I’ve been thinking about what it means to practice. What do we practice? This was prompted by listening to Ultrarunner Rich Roll talking about part of his commitment to recovery. He said the two main components were the practice of gratitude and service. He said that gratitude didn’t come to him naturally, that he has to work at it.
And at first blush, you may think that sounds terrible. But I think it was an impressively honest statement. What he was saying was that in practicing gratitude, he practices the feeling. He is embracing the visceral experience of gratitude.
So many of us practice the writing of gratitude and we sometimes short-change the experience. Not everyone. I am sure many keeping their gratitude journals are fully embracing the feeling. But I will be honest, when I write in my journal each morning about the things that I am grateful for, I am not lying but I am also not always feeling the feeling. I am thinking the feeling.
And I asked myself what do I practice, really?
Often what I practice is annoyance, frustration, rushing, checking things off my list. Not very exciting is it? Do you think some of the same may be true for you?
I realize that often I wait for life, situations, events and the like to bring me happiness, joy, fun and other high-vibe emotions but I don’t practice them.
In this month of self-care, self-love I am thinking that it is equally important to bring attention to what we practice not only in care for our physical selves but what are we practicing in our emotional body?
Am I actively practicing gratitude? Am I actively practicing forgiveness, of myself and others? Am I practicing joy? Am I practicing slowing down?
As a yoga teacher, I frequently say: this is a practice. I remind those who attend my class that we are not reaching toward nor striving for perfection. We practice these sequences to see what they reveal to us about ourselves.
We practice different experiences in life to live it, ideally. When you start to attend to your life with the question of “what am I practicing?” It starts to get clearer, faster. It starts to be more real. We may even want to look away a bit because we are not all that pleased with what we have been practicing.
These habits that we practice are in place for a reason. This self reflection isn’t about judgment, it’s about clarity. Let yourself off the hook but look yourself in the mirror and ask: What do I want to practice today?
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G