The Art of Learning - Josh Waitzkin
I loved this book. Josh Waitzkin became a champion in both chess and Tai Chi push hands. These seemingly differnt worlds are blended as he discusses the value and practice of deep mental focus. He seems to have such a purile and gleeful approach to life and focus. Do what you love, and give it your all. When you work, keep 100% focused, but then take time to rest, recover and go on fishing trips with your dad. Its easy to imagine the benefits of becoming the best at something, and its inspiring to get a glimpse of the mind of someone who has done it repeatedly.
In my experience, successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more than the immediate trophies and glory.
I was a competitor who knew winning and losing and the hair’s breadth between. My rivals didn’t care about reputation—they just wanted to crush me and I had to keep it real.
The key to this process is understanding that the conscious mind, for all its magnificence, can only take in and work with a certain limited amount of information in a unit of time—envision that capacity as one page on your computer screen.
In the absence of continual external reinforcement, we must be our own monitor, and quality of presence is often the best gauge. We cannot expect to touch excellence if “going through the motions” is the norm of our lives. On the other hand, if deep, fluid presence becomes second nature, then life, art, and learning take on a richness that will continually surprise and delight.
Those who excel are those who maximize each moment’s creative potential—for these masters of living, presence to the day-to-day learning process is akin to that purity of focus others dream of achieving in rare climactic moments when everything is on the line.
I believe an appreciation for simplicity, the everyday—the ability to dive deeply into the banal and discover life’s hidden richness—is where success, let alone happiness, emerges.
For beginners, this meditation may seem frustrating because they notice their minds racing all over the place and feel that they are doing badly; but that is not the case. The return to breath is the key to this form of meditation. There is no doing badly or well, just being with your breath, releasing your thoughts when you notice them, and coming back to breath. I highly recommend such techniques. Not only is the return to breath a glimmer of the zone—a moment of undistracted presence—but the ebb and flow of the experience is another form of stress and recovery training.
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