The Art of Self-Growth: What is your "Practice" ?
We know our struggles. Personal ones: unfulfilled dreams, ruined relationships, dull work, stress, dark thoughts, headache, or back pain. Most of us run away from them by getting busy with work, TV shows, the internet. The remaining few, more aware ones, try to find a solution. My work in holistic health makes me sensitive to others’ struggles. Many come to me, wounded, asking for a cure. Their symptoms may differ but the reasons are always the same: they lack nurturing.
Imagine yourself to be an apple tree. When apples taste bad, you don’t poke them with a stick; you find out what’s going on down below. You water, you fertilize. You tend the roots. That's why we need a practice.
A practice is done daily and regularly. It is not work-related. It is a gift we give to ourselves.
A practice brings you joy and energy.
A practice is inarguable. It is like brushing teeth. A practice brushes the decay off our body & mind. You don’t sit and wonder whether you like it or not. You do it every day because you know it is the right thing to do.
A practice does the following 3 things: heal, strengthen, enrich. All in all, a practice tends us at the roots.
What we do every day shapes us, it shapes our future. A practice is the most pivotal tool for self-growth I know.
I have 3 practices: yoga, writing, and drawing. Each day I do 1 hour of yoga, 3 pages of long-hand zen-writing, and 1 Zentangle drawing. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
Yoga heals and strengthens my body-mind. Writing helps me get to know my mind and my experience. Drawing connects me to my imagination and creativity. They allow me to express myself authentically with movements, words, and images. They make me feel whole.
Still, I am a young woman living in a busy city, running her own start-up project. There are days when I cannot do all 3. I’m careful not to criticize myself though. Nobody lives up to their ideal. But I do my best to honor my practices.
a tree in the eden garden
This is something I believe with my whole heart. Our being is like a tree. Our mission in this short precious life is to be its gardener. Because nobody else can. Growing our own tree is the best way to contribute to the Eden garden. Growing big and strong, we then offer shade for young trees to bud.
The world does not need us to solve its problems. It desperately needs us to nurture our Mind-Body-Soul.
We are not here to get busy, or to become an important person. We are not here to earn a lot of money, or to get angry with politicians. We are not here to be a good son or daughter, or to please – perfect – perform. We are not here to burn ourselves in the name of changing the world. Adding one more ruined life to the problem does not solve the problem.
I think that in our moment of dying none of these matters to us.
And where do we think we are going? Going to die; that’s what we are.
make a good life, make life good for other
Many of us are young at age or in spirit; we want to create something good for this world: a system, a technology, a school, a book. That is wonderful. Make sure we do it the right way.
Know that you can only give what you have. You are your own creative materials.
You can spread happiness only when you are happiness. You can make peace only when you are peace. You can give love only when you are love.
On days when I don’t practice, I am off-centered. My work falls flat, loses its substance. I stop doing good work, and begin to drag along. Luckily, I’ve learned do to what I need to do: returning to the yoga mat, or the page and the pen.
Sadly, many of us create in bleakness and exhaustion, instead of in abundance and love. We see religions kill in the name of God. The madness is: religious leaders believe they do the right things. I just wonder: God is Love; how can God kill?
Things like this happen every time someone tries to give what they do not have.
Have a practice. Heal, strengthen, and enrich your being. The practice is your home-coming. In that pure place of wholeness and love, you’re most able to create something good. In fact, you have no choice. You have so much goodness, surging from your belly; you have to share it. That’s the right way.
Have a practice. Something that heals the pains of your body-mind. Strengthens the immune system of your physics and psyche. Enriches your way of living and working.
Something that nurtures you. Helping you to make a good life, and make life good for others.
Writing is my practice. I face huge resistance when I decide to sit down and write. We all do. The cunning mind freaks out and tries to stop us. It knows when we begin our practice, everything will change. We need the courage to practice anyhow. For the record, here’s what I typed down right before writing this article.
I'm sitting here wanting to write but my writing spine has weakened by the lack of article writing. I 'm feeling stupid and dumb like a Chihuahua – only half as aggressive. Now my mind thinks that the music is too loud. It urges me to fix things to be in a perfect state for writing. (Did I tell you that I just made a mango black beans smoothie, and turned off the air conditioner?)
This is funny! What else does it need? Very well then, I shall lower the volume of the music. And then let's do this, shall we baby girl? It is going to be fun. It IS always fun. And you KNOW that you are bound to feel happy at the end of the practice. The practice gives you yourself. Yourself. Not someone else. Not Diana Ross. Or Emma Watson. Or Audrey Hepburn. Yourself. How wonderful is that?
Give yourself to yourself. Have fun practicing.