Booknotes: The Practicing Mind

Booknotes: The Practicing Mind

Diana (1/2 of Craftedvan) here with notes from The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner. This was such a lovely read because it was short yet shared so many useful points on how we can focus on practicing and what can be achieved if we were to focus on the process and not the the product of something.

"Living life by the moment" was a quote that I've sworn by most of my life. I had it written on the walls of my room and doodled over any spot I had to doodle it onto. But as the years passed, I found it harder and harder to focus on the present. Life gets more complicated and it's easy to get lost in our thoughts. I've always felt the magic though when I did truly let myself stay present and block out the worries of the past or future. Through this book, I found encouragement to try things even if I may be bad at it as there is only one way to get better! I was reminded of it's importance as well as given tips on how to get into that state. Many people have termed it as flow stateThe magical state in which nothing except for what you're doing in that current moment matters. I also sometimes find that I get quite intimidated by learning something new (or even doing something I may have tried in the past) because I fear being bad at it. Through practicing this, we can truly learn, develop our skills, not be afraid to try new things, and overall achieve true inner peace and contentment. 

Below are some notes from the book:

In order to reach true inner peace and contentment, we must master the skill of finding joy in the process of achieving instead of having through:

• Self Discipline • Focus • Patience • Self-awareness 

The practicing mind is:

• Present, lazer-like, and has pinpoint focus and accuracy

• Is calm and free of anxiety

• Is in the moment

• no wasted motion physically or mentally 

Be aware, take control and develop that ability to get lost in the process.

When we think about how we built craftedvan, we followed this practice without even realizing. We stayed present and focused on what we loved doing in that moment, yet we did also always have our mind set on our next goal we wanted to achieve. The magic around crafting is being able to be fully present. It's almost meditative because you're just creating. Sometimes it almost even feels like an escape from life but through that, we were able to really grow and enjoy every step along the way too!

When you focus on the process, the product takes care of itself.
If we were to focus on the product, we often get caught up in our own judgement, anxiety, expectations and desire for perfection. 

We have a tendency to judge ourselves and constantly compare one thing to another. We need to remember that there is no end point to perfection, because it is forever changing. Our goals will continue to change as we reach the ones we set and aim for the next. Use our goals as a way to steer where we're going but not as an indicator of how we're doing. Or else we will get discouraged and give up.

For anything that is hard to do:
Get yourself to do it for half an hour, fully focused, present and process oriented. Do not think of anything else or even expect to enjoy it, just do it. By focusing on just that and nothing else, we are able to achieve our task with less effort or negative emotion. If we continue to do this, our worries disappear and we begin to develop habits that make whatever it is we are doing, easier.  

Creating the Habits we Desire by being aware
To gain control, we need to be aware of what we are doing and thinking. Catch ourselves and get ahead of our emotions by observing our thoughts

Gaining Patience and getting rid of our worries
1. Stay in the present
2. Understanding and accepting that there is no such thing as reaching perfection in anything because perfection is always evolving

When you let go of your attachment to the object you desire and make your desire the experience of staying focused, you fulfill that desire in every moment. 

In the end, our main goal should be learning.

The four "S" words
Simplify, Small, Short, Slow - Break down tasks into components, small sections, short periods of time, and at a pace where you can pay attention to what you're doing. This allows us to lose sense of time and have all our energy go into what we're working on.

Equanimity
Equanimity = Even-temperness and calmness. Undisturbed by moment-to-moment ups and downs and is the art of non-judgement

How do we reach that? by separating our true self from our ego and not allowing ourselves to be under the influence of our emotions or unconscious judgement making.

Do, Observe, Correct (DOC)
Whatever we do focus on "Do, Observe, Correct" - no emotion, no judgement, simple, stress-free. Just focus on the task at hand and observe how you can alter to do it better, do not let yourself get caught up with anything beyond that.

The more we practice, the easier things will get and we'd have developed habits and skill that will bring us towards our goals.

Teach and Learn from Children and Others
Children have mastered the art of being present. They don't think too far ahead because they don't have to. How can we learn from them? And how can we learn from each other?

Live every moment to the fullest
Experience life as it really is and build this mindset as a habit. That way we can rid ourselves of our worries (which is often just wasted effort), and live life to it's fullest!

Overall this was such a great read because it truly brings our focus back to the joy of learning. Often times when we try or learn something new, we get so caught up with wanting to be the best at it, forgetting that all to get better is to practice and not worry about trying to be the best. It is through practice that we get better at whatever it is we are learning! The only way to learn is to do!

Book review by: Diana
Bookmark of choice: Bowling. I read it with the bowling bookmark because I just miss bowling so much. Plus he's one of my favourite bookmarks that doesn't get to step into the spotlight much! 
Book recommended by: Kathrene from The Flourishry

Comment 1

Kathrene on

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH as it’s so simple but profound. Amazing summary, and hope others enjoy this just as much!

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