Practice means conscious and deliberate action.
Two words “conscious” and “deliberate”. “Conscious” means explicit. Not tacit. “Deliberate” means with a goal in mind. These 2 criteria are central in practice.
Many people may enjoy writing or blogging. The question is: is there a conscious and deliberate effort at using the blog for a purpose or making blogging itself into a practice? When blogging becomes conscious and deliberate, then it becomes a practice. In conscious and deliberate practice you keep aside your ‘interest’ and keep a ‘goal’ at the center.
Dabbling is fun, but unless it is imbued with conscious and deliberate actions, it does not transform or become an integral part of your personality.
Conscious and deliberate action – practice – can take place at 4 levels
Practice at the level of ‘familiarity’ means there must be formal exposure to that subject, e.g.: one should have read 20 books on the subject with a systematic world-view emerging as a result.
Practice at the level of ‘learning’ means there is a conscious and deliberate effort at developing my capability set. e.g.: I should be attending classes regularly, or I should have a mentor, or I should be apprenticing under somebody, i.e. some conscious method of learning.
Practice at the level of ‘engagement’ means I am involved in the study of this area all the time. I am concerned about the way I do things, I have incorporated my learnings into every part of my life, I write about it in relation to the subject or practice area at hand.
Practice is where you have to be clear and tough. It is obvious that very few people will reach a stage of mastery – but if any person reaches level 3, i.e. level of deep engagement, of any one practice area then that itself says a lot about that person as a human being
Thus, there are many levels of practice. But in all levels, a practitioner is one who consciously and deliberately intends to transform the state of his being.