Practice = the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
There’s no mention of the word “perfect” here. We humans made that up. Practice makes perfect. In mindfulness practice we call this “conditioning.” The stories we make up or get passed down to us or transmitted to us as we grow up, and in case you’re wondering, we never stop growing up. Thank goodness for that.
If you don’t feel like reading this whole post, and just want a quick antidote to these made-up stories, ask yourself this next time you think you know something:
Is that so?
This week I’ve been thinking about practice. Meditation and mindfulness practice. I’ve also been reading Carl Rogers’s book, On Becoming A Person.
“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. No other person’s ideas and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me.” —Carl Rogers
I love this man. If he were still alive, I’d be stalking him.
Practice = experience.
“I have learned (over the years) to be adequate in listening to myself; so that I know, somewhat more adequately than I used to, what I am feeling at any given moment.”
Angry, bored, rejecting, affectionate, and so on….
“I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function.” —Carl Rogers
Perhaps you are saying, “I know when I feel mad. I know when I’m bored.” For many of us though, such feelings have been conditionally stuffed. Way deep down someplace where we can’t see it or really feel it, except when it slips out in some unexpected, seemly unrelated way (headache, tummy ache, depression, chronic dissatisfaction).
Mmm-hmm. There it is.
Part of my mindfulness practice is playing with not knowing. And showing up anyway. In my sitting group, after we meditate for 30 minutes, we open to group discussion. Some weeks I facilitate this process and some weeks I am one of the group participants. The weeks I facilitate used to be terrifying (“What if I don’t know what to say? What if I can’t help, what if I forget?). Now, they’re just a little scary. For the same reasons. All those what if’s. Fear of the unknown. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of looking stupid. They are about the future. What’s going to happen next.
I practice trusting myself, and what happens next. My teacher, Deborah Eden Tull of Mindful Living Revolution, taught me this slogan: No previews, no reviews. You are enough. Whatever happens is enough. You may never know the seeds that are planted. You may never get the reviews, evidence of your success. You just keep showing up in service of the present moment. Trust. Me, the moment, the process, the group.
As a participant of the group, I practice showing up and sharing, even when I don’t think I have anything “important” to share about. There’s the judge, telling me what’s important and what’s not (when I listen to the judge, I play very small). There’s also the planner who needs to know what she’s going to say before talking.
The fun thing about this playing with not knowing is that it’s effortless: just start talking about whatever is present…I’m going on a retreat…my toes are tingly…I feel fine tonight…or I have nothing to say tonight. As I begin, where I need to go just seems to happen. Like magic. Sometimes I need to start shallow before I can go deep, but if I fear or judge the shallow, I can’t get to the deep. So, I show up in service of the present moment. Trust. Me, the moment, the process, the group.
Damn, this stuff is so good!
I practice not to become perfect, but to remember, that I am enough. I get love, no matter what.
I practice, not to get it right, but to be fully in it, whatever it is.
I practice to be as good as possible in any given moment (and in any given moment, what I am capable of changes).
I practice to be in acceptance of that.
I practice to be free.
I practice, because for me, it’s so freaking fun.
Why do you practice? Share in the comments.