practicing in public

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 3/18/2019

Last night was one of those nights when ideas kept me up late.

I love nights like that.

The central thing that became clear to me is that what I’m doing is practicing in public.

(I made some videos on Instagram, at least one of which I tagged #publicpractice – and there will be more).

This daily writing is already me doing that.

Now, I’m planning to more regularly share videos online of myself making my music. The crucial thing is that I’m going to decide when I want to post music, then record it – not the other way around.

I’ve made many videos like that:

I feel a potential in my body to make some music worth sharing with the world and I hit the “record” button. Then I do something. Then I decide whether or not it feels safe to actually send it out there.

When I do this, nine times out of ten, I am performing.

I realize that hitting “record” with the intent to publish – and then not performing is going to feel unnatural a lot of the time. But that’s still the intention.

That’s why the first thing I did last night was to write the caption to accompany the video – before I knew how the music was actually going to come out.

Sure, I’d love it if you watch the video, but there is something more important that I am trying to get across here. 

It’s this:

I’m about to start running an online program called ¡Reimagine Yourself!, starting March 25.

My program will unambiguously invite all participants to examine themselves with the mindset that transformation is possible if that is what they really want it.

(And if they don’t want it, they won’t get it. That’s pretty simple!).

I realized that if I don’t publicly demonstrate that I am after exactly the same thing in my own life, who would want to stick their neck out like that when I suggested it?

So, on a basic level, this is just about accountability.

But there’s something deeper, something that I’ve been chewing on for at least a couple of decades now.

It’s the difference – in every moment of our lives – between practice, rehearsal, and performance.

Imagine you are going to see a friend later today. Which of those three categories do you think that conversation will fall into. If you were to set an intention for that conversation, which of the three would you choose?

When you imagine the conversation, you are actually already in the rehearsal mode. After all, we all know that rehearsal happens before the “real thing”, and if you are not actually in the company of your friend right now, all you could really be doing is rehearsing.

But, if you are rehearsing for this afternoon’s conversation, are you actually present to what is happening right here and now?

But let’s say you’re with the friend:

Are you conducting this conversation as performance or practice?

I’ll let you think about how you would distinguish between the two and supply your own definition.

But I’ll get back to why I’m deliberately practicing in public:

It’s pretty simple. I think that most of us perform way too much and practice way too little.

We like to give ourselves the illusion that we’re delivering the final draft when everyone can clearly see that we aren’t (and if we don’t see it ourselves, we’ll realize soon the performance is over).

I would rather encourage more practice in the world.

I’m not saying this to promote some fake idea about “authenticity.”

What I’m interested in is how we are more open for change when we practice, when we set an intention for our activity that doesn’t revolve around trying to achieve.

That’s the basic idea every time we lie on the floor to practice Awareness Through Movement, as we will do throughout the year during the ¡Reimagine Yourself! classes.

But Feldenkrais practice, like yoga practice, martial arts practice, meditation, and many other practices aimed at growth and deeper self-knowing, tend to be practiced mostly outside of the public view.

There is a very good reason for that. We need to feel safe in order to open ourselves to those experiences of self-examination.

I love practicing alone in quiet spaces, and I know I always will. But I’m coming to see that there is a definite limit to what you can learn about yourself if you only practice in private.

Practicing in public is harder because you know people can see you. You don’t feel as safe – and actually, you aren’t.

But wouldn’t it be nice to increasingly conquer more safety in the world wherever and with whomever you may be? You can practice that.

Public practice will not be the start of the ¡Reimagine Yourself! program.

The first module is explicitly internal. It’s all about Tapping Deep Body Wisdom. 

(That’s also the title of a workshop I’m offering next weekend in Gaithersburg, MD).

In other words, we will begin by learning to deeply know ourselves in the safety of our own space. Because feeling safety out in the world can’t happen if we don’t first understand how to practice listening and dialoguing with ourselves.

At the same, class discussion will immediately begin the process of sharing experiences out loud and feeling the tension of not knowing whether our unique expression will be met with rejection or connection.

This won’t be because I will do anything special.

It will simply be because this is the tension that we experience every single time we meet the world.

The only thing I’m adding is to point out that this is happening and it’s something we can practice in order to feel more comfortable in our own skin as we do so. And we’ll do it together.

This is why I’m committing to public practice throughout 2019.

It will take many forms, but sharing my music is particularly potent for me personally because it has been at the core of my identity for over four decades, but I have mostly kept it in the dark where the world couldn’t see it.

But anytime you hide part of yourself – perhaps because you fear rejection – you also cancel the possibility that this unique part of you could be the basis for connection with the people out there who are ready to recognize its beauty.

Not everyone will, of course.

Which means that the people best equipped to love you might never find out that you exist.

Or maybe they know you already, but if you never give them the opportunity to recognize the places where you would naturally resonate together, you will always have to strike those chords alone.

Is that what you want?

Hiding can give some safety, but it’s the lonely kind. I prefer the risk of showing who I am in order to conquer the deeper safety of connection with the people I was meant to connect with.

That’s why I believe in practice.


How do rehearsal, performance and practice show up in your life?

Would you like to bring more intention to these qualities of how you show up in the world?

This is what my 2019 online program ¡Reimagine Yourself! is all about: 

How to make your movement practice into a vehicle for rewriting the story of how you move through the world.

To learn more about ¡Reimagine Yourself!, click here

To participate in a free Awareness Through Movement class on Thursday March 21 at 2pm EST, click here


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