice. They say similar things about running, about learning a language, anything really. I’m currently teaching myself to play guitar, and I am discovering that if I don’t practice every day, the muscle memory doesn’t gel the way it should.
When I do practice every day, however, I notice that even if I’m struggling with a lesson during my session, somehow, the next day, that lesson has just suddenly fallen into place. My fingers remember where to go.
I’ve been thinking about how this relates to meditation. During our ten minutes, or twenty minutes, or however long, we work to make our mind concentrate on the Two Powers, or a single concept, or whatever our focus is that day. But in between practice sessions, the things we focused on or the lessons we learned during the practice time are still there in our minds, developing a structure beneath the surface of our thoughts, changing the way we see the world.
I’ve noticed, particularly this past week, that suddenly I’m able to concentrate much more easily. When writing, I can clear my mind of the thoughts that belong to me and allow only the character’s thoughts to have a voice on the page. When I want to offer thanks to a spirit or a god, I can brush away my other concerns and focus on a spiritual offering.
I’m beginning to understand what it means to have mental discipline.