You can open the Chinese book of changes, the I Ching,Â to just about any page and find the advice â€” “perseverance furthers”. I think anyone with a regular practice, be it martial arts, meditation, sobriety, or playing the guitar, has discovered the benefits, skills and joy, as well as, the frustration, disappointment, and boredom of preserving in that work.
At one of the first summer push hands camps I attended, I bought a tee-shirt that read across the frontâ€¦
“No, No, no, no, uhm,
er… no, no, almost, no, no, ah, no….
ok, let’s try something new”.
Now, this where we can misunderstand each other and be in danger of giving and getting a bad lesson. Please hear me when I say, Iâ€™m not talking about the “NO means NO” statement, or the “NO is a complete sentence” type of No. When I hear or say that kind of NO – back off, we are done.
What Iâ€™m talking about is the instruction, NO. â€œNo, your other left footâ€ or â€œno you are close to understanding, butâ€¦ thatâ€™s not it.â€ That type of no. The kind of no we hear from our teacher. The teacher, friend or sponsor who has our best interest at heart.
This is the kind of NO that will continue the conversation and should encourage our progress. It can be frustrating, but if resolution and commitment are involved, NO, will help us to look in different directions; give us permission to try another way. And then, with perseveranceâ€¦ we have movement; our understanding furthers.
When we are open to hearing, NO in this context, it can help facilitate a shift. Being told, thatâ€™s not sticking, not listening, not trusting structure, can be just the irritation, er… I mean instruction, we need to help us figure out what sticking, listening or structure is.
Learning a new skill or a new way of life is hard. What seems easier, is our ability to find a reason to give up, quit or worse we find an excuse to relapse. It can be easy to fall back into what is familiar even if it doesnâ€™t serve us. Some days, the No’s are too loud and the, “Yes! That’s it!”, is too elusive.
So, I come back to perseverance furthers. For me, the hardest part of any practice is showing up, day after day, move after move, no after no.
I like to think my role as a teacher, is to guide others to discover what they already know. To help in the process of peeling away layers of doubt, stress, and fear and creating space to experience the “yes” place in life. Often we find this “yes” place by experiencing what it isn’t.
When your teacher tells you, “No, that’s not it,” please know you are on the right path!