On Practice

Things have been quiet here on the OmChantress blog because I've mostly been keeping my head down and focusing on my own work.  Last weekend I was in Ocean City at Art of the Belly.  I performed with Transcendence Tribal and Verve Tribal (video coming soon).  While I was there I took some belly dance workshops with Jill Parker and for the first time in a long while I was able to see some clear benefits to my regular practice.

As part of my preparation for the next phase of 8 Elements dance intensive with Rachel Brice, I have been tirelessly drilling fundamental hipwork.  A basic standing shimmy, hips on the up and on the down, 3/4 shimmy on the up and the down, plus at least additional one isolation with a simple foot pattern.  Now if you're not a belly dancer, that probably means nothing to you, but the point is, it's the very basics.  Simple. Easy. It takes fifteen minutes. Every day.  I had gotten to the point recently where I was starting to wonder: is this doing anything for me?  But I kept at it because I trust my teacher to tell me what's good for me.  When I was at the workshops this weekend, I had to speed up my hipwork, add variations, and learn more complex combinations and I was able to learn way faster than I ever had before.  It was remarkable!  I have always felt like a "slow learner" when it comes to new movements, but I was totally on it this weekend!  What a great feeling.  I have finally gotten to a point where I have a vocabulary of fundamental movements so engrained in my body and brain that they come automatically.  I don't have to think about that stuff, and so when I'm learning something new, I can just focus on what's new and build on the foundation I've already established through practice.

Many people, even at the beginning, get hung up on "advancing" to the next thing, and I'm certainly guilty of this myself in many, many ways.  I'm sharing this experience with you so that you have an example of why the fundamentals are important, not just in dance, but in yoga too.  I'm not trying to hold anyone back from advancing, whatever that might mean, to you. I'm just suggesting that you also keep up your practice of the basics.  If you continue to revisit basic movement patterns, even for only fifteen minutes at a time, you will be able to engrain healthy, effective habits that will build the foundation of a more advanced practice.  If this seems boring to you, give what you are doing even more attention.  Get super interested in the details of what you are experiencing.  Where are you feeling the work? How is your breathing? Your energy level? Does it feel any different than yesterday?  If you can stay curious about your practice, it will never get boring.  Same with meditation.  The more you do it, it will come with greater ease, even if on a day-to-day basis it may feel like you're not making any progress.  You are.  Stick with it.