practice and all is coming

Practice makes progress, no matter how you look at it.

Practice makes progress, no matter how you look at it.

"Practice and all is coming." That's what Sri K. Pattabhi Jois would tell his students to encourage them on the path of yoga. I recalled the quote while working on my knitting the other day, as I practiced the lace stitches of my shawl (that I frogged once before). Although Jois was referring to yoga as the 'practice' in his quote, I like to think it's interchangeable depending on what one enjoys doing - knitting as a practice? Yes! Musical instrument? Absolutely! Sport? Sure! 

So what's the 'all' that is coming? Let's take a guess, shall we?

All is Coming: Fame? Glory? Recognition?  

Although it's unlikely that Jois's meant fame and glory is forthcoming, given the teachings of yoga, recognition for your art is definitely a possibility of what may result from committed practice.

Consider Olympic athletes. They practice their sport with the utmost dedication. In fact, they basically devote their lives to their practice. By showcasing their sport on the world's stage at the Olympics, there is certainly an aspect of fame and glory that stems from all of their hard work. So it's true, that for some, a dedicated practice produces fame, glory and recognition. 

I don't think fame, glory and recognition are a vain impetus for practice! These attributes can give meaning, propel one to work harder, and help one find more joy in practice and achievement. Joyfully committing 100% to practice can be very fulfilling, and why not get some recognition while you're at it, right?

All is Coming: Mastery?

That being said, some don't practice for the end result of fame, glory and/or recognition. So, then, perhaps the 'all' that is coming from practice for these people could mean 'mastery.' It's a logical inference, right? The more one practices something, the more skilled he or she becomes, and eventually one is considered to have mastered the practice. 

Pop culture backs this theory up. In his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell talks frequently about the 10,000 hour rule. Basically, it's posited that, after practicing something for 10,000 hours, one reaches a level of exquisite skill, or what we're calling mastery. (For those who are keen to know, Gladwell states that 10,000 hours equates to 20 hours a week for 10 years - that's actually 10,400 hours, so I guess one can take 400 hours off in the course of those 10 years..)
Now, I have dedicated countless hours studying and practicing yoga, but I don't feel anywhere near mastery. And as far as my other practice, stitchwork? I am much newer to the game and consider myself an eager beginner. Will I ever get to 10,000 hours in either practice? Maybe. Will I then consider myself a master? Probably not. I will always consider that there's more to learn.

In my eyes, mastery is akin to the 'destination,' in the quote - "happiness is a journey, not a destination." Sure, mastery can be the end goal however, the true enjoyment of practice reveals itself along the way. 

All is Coming: Life?

What if the 'all' that is coming means life? Plain and simple. The highs and lows, the ups and downs, the successes and failures - all of it. But doesn't that happen regardless of practice, you may be asking? And yes, despite whether or not you devote your time and energy to practice, life will happen, that is assured. 

But in this speculation, practice is the dependable constant in life. So that, regardless of what life hands you, you will have the constancy from your practice to be able to face it. When things are going great, you can celebrate through the energy that comes from your practice. And when things are not so great, your practice can provide solace, a safe, reliable place to find strength and peaceful comfort. 

A longer version of the quote 'practice, and all is coming,' could be something like: 'be continually committed to your practice, whatever that may be. Know that life will happen. Some days it will be easy to practice, and you will engage with joy and gratitude. Know too, that some days it will be extremely difficult to gracefully accept what life hands you, but your practice will always be there to support you. The hours you spend in practice are never wasted, for they teach lessons far beyond the advancement of your skills. It is these lessons - the ones gained from faithful practice - that will serve you well on your life's journey. And so, in this spirit, practice, and know that all is coming, and you'll be all the more prepared to accept it and embrace it.' 

What do you think? What is forthcoming through practice? Why do you keep returning to your practice? Consider taking some time today to reflect what it is about your practice that keeps you motivated and encouraged to return to it time after time. My guess is that you'll find a little spark of gratitude for your practice and maybe a new perspective!