On Practice

Writing more is feeling really good and nourishing, although a few days in I did find I wasn’t up for actually blogging every day. Even so, I’m happy to have it show up and do the work of rewiring and revisiting it as a *practice*, whether it shows up here or in a notebook or just quickly in my notes app on my phone. I think it’s all good.

I’ve spent some of my adult life looking at areas of desired growth and thinking “Why can’t this just be built in? Why can’t I just be an animal with an intact culture and an intact spiritual lineage and an intact environment and…” Well, something has happened recently where I realized that as long as I am in that particular stage of grief around the-way-things-are, the less actual progress I’m going to make in those areas in terms of coming up with something new and meeting some of those growth goals. Like sure, if the environment and the food ways were untouched by the ravages of civilization, maybe I’d experience perfect nutrition? Who really knows? But is that the world I live in? Nope. So I’ve got to adapt, I’ve got to accept. I’ve got to do the next right thing in front of me.

I experienced this flavor of grief when I developed some chronic low back/hip pain brought on by a touch of hyper mobility paired with a yoga injury. It was sometimes really debilitating, and over a few years of working at it and visiting various practitioners, I stumbled upon a variety of practices that I now use to keep the chronic achiness at bay. One of the main things I now do is regular weight training. I’ve been doing this for over a year, consistently, and it’s made the biggest difference so far. And sometimes I’m thinking “Seriously? This isn’t fair! All the farm work and activity I do, and I’ve got to weight train, too?” I struggled against extra work outs and training for all kinds of reasons, but it’s the reality for me if I want to address this pain. I need the training, I need the extra attention on the muscle imbalances that I’m prone to, it just is what it is if I want stability and less pain.

Also, it’s surprised me. The growth actually has happened and is continuing to happen- turns out it’s not just drudgery! I used to struggle and slog through working out, and now I actually feel a sense of love for it. I feel the rewards, the way that the “hard” actually delivers, on both the physical and the emotional planes. I like being strong, meeting myself in hard places. I like that I’ve been so committed and that even when I falter, I get back at it. I like knowing that I’m more stable in my other work, I’m protecting our future, to the best of my ability. Also it’s inspired Jeff, who, at 41 has started noticing his own physical imbalances creep up and who very much cares about his ability to stay mobile and strong into our older age. He knows he probably needs to employ a practice, but he’s not super excited about it. But he’s said that he’s watched me diligently work, and it’s been an encouragement to him. Which makes me feel like it’s all the more worthwhile! Our health in all of these areas is not just for us.

I’m finding this is true of my work with nature, my work in my home, in terms of my spiritual development, in maintaining healthy friendships, in conflict… all connected to a practice. Showing up and using the skills. Many of them are intuitive- I’m not actually thinking of this in terms of any kind of coercive discipline. The way I see it is more like remembering our intentions, and acknowledging the influences around us and our part to play in it all. I think it’s a little bit of a trap to think we will hit a point where we can just set the thing on autopilot. My friend and I have been saying this thing together around some of our shared work- “Everyone is working a program, whether they know it or not.” So we might as well know it, and then we can infuse it with care and attention.

Another thing I know I’d like to develop a practice around is doing more reading. Attention mining technologies have really done a number on this area of my life, and I read very little these days. I’d like to blame it on my busy life… which of course affects how much leisure time I actually have, but it’s not so much that I can’t open up that game on my phone for 20 minutes! So, in recognition of how this seems to work I’m committed to a small practice, aiming for any amount of reading on most days, honoring this desire in me to explore some of these beautiful books I’ve been looking at for so long.

I’m working on two in particular- The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, and What Are People For? by Wendell Berry. If any of you out there feel like sharing about any practices that have helped you, or books you are reading, etc., feel free!


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