What is Practice, Anyway?
Hello to us, all.
This week, with so many externals wildly and unpredictably unfolding, I find myself thinking about practice.
In this moment which seems to be ever-and-always-changing, our fluid pandemic reality, practice can offer us consistency, access to that which does not change.
I am convinced we Westerners just do not grok the essence of practice:
- Practice as an ongoing, non-judgmental experiment.
- Practice as entry into a field of exploration.
- Practice as a set of strategies to return to, no matter what we are feeling.
- Practice as consistency.
- Practice as curiosity.
- Practice as riverbanks.
The Buddhists say,
Fall down 100 times?
Get up 101.
That is it.
Just, keep going.
In Twelve Step we say,
Keep coming back.
Keep coming back
To the breath,
To the tether,
To weekly yoga,
To a news boycott,
To whatever you choose
To be the riverbanks
No matter how many times
You find yourself
Just come back.
An essential element
That is where
The growth happens—
That is where
The muscle of return
That is where
We bless ourselves
For our healing, growth,
Let us consider the kinds of practice we might talk about:
Yoga? Of course.
Freedom from sugar.
Commitment to less intake of news.
Consistency of schedule for bedtime.
Non-doing? Sitting on the porch? Listening to the birdies?
Practice as non-doing,
Not as more to do,
But as spaciousness,
On and on and forever on.
Spiritual practice does not have to be something we do not enough of,
Something hard and difficult
Something externally imposed upon you.
It can be an internal decision to bring a bit more stability to your world.
Where in your life do you choose to bring more stability?
Which pillar of self-care is the shakiest for you now?
Movement? (Let us not even call it exercise.)
Connection? With Self? With others? With Grace?
Within your most rocky arena, imagine a few steps you can regularly take,
To bring stability.
I am committed to 10:30, lights out.
Period. Conversation over.
No matter how my mind screams at me, most insistently:
I AM NOT TIRED.
I believe my body probably is.
Even if I lay there wide awake,
The gift of the riverbank of 10:30
Feels better, more positive,
Then ongoing Netflix episodes that seduce me into the night,
Remote control bungyed to my hand.
The gift of practice lies
I do believe
In the cultivation
Yes, of course,
We benefit from
The “form” of practice.
Right use of will
Is truly the gift,
Developing deeper relationship
Is the boon.
As Rumi says,
Whether you have broken your vow
Here is a link to an audio teaching/meditation I recorded for us, about two practices that have sustained me this week, The Practice of Relaxing into the Moment, and the Practice of Looking for the Beauty. Please enjoy, as I share with you that which pretty much carried me through the upheaval of this week.
And here is another gift, a song that brought me great comfort this week. I am delighted to share it with you. The singer is Emily Donato of NYC— you can find out more about her at her site, www.emilydonato.com.
Emily’s mastery is an example of the result of focused practice and we are blessed with the outcome. It is also an extraordinary example of finding beauty in the moment. Please relax and enjoy Emily’s gift to us.
What are you taking away from this blog? Is there any gift of practice you want to offer yourself? Or something you already do that is sustaining you?
One step at a time—that is all life is asking of us.
May we be healthy.
May we be happy.
May we ride the waves
Of our lives.
May we live in peace
All blessings, Aruni
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