This week, there were three amazing concepts offered as inspiration for my blog: patience, persistence, and purpose. As I had already blogged about patience a few months ago, I knew that would not be the one. However, as I began to think about the three words I came to realize that in their own way they were all related to practice. Practice requires us to be patient with ourselves. Practice requires us to be persistent as we strive to achieve our goal or change a behavior. Practice requires us to stay focused on the purpose we are trying to achieve.
Practice is what enables us to master anything. As it has been said, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Patience, patience, patience.” It does not matter whether he are trying to master a craft (photography, an instrument, etc.), a spiritual gift (i.e. awareness, mindfulness), or a change in behavior or habit, the secret to mastering anything is practice, practice, practice. Some of the top chefs in our country have spent decades perfecting their craft and all still talk about how they continue to learn, grow, and attempt to master new skills and techniques. Some of the people who participate in Pastor Will Bowen’s A Complaint Free World challenge spoke about how it took 4-8 months or longer for them to be able to go 21 days without complaining. Some of the people I have met through Don Miguel Ruiz’s Academy of Awareness have talked about how they have been spending years practicing living the five agreements. The only way any of us will arrive at the Carnegie Hall of our pursuits is through practice.
Throughout our lives, many of us have practiced sources of negative energy, such as lack, doubt, fear, and worry, to the extent that we have mastered them. However, qualities such as self-esteem, confidence, love, and faith are qualities that for many require practice. Lack, doubt, fear, and worry are like bars on a cage which confine us spiritually keeping us tracked in a space where we continuously focus on what we are lacking, what we fear, and what we will never be able to do. Until we liberate ourselves from qualities that constrain us, we cannot evolve into the spiritual beings we were created to be.
The process of liberating ourselves spiritually is an ongoing practice. This is how we all arrive at our spiritual “Carnegie Hall.” Learning how to live without these energy-zapping qualities is an ongoing process. It requires us to practice living with a different attitude, a different relationship with the Infinite, and a different relationship with ourselves. It means we practice listening to what we are thinking and saying, so that we are inscribing new thought patterns in our heart, mind, and soul. For the last 11 days, I have been intentional about not complaining. It has meant I am continuously thinking about what I am saying and the energy behind it. Several times, I have had to reword what I said so it came from a space of love or I have had to choose not to say anything because it would not be directed to the appropriate source. In the process of doing so, I have begun the process of changing the way I think and see the world. How am I going to get to a space of living complaint free – practice, practice, practice.
We each have things that are easier to master then others. For example, a friend of mine has been able to master new eating and exercise patterns with a matter of ease. For me, it is an ongoing and intentional practice, which has been accompanied with several road trips back down unhealthy patterns. On the other hand, I have found it easy to become increasingly impeccable with my word. She, however, says that her healthier eating habits have been replaced by a less impeccable verbal diet. Because of these differences, it is important to remember that we not compare ourselves to others. We are on our own journey and they are on theirs.
Practicing anything requires time, discipline, commitment, and faith. We have to believe we can achieve whatever we are intent on achieving. We must have the discipline and commitment to persist through those times when we are not as successful as we might like. We must be patient with each other as we work at mastering our pursuit. We must claim the time and the energy to focus on our pursuit. If we are serious at arriving at our spiritual Carnegie Hall, then we must practice, practice, practice.