Sunday, November 18, 2007

Practice, Practice, Practice

I originally typed "practise, practise, practise," because the context of "practise" is usually something you're supposed to DO or be in action around. In this case I mean practice as a noun, because I'm thinking of different kinds of practices people have. Most of us reading this know of yoga as a practice. It's something you do and you show up when you like it and when you don't. But I was thinking today about other practices we have in our lives...

I read the paper this morning and there was something about 2 muslim women in Ottawa who went to visit a synagoge to share with the people there about their faith. Religion is a practice.

Then a friend of mine called from Toronto to ask me a mothering question, and again I thought, parenting is a practice.

As I was getting ready to go to work to teach yoga, I reflected about how work is a practice.

There are many areas of our lives that are practices - areas we work on and in and keep showing up and learning about ourselves in the process. There's health, diet, finances, relationships, education, and loads more. We're all involved in many practices. And some of those practices are on paths that are shared by many others - we can find people on the same path who share a similar practice as us and we can get inspired or talk to people who've gone further along in the path than we have and can help us relax and know what to expect. We can share with others who are coming up behind us on the path and help them, warning them about the obstacles and encouraging them when they navigate their way along.

What happens when we continue with a practice is that we begin to love it. Love it for showing us ourselves and who we really are, or being a place or a way that we can truly express ourselves. And sometimes we get attached to our practices or our path and we think it's the right path and that other people who have a different practice are somehow missing something if they are not on our path or share our practice. Worse than that, because it's natural to want to share our practice with others, especially when we love it so much, is that we make other paths and practices wrong.

Like the muslim women who went to the synagogue - they were motivated to go because they had been experiencing other people putting down their practice and not really connecting with it as an alternative practice, but as a threat and something to avoid and not respect. By sharing who they are in their practice, they were able to relate to the other people on a similar path - people practising their religion - and connect with them on that level.

So if you have a practice that really speaks to you and you know that it's good and righteous and wonderful, that's so great! What a treat to find something you connect with so strongly and that brings you such joy. We need to trust that others who are on different paths are able to have similar things brought forth in their own practice without making them or their paths wrong.

And have you ever noticed how if you take steps to clean up your practice in one area of your life the other areas are impacted as well? My grandpa guru used to say with reference to the yamas and niyamas, which are also practices, that you just have to pick up one flower to get the whole garland.

So don't be attached to your practice but stay committed! There's a difference. Committing will keep you going deeper, allowing you to notice and respect other practices and keep you out of suffering and being attached will, well it may in time lead to misunderstandings and suffering...

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