A Model of Practice

Models are an abstraction of reality.  A model well made can help us understand how the thing modeled works, or how things modeled work together, or provide us with a lab for experimenting or practicing new things without real world consequences.

A model can be as simple as a thought experiment, such as Einstein chasing a beam of light.  Or it can be as complicated as the computational models used for whole genome shotgun sequencing.

What does this have to do with practice?

Models help us understand things, especially with regard to inputs and outputs, with cause and effect, with observation and inference.

Building a good model requires careful observation.  Careful observation involves using as many of the senses as possible, measuring the inputs and outputs, describing qualities, and noticing changes.

The flight simulators used by the military and airlines are nothing but carefully designed models that replicate the cockpit experience of flying as closely as possible.

We can put these ideas to work in our own practice.  Consider recording the time you begin practice, and the time you stop.  Were there any distractions?  Was there any noticeable progress?  Try to describe the experience as closely as possible.  What kept you from practice?  What structures could you put in place to make avoiding practice more difficult?

Are you more likely to practice if you do it first thing in the morning, or as soon as you get home from work?  Are there certain rituals you can invoke that prepare your mind and body for practice?  If a practice goes particularly well, or poorly, get out your practice journal and try to describe what was different.

Try to write a succinct statement of what a perfect practice looks like and feels like.  Include any rituals of approach, of warming up, of cooling down, and writing down any insights gained from your practice.

Build a flight simulator of your own.

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