The Practice of Practicing
On some level we all aspire to be better, good or perhaps even great at something.
I believe we all seek perfection or optimization in our lives. It’s the drive that makes us find the quickest, easiest and most efficient way of doing things. Like a good chef, who has run a kitchen for several years, and worked through all the various jobs – they become adept at doing things like chopping, dicing, simmering and a whole range of skills pertaining to their craft.
When Jamie Oliver slices an onion in record speed, with perfect precision, it isn’t because he is Jamie Oliver – it’s because he has practiced this thousands and thousands of times before. Those first few onions took a while to chop, and were not works of culinary art to be sure.
And so it must be with how we practice cultivating consciousness in our own daily lives. An onion is a very tangible thing as compared with the scope and skill in which we live our lives, but the practice is where the rubber meets the road and separates the skilled from those less so.
In practicing cultivating consciousness the aim is to be aware of how we are being in this life. It’s not the things we do, our checklists or endless responsibilities – it’s the HOW we show up. It is the recognition of what is true – versus what is manufactured by our own minds. What is essential is that we are able to understand where we are, versus where we should be.
So how do we practice being conscious? We observe what is – unobstructed by the meaning that we attach to what is happening. Everytime we can observe something in ourselves; a behaviour, reaction or coping strategy, and see it objectively without turning into a story or creating a meaning, we are cultivating consciousness.
Here is an example. One of our parents says something that triggers a response in us – maybe our natural reaction is to counter what they said, prove them wrong or argue their perceived ignorance. Or maybe we choose to shut down and internalize, making internal judgement.
What is true in this moment? This is a great question to cultivate curiosity and deeply inquire.
Maybe the truth is, we are triggered. Maybe we understand that our parent is anxious and speaking from that emotional state. Maybe we feel a physical sensation in our body and can notice that this sensation is very activated.
This is the practice. Nothing more is required than to notice. Noticing “what is” is practice.
To cultivate consciousness we need to be in allowance to what is. Something mysterious and alchemical happens when we can focus on what simply is happening – a space is created for a new level of awareness, perhaps even a deep profound insight that alters how we see something. When we experience the truth of something, there is a perceptible feeling or shift in our body.
Now celebrate when you can disrupt the mind stream enough to notice this. Welcome to the practice of practicing!