Terry’s Blog: Life as Practice
“Practice is obviously valuable,
and especially in repetitive acts
that we wish to improve upon;
however, there is one thing
that is often undervalued about practice,
and that is being fully aware
of the many opportunities to practice
that we are presented with daily.”
— Terry Minion
Anyone who learns a new sport, a new job, a musical instrument, cooking, all manner of repairs to such things as computers, automobiles, or virtually any skill knows that practice is essential to get good enough to be proficient, or expert enough to be a guiding light for all who want to follow. The old adage, which I still love, practice makes perfect, is a succinct statement of the value of practice.
Yet, when it comes to things of the heart, or to things surrounding behavioral change, new mental perspectives, and more, practice isn’t often recognized as much a valuable path, as it is for those skills previously mentioned.
I think practice is equally important for both, but what is more important than simply to practice in this second group–heck, and even in the first group too–is to become aware of the many opportunities that we have to practice, and thus as we practice, it is inevitable that we improve, expand, and become more.
In things of the mind and heart and soul, opportunities to practice are often attached to ‘contrast’, which is a very soft way of saying challenges, which is a soft way of saying problems or situations that can be frustrating at the least, and painful at the most. This means that if we are to recognize these opportunities to practice and then actually practice, we need to be aware so that we can see these challenges and contrast as something that is there to help us get better, to get through, to grow, to become more of our true selves.
We need to see with new eyes. This is essentially what awareness is. To see things with old eyes is to see habitual patterns, to see repetitive history, to see problems instead of the potential solution. We all have old eyes. The real value is in becoming more aware so that we see those silver linings in all those things that seem to bother us gently or violently on the surface. Old eyes see the surface, are easily led to frustration, anger, resentment at others and at ourselves. New eyes see another opportunity to be our true selves, to respond rather than react, to love rather than find fault, to enjoy rather than feel degrees of pain.
I’ve been going through a very interesting experience; selling my home and changing my life very dramatically by letting go of about 90% of my “things,” and more. So many opportunities to complain, to cajole, to blame, to rant and rave and be unhappy. And yet, all of those are perfect opportunities to practice who I really am deep down inside. That reactive guy on the surface is not really me. I am the one deep inside who knows nothing but love, and as I see these opportunities for the truth they contain, and remind myself of the value I know of practice, I find peace in chaos.
I have to say that this lesson learned from opening myself to become aware of those opportunities to practice, I am effectively, and joyfully, being who I truly am. As I do this, those challenges are transformed before my new eyes.