What does it mean to be a good practitioner?
It is a question i often ask myself, because i really want to be one. I want to, out of respect to my teachers, out of respect for people who will come to study from me, out of respect to the practice and to myself. I have learned that in anything you do, being a good practitioner must be a main priority, everything else comes from there. It is especially relevant if you want to become a good teacher.
The main thing i have realised is that whatever it is that you do, hard work holds your practice together. Probably one of the most valuable things i have ever heard is "just do the fucking work". As simple as that. There is no mystery in it, neither it is something new, but regardless, this is the last thing people are willing to do. The simple rule of showing up and giving your best to whatever is in front of you never fails in the long run, yet it has to be repeated over and over again. you can apply this to anything. John Frusciante became one of the best guitar players of all time cause he played guitar for 15 hours every day; Tolstoy wrote tonnes of short novels before he got to create his masterpieces and cirque du soleil artists are not some magical elves - they are the people who were there all day every day when nobody else wanted to be. It is not a question of talent, it is a question of commitment. Doing boring, repetitive things over and over again is what builds greatness. Settling for mediocrity is dangerous, it puts you in a box you will never escape. But what it takes is just an iron ass, as we say in Russia, - which basically means the ability to sit and do all the work that needs to be done. Nothing will ever beat experience, and the only way to build it is through constant exposure to whatever it is that you are doing.
Saying this, don't desregard theoretical knowledge. Because another crucial thing that makes a good practitioner is curiousity. To be really curious you have to be willing to go over the layers of information you are presented with, be willing to test that information and approach it from different angles. Going deeper and constantly questioning whether your current knowledge is correct, is an important engine for development. It gives depth to you, your knowledge and your practice. Knowledge is power and making mistakes on the way to aquiring it is a great way to broaden your horizon, so don't be afraid of that either. Always remember that there is always more that we don't know than that which we do. And even more of what we don't even know we don't know.
Choose something, stick to it and keep turning it around until you can say you really understand it. There is a big problem with our inability to stick to one direction for a long period - people are looking for new stimuli all the time, constantly overloading themselves with information that past a certain line loses its value. You can't understand things in depth if you jump from one thing to another without any order. Look at it, investigate it, read about it. Stick to one thing for a while - it will teach you a lot.
Listening and paying attention to the detail is a rarity these days, especially having all this technology around that uses our attention as currency. Any kind of practice becomes empty if you think about laundry while performing it. We can think without acting, act without thinking, act while thinking about that act, and act while thinking about something else, but being a good practitioner means paying attention to everything in the practice all the time, every time. Be excited about the most boring things, bring excitement there - it enriches you on every level. It has been proven scientifically that paying attention to whatever it is that you are doing induces the biggest changes in your brain. Do not neglect it, be there at every moment - in reality there is nothing else you really possess.
These are just some general things i wanted to emphasise, the ones that i see as the most important and strangely the most neglected. It has become clear to me that this is what i want to prioritize the most - being a good practitioner. "A craftsman's way" as Ido Portal says. I started to apply it to my movement practice but then it spilled into everything else i do and gave it a better texture. What it does is kick you into being conscious about things around you and fills life with meaning. It teaches you ethics and gives your achievments a different value. Because at the end of the day whatever it is that you are dedicating yourself to, you want it to become an overall human practice, something that fulfills you on a higher level. And if you are a shitty practitioner in whatever it is that you do, well, what kind of a human do you expect to be?