Last weekend, I took the second to last class in my meditation tradition’s second round of trainings. This weekend, I am retaking the very first course. Talk about beginner’s mind. That, though, is not the post I want to make today.
Instead, I want to talk about practice. As the About page says, I consider myself a practicer. I practice writing. I practice running. I practice meditation. I recall the words of a teacher I have been fortunate to have, “Practice makes practice.” That there is no perfect, either in writing, running, or meditation. And yet, I am finding that my skills of practice – showing up, doing the work, commitment to the practice – has been lacking in many areas of my life. That, though, is not the post I want to make today.
The post I want to make today is about that moment of initial commitment, then the follow through. Because I don’t think that commitment is a one shot deal. When I married my partner, it was an experience I won’t forget. I still smile when I think about it. That moment of commitment has transformed into a lifetime of days where I say Yes and I do, again and again. That the big time commitment everyone thinks and talks about it is a big deal. It was me saying This is where I choose to place my energy. That I felt confident in saying this is someone I wanted to make things work with.
So, when making a commitment to my practices, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ve made that deep seated commitment, that these practices are worth it to me to make the daily choices to say Yes to them. Because, up until very recently, my practices have been very sporadic. I say that it’s something I want to do, but don’t have very much follow through most days. That it’s easier for me to make the choice to surf Facebook rather than close my computer and go to my cushion. That it’s easier for me to space out in front of the television than choose to sit down with my journal and write for 20 minutes. That having a snack is my choice over lacing up my sneakers and going for a run.
I think, in some ways, it’s been that I haven’t had a larger focus. That there is a sense that I know/knew that these things are good for me, that I should want to do them, but that I haven’t worked up the oomph to do them. I’m trying to not get caught up in the days that have gone by where I have not made those things my primary choices.
But, this morning’s talk at Level One: The Art of Being Human reminded me how important it is to have a sense of purpose setting out. That there is a path quality to meditation, but at the same time, if I don’t know why I’m on the cushion, how does it get me there? Will “Meditation helps me” get me to the cushion? How about “Meditation allows me the space to work with my mind,” and thinking about those effects? What is it, really, that motivates me to do the things I do?
I think this is an important question to begin bringing into my life. What is motivating me to sit down and write for twenty minutes? Rather than clinging to those answers, it’s worth exploring the whys, especially when I find it hard to cut the extraneous and do the things that matter the most to me.
What motivates you to do the things that you practice? How do you build your own practices?