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Thursday, 15 December 2011

What Defines a Practice?
(and How Do I Go Deeper?)

I am often asked by students to describe my "personal practice". I am asked if I meditate or do physical yoga on a daily basis. My answer is almost always the same:

"Sure. I practice every day." 

This is then followed by a qualifying statement that goes something like this:

"I don't do physical yoga every day and I don't sit to meditate every day. I don't have a specific time or place or ritual that I follow. What I do for my personal practice is dictated by how I feel in the moment. Sometimes it involves active physical yoga, sometimes a bit of breathwork, a restorative pose or two and a guided meditation. Sometimes I feel called to sit in stillness, either in silence or with gentle music. Sometimes I perform Japa (chant mantras) using the mala beads and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't really do anything at all."

More often than not, I find myself Living My Yoga and Meditating In Action. This tends to be the most common path my daily practice takes. I find myself humming mantras while going about daily activities; driving, grocery shopping, walking, or doing laundry. 

More often than not, I find myself making a true effort to be "of the world, but not so much affected by it". To remain supportive of others while at the same time staying arms length from the drama they create in their lives. I make an effort to be kind and loving to myself and to those around me, to seek and understand someone else's perspective and to truly take the time to listen to what they have to say. On any given day, I find to be challenging enough to practice without adding the obligation and effort of taking the time to sit in stillness or "do" yoga when I don't feel like "doing" it.

This is my yoga. Living the yoga in my daily life. The Lifestyle of Yoga. And I like it a lot.

So why do I feel like sometimes I should be more attentive and disciplined in my practice?
Why do I feel almost guilty that I don't make the effort to move onto my mat and sit in stillness more often? My mat sits rolled out in the yoga room every day. It is always there waiting for me. So why every morning do I walk right over top of that mat and head instead to my desk and this computer to begin my day here?

Why do I not feel called to sit or do a physical practice more often? Maybe I don't want to take the time? Maybe I have "better things to do"? Maybe I'm not even resisting consciously? But how do I turn whatever this is around so that it is something that I can embrace and enjoy more deeply?

I was part of a wonderful Collective Brilliance group brainstorming session yesterday hosted by Karen Larkin of Karen Larkin Coaching and Janet Douglas of Strength To Soar. Each group member came to the table with a dream or a wish for their lives, a perceived limitation and a question about how to achieve that dream or wish. In turn each group member received brainstorming ideas on how to move forward with their dream or wish. It was a very enlightening session and I am grateful to have received confirmation for my current path and actions, as well as some new ideas on how to create a special (and more disciplined) daily yoga and meditation practice.

I really want to make an effort for a more disciplined daily practice and to see where it will take me. I feel that if I make a true and real effort to have a daily ritual, I will then be able to confirm with confidence what type of practice feels good for me. Then at least I can know in my heart that I committed and made an honest effort, which will allow me to either stick with it or let it go with love.

It takes:
21 days to create a habit. 
40 days to change a habit.
90 days to embed and confirm that habit.
120 days for the new habit to be who you are.
1000 days to master that new habit.

So wish me luck. Here I go using this blog as a crutch to begin creating a new meditation and yoga practice habit pattern. I pledge to MAKE AN EFFORT EVERYDAY to offer up for myself and my own growth and peace of mind, a little yoga movement followed by little sitting in stillness - every day - for at least 40 days, hopefully longer!

Welcome to DAY 1 of Heather's New Practice.

I'm going start.... but not right now.... after my clients, later this afternoon.... right after lunch. (Hold me to it - email and ask me if I did my practice today.... please?)

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