Practice

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on yesterday’s post. I actually saw 157.2 on the scale yesterday morning, and it’s nice to know I’ll most certainly hit 155 by the end of the month, as was my goal. Already my clothes are fitting very differently. I’ve pulled some of the large sized tops out of storage and I’m packing up some of my maternity tops, which are looking ridiculously billowy at this point. It feels good to have some new clothes to wear, and to feel better about my body when I wear them.

I’m also sorry that I haven’t been commenting much this week. It’s our last week of school. Between grades being due (I just turned mine! Yay!), 8th grade graduation, driving up to the city to pick up my kids and then taking them back down to my work to go to special events and then commuting back up to the city again, and keeping up with the laundry and chores at home, I’m barely keeping my head above water. Also, Feedly was hacked, and HELD HOSTAGE (because, evidently, that is a THING that can HAPPEN?!) so I haven’t been able to even read blogs all day today (I’m going into withdrawal, seriously). I hope to start commenting again soon. Tomorrow is my last day with students so it should happen promptly.

But today’s post is not really about either of those things. Today I want to talk about something else entirely.

After I wrote those two posts about what I want to accomplish with my life, I did what I always do and I tried to find a book on the subject. What I ended up getting was It’s a Meaningful Life, It Just Takes Practice by Bo Lozoff. It got 22 FIVE STAR REVIEWS on Amazon. As in, there were no other reviews, except five star reviews. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything on Amazon with only 5 star reviews, at least not such a significant number of them. Just that was enough to get me to buy it. The fact that it was about incorporating mindfulness practice into daily life to make it more meaningful, and that it included concrete practices to do that, made it all the more compelling.

I started reading it today. I can tell it’s going to be different than a lot of mindfulness books that I’ve read before, because it really does focus on THE PRACTICE. Lozoff insists that reading about and studying mindfulness, but not practicing mindfulness, is ultimately unproductive. He quotes Wang Yang Ming:

To know and not do is in fact not to know.

That is some powerful truth. It is a truth that I know intimately, as a well versed studier of mindfulness who has yet to incorporate it meaningfully into her life. I know all about mindfulness, and how transformative it can be, but I don’t practice it, so I don’t actually know anything about it. It’s more a hypothetical thing I COULD know, if I cared enough to learn it. But so far, I haven’t.

The thing is, it requires real change to learn these substantial truths. Change is hard. And I, like so many others, am complacent. I want things to change, but I don’t want to have to do the changing. Significant change requires significant work, and I already work hard enough.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do these difficult things. I’m not sure I have the right mindset yet. I want to do them, but I don’t want to do what I have to do to do them. (Does that make sense?) Like when you want to be thinner, but you don’t want to stop eating all the delicious foods that keep you from being thinner. Or when you want to work out every day, but you don’t want to wake up an hour earlier to do it. It’s like that. I want to start my day mindfully, but I don’t want to get less sleep so I can meditate or do sun salutations before my kids wake up. I want to speak more mindfully, but I don’t want to vow never to speak about anyone when they aren’t in my presence. (Is this even possible? Do celebrities count? Ugh, I really enjoy a little light, harmless gossip every once in a while.)

So I want to make profound changes in my life, but I’m not sure I’m prepared to make the sacrifices required. I’m not sure I’m prepared to do THE PRACTICE.

And yet, I’m not happy the way things are. I can distract myself from the realities of my life for prolonged periods of time, and sometimes I think I’m very content, but eventually the façade falls away and I realize I’m not all that satisfied. It’s a cycle I’m becoming more tired of as the years march by. I don’t want to be 40 or 50 or 60 and still engaging in it. I want to make real changes, even if it’s difficult.

So I’m vowing to start small. One, maybe two (at the most) things a month, to begin, and nothing I feel very uncomfortable with. It’s summer so I already have a bit more time. I’m going to start by doing some kind of yoga after Monito wakes up for his first bottle, but before he’s up for the day. Instead of climbing back into bed for 30 minutes, I’m going to do sun salutations, or yin yoga or meditation or SOMETHING to start the day in a mindful way. That is my first promise to myself. And after a month, I’ll see how I feel, and if I want to keep doing it and if I’ll add something else.

I do want to make changes, I really, really do. And I think I’m ready to do the work. I just need to start slowly and tweak my attitude a little bit. Hopefully, these smaller changes will affect me in such a way that bigger changes will be possible down the road.

Do you have any practices that contribute meaningfully to your life? How do you feel about really changing the way you live, in an attempt to be more satisfied?

5 responses

  1. As usual, I’m in the same space right now. I read and I think about a LOT of good things I want to do in my life (productivity, mindfulness, etc…) yet I never take any concrete action. I’m realizing, like you, that all that knowledge is WORSE than useless if I never take any action. Knowing what I should do and not doing it seems even worse than not knowing (you know?)

  2. I’m in the same boat too; I’ll be interested in what you think of the book – can’t get it through my library yet so I need a personal connection to tell me it’s worth the read to spend the $$ on the book! :)

    Have you ever read “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington? I just finished the audiobook and it’s really stuck with me, the idea that we ALL need to focus on well-being (of which mindfulness and meditation is a part). The one thing I will say is that make sure you’re not sacrificing sleep to get in a meditation practice; sleep is just as important to your well-being as is meditation and yoga.

    What I’ve been doing right now is to take moments interspersed throughout my day and bring my awareness into the present moment. Which is harder than I expected it to be, I’m in my head ALL. THE. TIME.

    I do need to create more of a practice of meditation, but somehow sitting and trying for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes seems intimidating. Moments here and there right now seem to help a lot in the meantime.

    xoxo

  3. The Feedly attack has made me quite sad as well. I had nothing to read while I was pumping and commuting on the train!! :-(

  4. that sounds like a really helpful book, and yet… I hate anything that smacks of self-help! Ha! I’m just going to have to rely on you to summarize it for me :)

  5. it’s like you’ve read my mind… This post is 100% how I’m feeling these days. I *know* and I *want* to do, but don’t really want to *do*. I’m trying to start small also. I can’t do everything at once, but I can do one thing at a time. And soon those things will add up. Good Luck!

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