A couple weeks ago I had this brilliant idea to buy a frisbee. In my mind I envisioned myself tossing the neon disc with grace and ease, the frisbee sailing into my friend's fingertips and directly back into mine, as I'd leap to catch it. My first throw went into the trees. My second throw went straight to the ground. My third throw went across the park in the wrong direction. After about 10 minutes of failing, while being heckled by some random guy in the park telling me it's "all in the wrist," I sort of wanted to give up. But I really wanted to be good...
Finally, after about 20 minutes my body started to remember the pattern. The childhood game came back to me, and I stated to integrate the new techniques I was learning. Soon enough I was ACTUALLY having fun! The frisbee was flowing back and forth, and delight was flowing through my veins. I found the joy! Now, it's my new favorite game! (seriously, if you want to play frisbee call me right now, chances are highly likely that I will)
I see this happen to my students all the time. The first twenty minutes of a practice (or sometimes the first 20 classes), it's a struggle. There is no flow state, it's mostly effort, which may be coupled with frustration and fumbling. The grace and ease only come after the effort, but that takes patience and time. I KNOW from experience that the state of grace flowing freely will come, with time. I've found personally that there's something magical about 20 minutes that helps my brain to switch states. Give it time, make some effort, and eventually the joy comes.
Here's one of my favorite meditations from my teacher for flowing from effort into grace:
Close your eyes and relax sitting up or lying down.
Imagine the efforts of your day behind you. Picture it like fire, which takes a lot of effort to create and maintain. When you inhale, see the fire rising up the back of your body.
Imagine yourself stepping forward into your fullest potential with grace and ease. See that grace in front of you, picture is raining down upon you, knowing that water flows freely without any effort. When you exhale, see the image of water, descending down the front of your body.
Continue to breathe in this orbit, eventually the effort of imagination may fall away or become more fluid.