I ask this question because I keep coming across people in my life, who I respect and look up to, that mention their “practice” when referring to certain areas of their life. For example, my spiritual advisor, whom I talk to every Monday evening for up to an hour, refers to the time that she sets aside to meditate as her meditation “practice”. My yoga instructor suggests if we have a certain asana or pose that we get a lot of benefit from, we may want to jot it down in a notebook for another time if we have a yoga “practice” that we adhere to. I have a childhood friend, named Shileste Morris, who has written books, has her own blog site and Facebook page. She likes to encourage people to “practice your purpose”. I’m encountering the phrasing so much that it’s been sticking in my mind, tugging at my spirit and circling my heart. I needed to check out the definition as my 12 step work over the years has taught me the value and clarity of knowing the meaning of words.
- the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
- repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
- perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.
- carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
Well, that does clear things up. Now I turn the blog topic and question towards myself. What is my practice? DO I have one? And why is this concept sticking in my head, heart and spirit?
What is my practice? I want to say “off the top of my head”, but the truth is I’ve given it quite a bit of thought and I realize I do have a spiritual “practice”! The principles I’ve learned in my 12 step journey are what I “practice in all my affairs”, to the best of my ability in any given moment. Principles such as honesty, hope, faith (surrender), courage, integrity, willingness, humility, brotherly love, discipline, perseverance, awareness and service (charity). That may seem like a tall order, however, it really isn’t at this stage in my recovery. The longer I practice these principles the narrower the road gets for me. This simply means that when I am confronted with a situation that demands a response or action from me I am able to fall back on the principles of my spiritual practice. When I act contrary to my principles and trust me, even now there are times when I react dysfunctionally before I think, it feels awful and wrong. Here again, I use my principle of awareness of what I’ve done and attempt to make it right as soon as possible. My self-care rituals are a part of my spiritual practice too. Prayer, meditation, yoga, walking/hiking and now, blogging/writing.
I feel the concept of “practice” is sticking with me because this new phase of my life requires I be more diligent in the application of my beliefs. This journey to my heart, my true self is demanding I exercise my principles to maintain and improve my spiritual growth. The reason that is so important is because I’m chartering new ground for myself. I am living in the land of little to no television, and I mean mostly no television. A land of sustained emotional, mental and spiritual presence where there is a marked decrease in emotional eating, and I mean a substantial decrease! I don’t even seriously entertain the thoughts of mindlessly stuffing junk food in my mouth. Because the thoughts still cross my mind, but I am AWARE in a way I’ve never been before so I don’t act on them. Or I eat a healthier alternative, or I indulge in a small amount. About the only thing that surprises me is that I’m NOT surprised by all this as if I’ve been ready or working towards this. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. However, to continue forward through what life can and surely will throw at me, I need to be diligent about my spiritual practices.
My old way of dealing, or more accurately, not dealing with life no longer serves me. While it didn’t feel good to hide or avoid life through too much television, rereading too many romance books and mindless emotional eating, it served a purpose for a time. That time is over and when I discover what my Mission in Life is all about, I will practice my purpose.