Insights: Mastering Internal Practice

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Growing up I was told to practice, practice, practice, be it the piano or my vocabulary words or basketball.

Of course, being a child, I would roll my eyes and sigh at not wanting to practice. I wanted to be successful without having to practice; I wanted them to just come naturally.

How many of us really like practicing anyway? I’m sure I am not the only one who resists this. I still do not like hearing the quote “practice makes perfect.”

Now as an adult, I realize the importance of practice, not just in the context of something intellectual or physical, but also in our own personal growth.

In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brene Brown eloquently states that “Practicing courage, compassion, and connection in our daily lives is how we cultivate worthiness. The key word is practice. Mary Daly, a theologian, writes, ‘you learn courage by couraging.’ The same is true for compassion and connection. We invite compassion into our lives when we act compassionately toward ourselves and others, and we feel connected in our lives when we reach out and connect.”

We have to act courageously or compassionately, even when it feels uncomfortable. These virtues also have to feel true to who we are even when it is difficult. We have to hold a sense of purpose even when it is hard to see what it working. It’s not an easy feat to practice something that is not tangible and the reward not something you can measure. It takes courage to practice something that is not measurable.

We grow up in a society that is all about a visible result. Yet, as Brene Brown states, mastering what has depth of meaning, courage, compassion, and connection creates a profound life that has meaning.

So the question has to be asked: how do we practice courage, compassion and connection?

I have come up with an acronym for how to practice these traits.

P = patience. Do not give up. Keep going even when you may not notice any differences in your life.

R = repeat. Repeat what you are practicing every day.

A = attitude. Your attitude is going to make or break you being successful, so keep it positive even when it is a struggle.

C = care. Care about what you are practicing; make sure it has meaning to you.

T = tenacity. Keep going; keep practicing.

I = identify. Identify what is important to you and why you are holding these traits so you will stay motivated.

C = calm. Take time daily to breathe and meditate on these traits.

E = enjoy. Enjoy the journey. The rewards will come, although subtle at times. You will find a sense of peace, joy and a profound way of being in the world when you PRACTICE courage, compassion and connection.

Courage helps you move your life forward beyond fear. Compassion helps you live with empathy towards yourself and others, creating a sense of belonging and connection. Connection is why we are here on this earth. We are biologically and spiritually built to connect. And for a good connection to happen, we need compassion and courage.

So I leave you with that wonderful word that we all learned so early on in our lives, one that we may have learned to accomplish things externally, but now I want you to practice internally so your journey has even more meaning.

So as much as I did not like being told to practice as a child, as an adult I am practicing courage, compassion and connection every day.

Remember the words of author Grace Speare: “Only one thing registers on the subconscious mind: repetitive application-practice. What you practice is what you manifest.”

Contact Dr. Zavala at or [email protected]

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