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33 Years of Daily Practice

Soon a big year starts for me: I will have been engaged in daily spiritual practice for thirty three years.

That is a lot of daily practice. Some delicious, some a slog, some neutral. Once set in motion, the dailiness was fairly easy to maintain. The health benefits—both mental and physical—are striking and rewarding. Spiritually it is less predictable, but I think that’s because from time to time I entertain fantasies about what ‘spiritual’ is, what Path is. (As distinct from the experience of Path which arises from practice and study.) My favorite fantasy is that Path will relieve me of my ‘self’ and of the conflicts in my life. I ask it to be Prince Charming. The escapism disappears, however, when I get down on the mat and breathe & move. I find myself, whatever she is today, and no matter what trouble I have been avoiding, I find solace. Such a simple thing.

Each day of practice is a step, and steps create Path. You know where you are going from the call inside your heart. Practice allows you to hear the call.

You know where to put your foot. My thirty three years of putting one foot after the other is not an accomplishment. It is a way of life. Each step comes and goes. I haven’t been building the Great Wall of China. Path doesn’t add up that way. I don’t know if it adds up at all except that I feel qualified to teach. Daily practice is learning. It is a relationship with yourself. Anything you do everyday becomes a relationship. People have relationships with alcohol or abuse or gambling or envy. With seduction, with destruction. Daily spiritual practice is not destructive. If I was a saleswoman I’d be saying how positive it is, but I don’t think daily practice really needs that nonsense. It is much better than positive. It is time with your Self. It is real regard and respect. I’ve been learning to trust myself.

I like how practice quiets external stimuli and brings the reference point back in. It is important to tend the light in your heart so you can see where to step.



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    1. David #

      Thank you Dunya. I admire such steadiness and feel it would do me a world of good on many levels.

      July 9, 2012
    2. David, it sometimes really surprises me. I never set out to keep going.
      As I talked about this subject with another friend we came to the idea that practice may change its shape, but it always brings you to yourself. Interesting…

      July 10, 2012
    3. Michelle #

      Yes! The continuity offers the footing. Today an NPR story on the radio about a meditation study at UCLA. It reduces loneliness and gene inflammation (and a host of illnesses that stem from that inflammation). It is the act of being the the present that brings the health benefit. Splendid no?

      August 14, 2012
    4. Mais oui! Splendid. Thanks, Michelle ~

      August 14, 2012

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