What we practice is what we get good at. You likely already know this, but have you really thought about what that means in your life? To your own wellbeing? In your relationships?
Maybe you spend the majority of your time worrying. Or serving others. How much time are you devoting to holding grudges? Is putting your health first (or last) a regular top contender in your daily list of things to do?
You can become habitual and masterful at anything you spend enough time practicing.
Whether an instrument, a sport, or a way of thinking or behaving, everything we practice sets electrical patterns or grooves into our central nervous system. Over time, and with enough practice, any action or reaction to a situation becomes stuck in those grooves, habitual, automatic. And when what you are practicing is anger, hate, fear, prejudice, judgment, or self neglect . . . imagine what happens in your body as you wake up and default to those ways of feeling and being every day.
Because there is no true destination in life, nowhere to end up other than (eventually) dead, the only thing we must do while we are here is wake up and practice . . . something.
For some people, that practice turns out to be an addiction to numb or escape from trauma or traumatic emotions. For others, that practice is a frenetic chase for the next best thing, something bigger, something more. I’ve certainly practiced both of those in my life. But now, I’m working really hard to practice something that serves my health a bit better. Now I choose, no matter how challenging it sometimes can seem, to practice the following:
Each of these practices makes me a more relaxed, open, loving person, ready to encounter whatever external things happen along the way. In total, though, they take up only about 50 minutes of an average day. The return on this time investment sure feels like much more.
Next time I’ll tell you my best tips for how to go about starting a practice or a new behavior when you are terrified of judgment and afraid that you are not good enough to change your ways. Those tips really do work, even if you're scared of failing.
In the meantime, I’m curious to know what practices you engage in and which ones especially keep you happy, sane, loving, or present in this frequently noisy, frequently challenging, frequently distracting world.
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