In B.K.S Iyengar’s Light on Life, he mentions the four different levels of practice:
1) Mild Practice: attending a class once a week and getting distracted from doing a practice at home. This level of practice is not bad or wrong, it will just not include big rewards. Some people have to stay at this level because of other things they have in their agendas.
2) Average Practice: increasing our application and devoting more time and effort. This level of practice promises greater results, although the practice is not always consistent. However, the practitioner becomes more aware of “fibre and sinew, liver stretch (as in back bends), and heart’s repose.
3) Determined and Intense: This level of practice allows the practitioner to refine their awareness and become more sensitive to the subtleties within their bodies.
4) Total Investment: This level of practice is characterized as “relentless, inexorable and a total investment of oneself in practice.” Over time this and as life’s demands shift and change in one’s lifetime, this level can become attainable.
As Westerners, we could typically berate ourselves for not being at the third or fourth level at this time in our lives. Heck, I teach yoga and I’m not even at the third level. In fact, last night I was awake for and hour and a half because I felt guilty for not going to a yoga studio in over a week. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.
What does this have to do with writing you ask? Writing, like yoga, is a DISCIPLINE. Writing can be looked at from the same levels of practice. How often are you writing a week? If you aren’t able to write for twenty minutes (or whatever daily goal you set for yourself) one day, do you write for forty the next day? Are you telling everyone you are a writer, but only writing when the inspiration hits you?
I am at the place in my life, with little kids and self-employment, where I have trouble fitting in when I can brush my teeth, let alone being at the “total investment” level. Yoga asana practice tends to fall to the wayside sometimes, but meditation and writing are two things I ensure I squeeze in everyday. I wouldn’t even consider myself at the “determined and intense” phase due to my lifestyle and this is OK! I AM STILL A GOOD PERSON! It may take me longer to do a head stand in the middle of the room and publishing a book may be a five to ten-year plan, but I do what I can and I pat myself on the back for still pulling out the pen and rolling out the mat.
I think if we beat ourselves up for the should’s a little less frequently we can see the magic and miracles in these types of practice. Pick up your pen and congratulate yourself for taking the step to look at the blank page today!