Sneaking up on practice

My name is Stephanie, and I have problem.

It’s not that I don’t like commitment. It’s not that I don’t find it important. I value it and know that it’s as much a part of this process of writing and sitting and everything I do. And yet, I find it problematic.

Jamie Ridler is hosting a one month “Develop a practice.” This month is Meditation. (Last month was morning pages.) And, as I’ve grown more lax with my meditation practice as of late, I decided to sign up. Since then, I have promptly failed to meditate at home for the entire month of August so far. After making the commitment.

This seems problematic to me.

A few years ago, I was thinking about commitment, practice, and that kind of great stuff, and two friends of mine made interesting comments. One said that she didn’t think too much about it, because then it wouldn’t happen. Another has said that she sometimes has to sneak up on it, because if she is overt about it, it doesn’t happen. And so… I do take a bit of comfort in the fact that these outright “challenges” of sorts create an actual something against which I can rebel. Even though I know it makes me cranky and unhappy to not follow through.

And yet, these challenges and community “let’s do this thing!” is very enticing for me. (Says she of six years of National Novel Writing Month.) Is there a balance? In joining with community and yet, sneaking up on the “commitment” aspect? Because both are really important.

Curiosity
Curious cat is curious.

Here I am, sitting with this. Part of me really wants to change change change it. I also know a lot is changing in my life right now, and that part of those changes will be incorporating my practices into my day in a very real, concrete way. So, perhaps, in the here and now, it’s noticing that this is happening and to be curious about it.

What happens when we apply curiosity, rather than 2x4s? What happens when we look at something and allow it to be what it is, rather than try to change it, immediately forever?

What opens up?

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3 thoughts on “Sneaking up on practice

  1. I’ve been thinking again about all-or-nothing-ness. And pondering why it is so tempting, and so often defeating.

    On one hand, habits are eventually self-sustaining — doing something daily becomes a groove in a life, and almost easier to do than not do, and the way to form a habit is to do something over and over again. Daily practice. Commitment.

    On the other, missing one day here or there, or eating well and mindfully “only” 90% of the time, or taking time out for illness or don’t-wanna-ness doesn’t undo all the good work that came before, doesn’t mean you are no longer a practitioner (or a “good person”). In a life of meditating, or dancing, or writing, or ___ing, those are just rough-patches or blips or vacations, not negations.

    What’s the tipping point between commitment and dabbling? Where’s the line between being someone who sometimes practices, and a practitioner who sometimes doesn’t? I’m toying with the idea that that bit — stepping over the line, adopting identity, is really where commitment lies. But while I think that’s important, that taking on roles/identities is important, that it’s not the same thing as developing the habits that go along with it (that keep people from pointing and laughing at the so-called Doer who never Does).

    Can you commit to developing a habit? Does that help at all? Where’s the sweet point between discipline and gentleness? How to we herd recalcitrant selves into etching grooves in the first place?

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