Svadyaya (Self-Study) and Practice

In April, I’ll be heading to Portland to study and test in the first course of Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements training for bellydancers.  This is one part of upping my game in bellydance.  In fact, I already blogged about how I planned to intensify my home practice to prepare.  Still, I felt the need to go to Belladonna’s Practical Magic Workshop, which was all about creating a home practice.  It was a great workshop, and she provided a huge amount of resources and worksheets that are effective tools for building a practice system.  Many of the techniques she suggested are things that I have already implemented in my own yoga, dance, and meditation practice at some point.  As I sat and wrote down how much time I invested in practice, I started to feel a little sheepish.  I actually do not need to learn how to practice more.  I practice up to two hours per day Monday through Friday.  That does not include the classes I teach and attend, troupe rehearsals, or the time I spend in meditation, reading about yoga/dance, going to performances, or other kinds of enrichment activities.  That is way more time than many people who are struggling to squeeze in five or ten minutes after work between classes.  I am already at an advantage because the work I do is the area of my passion.  I’m incredibly fortunate because I have the time, resources and energy to continue working towards my dreams.  Wow, what a realization.

Turns out I need to be nicer to myself.  Like, in every way possible.  I’ve been working with Rod Stryker’s The Four Desires over the past several months, and through one of the recent exercises, I realized that I have this never-ending underlying dialogue that says, “I must do this perfectly.”  This is such a recent discovery for me that I can’t even define what “perfect” could mean, only that it’s a ridiculous and unnecessary non-standard I am imposing on myself.  This is one more area of darkness where I need to shine the light this year.  One of the things that Bella said in her workshop was “Look at what you’re accomplishing, not at what you’re not doing.”  I’ve been looking at the not-doing.  I haven’t done ALL of the choreographies on RB’s DVDs!  How long have I been holding that one against myself? Since October? Longer?  I think it’s time I let that go.  Maybe I’ll still do it, maybe not.  If I decide it’s important, I will.  One of the solutions Bella offered to this issue is to journal your practice.  Sounds obvious, perhaps, but it’s something that I haven’t been doing.  My practice is an endless to-do list, but I have never taken the time to reflect on my progress or acknowledge day by day my accomplishments.  I think applying her suggested journaling techniques will be a huge help, not just for boosting my confidence about my progress and hard work, but also for planning and prioritizing future practices over the short and long term.  I feel like a huge burden has been lifted already, and I haven’t even cracked open a fresh journal yet!