Why is it that the things in life that are so meaningful, so beneficial, are often so difficult to accomplish? Something simple like a personal daily practice that involves nurturing self, connecting with self, strengthening self. For myself I notice that my practice is always easiest in times of great stress or trauma. During these moments I am quick to return to meditation, yoga, running, music, writing poetry, praying…Yet as I move through a crisis from fear to calm I often see my practice begin to wain. “I can skip it today” “I feel great today, no need to practice”, I hear myself say, as I move towards the infinite tasks — the dirty dish, the email that needs a response.
I was recently talking with a friend who has had two close encounters with death in the last four years. Our conversation reminded me how trivial most of what I struggle with is, and how important the choices we make on a daily basis are. From that perspective, my daily practice feels like a vital ritual to me, a way to remind myself of what is truly important in life, and a chance to connect with my deeper Self and my deepest intentions. Bottom line, don’t wait until you have a life altering experience to adopt the ritual of practice.
Why is it so easy to drop our practice? I’m a runner, one who is prone to sprain my right ankle, due to a weakness in that leg. Whenever I fall, whenever I sprain my ankle — get twisted sideways — it’s my wake-up call. For hours, days, even weeks after the injury, my awareness increases, I am more present. Slowly, over time, this awareness dulls until I am running along one day worrying about something, and boom, my foot lands on uneven ground. “Wake-up”, I hear my ankle scream! Instantly my focus sharpens and I feel alive, aware, and alert, in a good way.
My advice to you? Don’t wait until you sprain your ankle, break up with your lover, or find yourself with a life threatening illness, before you adopt the ritual of practice. Remember that your daily practice will not always feel so productive or easy, and yet the ritual of a daily practice is so important to cultivate, for you, and for those around you. Start with 30 days, whether it’s meditation, walking, yoga, running, writing a poem. Find a practice to devote yourself to that connects you to you – and what is really important to you, in this brief lifetime of yours. And when it feels challenging, remember that we are all practicing right alongside you, each and every day… for at least the next 30!
“No matter what your spiritual condition is, no matter where you find yourself in the universe, your choice is always the same: to expand your awareness or contract it.”