The unexpected purpose of having a practice

Two weeks ago, if you had asked me what a practice is for, I would have said that the purpose is to help you navigate life with more inner peace. To help you be more present and orient your awareness inwards so that you can connect to the deepest aspect of yourself. I would even have written you a bullet-pointed list. But over the last two weeks, I have been shown something I didn't know about having a regular practice. You see, over the last two weeks, I have not managed to get to my practice at all. Not once because I have been a full-time carer for my Mum. Those of you living around a loved one with cancer will know the effect this illness can have on your life. You will be all too aware of the bottomless pits of grief and despair and the giddy heights of relief and happiness. The relentless cycle of emotions that can wear down the best of us. So as someone who often speaks of the benefits of having a practice at such times, why did I not turn to it in my moments of need? The answer is simple. I could not find the inner resources to do it. I was bone-tired, heavy with overwhelm, worn down and weary with the relentlessness of it all. Some may see this as failure. A failure of The R.E.S.T. Practice and of my belief in its benefits. But I don’t see it that way because something remarkable happened during this time. I learnt what a practice is really about.

My practice invisibly did its thing, taking me by the hand and showing me how to BE in challenging times.

To my utter surprise, I discovered that my practice has developed in me a healthy way of dealing with the levels of stress and discomfort I was experiencing. I discovered a newfound capacity to sit with what is going on, a deep trust that ‘this too shall pass’ and an even deeper knowing that I am strong enough to handle this. If I didn’t have a practice where I have learned to regularly inquire into and explore my immediate experience, I would not have been aware of what I was feeling or of the defensive ways I was acting. Even if I had been aware of the effect my thoughts were having on me, I would probably have resorted to toughing or numbing it out, returning to my usual tactics of avoidance and denial. But this time, even though I did not pick up so much as a crayon, I was aware of the knots in my stomach, the tension in my shoulders, a body that was numb and the heavy fullness of a mind that could not process the amount of information it needed to. I may not have practiced, but my practice invisibly did its thing, taking me by the hand and showing me how to BE in challenging times. I may have resorted to an occasional G&T, but I consciously made that choice, I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. I am still wobbly, unsure and a little unclear but I now know something I did not know before. That my practice is not just about making me feel good in the moment. It is also helping me to build the muscle of consciously meeting my life and helping me stay present to my life no matter what is happening. Don't you just love it when life is the best teacher of all? Jane xx