Having a Practice, #2
I was thinking about the activities that come most immediately to mind when we think of “having a practice.”
I would certainly include running, fitness training, biking, in fact all athletic endeavors from Spartan races to Brazilian jiu-jitsu to dressage to golf. Advancing into the more esoteric, we can’t leave out calligraphy, swords training, flower arrangement, and the tea ceremony.
In my own lexicon, I would include any artistic endeavor—writing of all kinds, dance, filmmaking, photography, acting, all comedic pursuits, videogame design, etc. And I would not exclude crafts—everything from quilting to furniture making to blacksmithing… any aesthetic activity that takes place in your studio or your home office or out in the garden or the corral.
What do these activities have in common? Why do they seem ideal candidates for a practice?
- All involve, as an aim or intention, the effacement of the ego.
- All require, to achieve their highest levels, a form of psychic surrender.
- All are—however we might define this—”spiritual.”
The aim of a practice, in my view, is to seek the spirit by way of the body. In other words, using the physical to attempt to reach the ethereal.
In Downward Dog, we put the body into a certain alignment, a specific posture with regard to gravity. The point is, yes, to stretch and strengthen. But more than that, it’s to take the mind out of the ego “I” and into the “Witness I.” And from there, to higher versions of consciousness.
That’s the point, I think, of any pursuit in the arts or the crafts (and entrepreneurship as well.)
For sure, I consider my own writing a practice.
I’m trying produce a “work,” yes. And I want the work to be good and even to “succeed.” But the real intention is to seek a form of “the zone,” to achieve a state of “play” that is beyond effort and exertion and beyond the constraining and limiting ego.