I feel like writing but I don’t really know what to write about. Maybe if I just start, I’ll finish. It is the practice, after all, that makes for a habit. It’s not the skill. A guy I talked to the other day kept saying he was anxious to “get better” at meditation. There is no “getting better” at meditation. Yes, the mind eventually will begin to heal and settle with hours of continuous practice. But the mind is born to wander. It thinks. That’s literally it’s main deal. It can’t “get better” because it’s already good at what it does. It’s just a bit wild. So we practice to mold that mess into a strength.
Yoga is the same way. I remember early on in my 20-year yoga practice apologizing to a teacher about my lack of practice. “I know I need to do better,” I said. “I feel like a failure at yoga.” She replied, “That’s why they call it a practice. There is no perfect way to do it. Just start again.” I have many times used that as a touchstone as my practice time ebbs and flows with my desire, energy and available time. It’s not about hitting goals or getting the pose right. It’s about stepping into the practice to learn whatever I learn.
All of these practices – writing, meditation, yoga – are healing for me. They alleviate stress and nurture me when I feel I have nothing else to give. I avoid numbing out because of my propensity for addiction, so I lean in. I explore what is going on inside me by staring at my feet in Uttanasana or following my breath in meditation. I take the remnants of my worries, hopes and dreams and mold them into a digestible story with my writing. These practices help me to identify the root of my demons and sit with my beautiful mess with compassion and love. The practice is transformative. By accepting whatever I’m bringing to my practice, I find peace. Anxiety dissipates or diminishes. Obstacles melt. I can rise to meet the day.
I don’t remember why I was drawn to yoga and can’t explain how writing became a salve for me, but I know that when I need something or I feel out of sorts, these practices are the path. I step on my mat and settle into child’s pose. I close my eyes to observe my breath. Or, like today, I just start writing and all of the troubles of the world fade into the background. The peace may not last for long, but it lasts for a moment. And being kind to myself in that moment is the practice that changes my world one breath, one foot placement or one word at a time.