Doctor Jana, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
“And, and so having a sense that there's a kind of an onward leading movement slowly over time, but it's not an armored, leaving leading movement that's linear, that you can expect to just kind of steadily make progress. It's more like up and down, back and forth, and our lives are so complicated the states of our mind They're so different from different times. But slowly over time, we're moving in one direction. And that direction is towards freedom. So, there is this process of this path of journey that unfolds over time. And so, we don't get tripped up around that and caught up in striving and comparing yourself and wanting to be further than we are. One of the principles that I love is the principle that to go from A to B, be fully at A. So, for the purpose of mindfulness practice, if you want to go anywhere in your mindfulness practice, don't worry about getting anywhere with the practice, just focus on being fully present for what is and that practice of fully present for what it is, is what is onward leading, it'll unfold the way it's supposed to unfold. If our purpose, our dedication is not just making progress, but rather showing up and being fully present here, the progress takes care of itself.” Gil Fronsdahl, AudioDharma - Dharmette: Satipaṭṭhāna (14) Lucid Awareness and Non-Clinging
Following up on last month’s newsletter, my annual review of what went well and what we are working toward, I had 4 responses. The clear theme of the responses was the awareness that consistency with practice is elusive these past months.
In the same month, the online yoga teacher I practice with, the trainer Tony Gentilcore by whom I am very influenced and the Dharma teacher I listen to every day all emphasized pivoting one’s focus from the end result to just this day, just this week. In other words, transforming a goal of “more flexibility, less pain” into “Today I will do my guided breathing exercises and because it is Thursday, I will do a yoga practice”. (As I write this it is a Thursday. If it were Friday today, I would have written, “Today I will do my guided breathing exercises for 5 minutes and because it is Friday, I will strength and cardio train”.)
I have often talked about the good coach/trainer/teacher principle that someone who is a natural at a skill sucks at teaching others. Michael Jordan never did become a coach. Larry Bird did. Here I am, a person who is very regimented and consistent, trying to coach you who struggles with it.
#1: Let go of “making progress”. Practice is doing the Bunny Hop- Take two hops forward, one hop backward. Honestly, what most of us hate is that it’s in arriving one hop back again, we find the root of issue and get to work to change it. Whatever caused the weakness, the scatterbrained-ness, the pain. Even Glenda the Good Witch of the North didn’t wave her wand and give Dorothy her “Happy Ever After” after she clicked her ruby heels together (big screen version of the story).
“Do something – anything – 3 days per week, 52 weeks out of the year” The Unsexy, No BS Guide to Actually Getting Results Tony Gentilcore
#2: You will enter into conflict- spend time with family, take care of unread/unanswered emails the list of other things that need your time are unexaggeratedly infinite. You will have to make a choice and know that no one else made that choice for you. Family, emails, etc. are all high-pressure sales pitches. It seems like there’s no time, no space, no way to say, not now. Politely answer, I’ll get back to you, and do your practice.
“If you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time” Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth.
#3: Cultivate passion for what you are doing rather than doing it with the expectation of reaching a goal. Yoga, exercise, breathing are each a “being” we have a relationship with. We can cultivate a passion for the relationship and enjoy the time spent together with that being.
Consistency over intensity.