What You See… Is What You’ll Be
I have talked before about how aspiring to the wise attitude of a seasoned farmer is the way to go with approaching guitar practice (or any other practice really) and how getting ourselves to the skill level that we want is really just a matter of planting and watering seeds, allowing time to bring the result to us, provided we actually plant seeds properly and consistently. It’s a really useful attitude to try and adopt because it allows us to place a big ‘X’ on where the real treasure lies!
Focusing in on this matter of planting and watering seeds, what does it mean to do this with our guitar practice?
What are the seeds? And what does watering them even look like?…
The seeds we plant are really the intentions or commands we send to our hands and body that essentially carry the message ‘do this’. ‘This’ is some sort of goal that we can see in our mind that we want our body to try and replicate. The repeating of these intentions is what we call practice and hopefully what follows is that our bodies attempt to behave in a new way- according to exactly the commands we send (sorry if this is really obvious but having worked with a lot of people in practice mode by now, I’ve seen that there can be huge differences between people and their ability to get their minds or bodies to learn a new behaviour. I suspect one major cause is just not realising how this works and even more importantly, how this process of learning can be improved!)
So, we can make a logical assumption based on this description of practice:
Our bodies will never learn something new if we can’t see it in our mind first. The body follows what you see in your mind.
The whole process of practice is about sending instructions to go beyond what we can already do. If you remember these two things before every time you sit down to practice guitar, even if it’s for 5 minutes, your playing will grow and grow:
1) What you see is what you’ll be… literally
2) Practice should always be an attempt to go beyond what you are currently conditioned to do.
The big ‘X’ we should draw is actually right here in our heads! In what we see in our mind when we send the command for our body to improve at something. The more clearly you ‘see’ the action you’d like to perform, the more precisely your brain is laying down appropriate neurons. And here’s another fantastic piece of news:
Repeated intentions lead to repeated actions and if they are repeated enough times, the actions become automatic.
So if you’d like to know in advance what kind of guitar player you are becoming, guess what? You can tell right now. Just examine the intentions that you are holding next time you are sitting down with your guitar and there it will be… There’s the vision your body is trying to make happen.
So what happens when we start to be more adventurous with the commands we send? Our playing starts to respond… What if we are more specific, aiming for perfection with everything we do? Our bodies perform music closer and closer to ‘perfect’… And the more we do this, the more automatically we can play that way until you can literally sit down with your guitar and listen while your hands play you some music.
In the next article I’ll talk about HOW to practice more precisely and we can look at a few examples. For now, just keep in mind how literally true this statement is:
What You See is What You’ll Be.
I’d love to hear how you go with this, especially if anyone catches themselves practicing and notices firstly, what they are telling their body to do and secondly, if they can think of a way to be more clear, more precise, more daring etc with how they are practicing. Let me know how you go.