Practice

Report from the Field

I spend a lot of time bringing up various practice ideas and talking about how people might want to try them. It occurs to me that I should walk the walk as well as talk the talk, so here is a brief and painfully personal account of my current State of Practice.

Practices I’m Trying to Give Up (aka “Bad Habits”)

  • Waking and checking email/social media first thing. As Chris Brogan and Leo Babauta have mentioned, is the slurry of updates really what I want to fill my head with in the morning?
  • Allowing my perception of the past to filter my experience of the present and plans for the future. Part of this is healing process, part of it is trying to get out of patterns of thinking that aren’t necessarily terribly useful.
  • courtesy Public Domain PhotosAvoiding dealing with money in its various forms. This can be both in the acquisition and the dispersal of funds. I just don’t really enjoy working with money in pretty much any form.

Of all these, the one I could probably most easily change would be the first – but when your phone is your alarm clock, it’s far too easy to just start surfing. That often leads into the second bad habit – there are too many memories and easy routes for my semi-awake brain to go into bad moods that can tend to affect my whole day. On the other hand, the realization that I’m about to click on a page or site that might “trigger” that mood has proven to be great motivation for other habits that are doing well:

Practices I’m Cultivating

  • Morning ritual: Exercise, meditate, write in journal while having morning coffee. When I really don’t want to get out of bed, the “bad path” mentioned above often drives me out from the covers and onto the floor, doing my Insanity workout.
  • Walk/use public transit more often. I don’t have a car here in Seattle, but I try not to let that keep me from going places and doing things. If that means walking a mile and a half to the blues dance and back home again, then I just enjoy the time with an audiobook or a phone call to a friend.
  • Cook more of my own food. Some of this is related to the above, but it’s also been a matter of frugality and of trying to slow life down. It also sometimes helps me eat more healthy foods, though not always…
  • Structure my time more productively. With the help of a personal assistant this practice has proven amazing. Not because I’m any more productive, but because I feel more productive – and that makes it easier to give myself permission to relax at the end of the day.
  • Writing. I’ve managed to keep this blog on schedule far more than I ever expected, as well as making progress on other fiction, non-fiction, and novel projects.
image courtesy of Jenna Miller
The Blues Dance I Aspire To

The exercise was added a month ago in an effort to help regulate some of my darker moods. It worked pretty well, but at the same time some of my meditation and journaling has sometimes resulted in a good mood going dark as some of my deeper thoughts and insecurities come up. I don’t plan on stopping them, but I find myself really hoping this is more of a journey down a dark path towards lighter places, and not a slow digging of myself into a pit…

Another difficulty is that while it’s great for a lot of my body, my old Marine-Corps-Issue knees are not too fond of it. As I get more involved in the Seattle dance community, though, I’m hoping that I might be able to phase out “exercise” in favor of “activity.”

courtesy Jorge Franganillo, Flickr CC PoolPractices I’d Like to Cultivate

  • Music. While I was able to finally get some better speakers that improved my workspace 173%, I’ve not been able to carve the time to play guitar, keyboard, or sing anything more complicated than Glee Karaoke. I’d like to both renew my individual skill as well as be part of an ensemble of some kind.
  • Saving. I read a lot of financial security and improvement blogs (they are almost like porn for me: people who are doing beautiful things that look like fun but that seem totally out of my reach. First part of my own financial fantasy: having an Emergency Fund.
  • Making Space for Silence. While I spend a lot of time alone, I fill my time with online contacts, projects, diversions, etc. Even if I’m outside smoking a cigar, I’m composing blog entries about it in my head, or finding other things to do other than simply be there.
  • Trusting. I have continual opportunities to try and open myself to actual trust in many forms. I still tend to simply let them pass by, or go for a “trust-lite” idea of “I can handle it if they hurt me” as opposed to “I believe they won’t hurt me.”

Of these the first two seem like the easiest, though they’re not, really. They represent carving up even more of two of my most finite resources: time and money. I can get more of the latter, but I have only as much time as anyone else, and so it has to be a restructuring of priorities in order to find the space to practice instruments, and even more if I try to do it with another group.

The latter two are not limited by any means – silence is always there, underneath the things we layer on top. Trust, too, is not something that is limited by any real external forces. Both, though, are hindered by one internal force: fear. I’ve never been comfortable with what I find in the deep silences that I’ve experienced, and trust, well, that is something like “faith” that just has never been my forté.

State of the Gray

What does that all mean? It doesn’t mean that I’m doing well. It doesn’t mean that I’m doing badly. It means that I’m human, and I’m doing. Which leads me to a quote from a book I’ve recently added to my to-read list, thanks to a twitter friend.

“Being is what happens when you stop doing. Doing, in a life of balance, should be driven from who you have decided to be.”-Patrick Rhone, Keeping it Straight

Ironically, the current week of Insanity? A straight week of “Core Cardio & Balance.” Every little bit helps, I suppose…

Have you had any luck with your own practice? Feel free to share your triumphs and frustrations in the comments…

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