Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Practice" or "A Practice"

When I was reading Chi Running while Sherry and I were on vacation recently, there was a point in the book at which the author made a distinction between needing to practice something and making something a practice.  I looked for definitions online, and the first use is one we are all familiar with--doing something over and over to improve. The second use is also familiar but a little more subtle.  It is mostly a usual and customary way of doing something.  Many times, a person will need to practice something before it becomes a practice.  But just because a person practices, and maybe even becomes proficient at doing something does not necessarily mean that the person will make whatever it is a practice.  Practicing just requires repeating something.  Making something a practice, in my mind, requires a consequential change in the way that I lead my life.  It requires more of a definitiveness. It requires, to use the expression that I've used throughout my Lenten reflections, being "all in," at least as far as a particular activity or way of doing things is concerned.

As I am now on only the second morning of waking up without having to feed and water the dog and let her out, I notice how much I had made care for all three pets a practice in my morning routine.  There are a variety of other things that I make a practice of in my family life and my career.  One of the goals moving forward, is to realize that there are probably too many things that I was trying to make a practice of, and to focus on a subset and move forward better with those.  To truly be "all in" with the things I am making a practice of while other things get left behind.  Making a practice of better prioritization is key.

But the most important thing that I've made a practice of during this Lenten season that I did not before was daily reflection on my spiritual well being.  Sometimes tied directly to my physical (through all the ties between running and spirituality) and sometimes just standing on is own.  Regardless, I don't know that I'll have the time to write every day after the Lenten season is over, but I do want to try to continue to make spiritual reflection a practice in my daily life.  A usual part of my daily life.  It is a luxury to be able to do so--as there are many other things on my to do list that sometimes suffer--but it is a healthy luxury that helps me to move forward, to continue to grow, and to continue to deepen my understanding of my own spiritual needs, the spiritual needs of those around me, and the the relationship between my spiritual needs and other parts of my life  

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