Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Discernment in Practice

If you watched the great video clip of Beryl Bender Birch I posted recently, you know that she wisely said that she doesn't feel she can teach anyone how to teach. She can only show them how she practices.

So to everyone who has asked me "How do I practice at home?", I have to say there is not one answer to that, but I will describe a little bit about how I practice at home and hope that is helpful to those who have asked the question.

Regular practice at home without a teacher present or the sounds of others breathing is not easy, but like lots of not so easy things, it is very rewarding. One of the layers that is slowly peeling back in my home practice is leaving a sharper awareness of discernment. For me this has been a long time coming. One of the most difficult things for me to judge when I first began practicing at home was when to push the edge and challenge myself and when to back off or even cut the practice short that day. There have been days when I continued on with practice when I should have heeded my body's suggestion to stop. There have also been days where I have done only what was familiar and comfortable when I had the energy and focus for challenge.
Only doing the daily practice itself has provided a way in to discern what was appropriate for any particular moment. Paradoxically, the way to learn how to practice at home, is to just start practicing at home. Part of home practice for me is learning to accept in that moment whatever comes up in practice and letting go of whatever expectations I might be harboring about how the practice should go. Again, definitely not easy, some days easier to practice than others, but always worth it.

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