I love this photo of Parker Palmer, who has contributed so much through his writing, teaching, and convening about courage, renewal, and presence. More on Parker in a moment.
For a long time now, one of the things I’ve encouraged with the people in the groups I facilitate is personal practice. For awareness. For stillness. For increased ability to pause. For improved ability to listen. For integration. For presence. For interruption of doing with being. What we practice, is in fact, what we become. In a non-finish-line way.
For a long time now, I’ve been in my own practices this way. Practices. They’re not perfect routine. My mornings often include upon waking, writing in a journal (typing on my laptop). Before the lights come on. Before coffee. Before showering and brushing my teeth. I love the freshness that comes on the morning side of overnight sleep.
My practice in the morning often includes writing dreams I’ve had in the night. I hand-write these into a journal. No matter how little of a snippet I can recall. I write the parts I remember, which often helps me to remember a bit more. I love playing with the symbols to make a bit of meaning. It’s not translation that I seek with dreams. It’s intuitive companioning.
My practice in the morning also includes simple breath. I sit in a chair. Doesn’t work for me to remain laying down in bed. Or I sit on the floor. As above for my journalling, before the lights, coffee, and showering. Sometimes as little as 5 minutes — I still want the feeling of it, which tends to be a spaciousness. More commonly 15-20 minutes. My practice is breathing as slowly and as deeply as I can, without trying too hard. When I’m at 30 seconds ish for a full in-breath, pause, out-breath, pause — well that’s about as slow as I get it. I love the feeling of slow, slow pace.
Your practices may be different. Great. Do what works for you. I’ll advocate for doing them just because. Such practices can be as habbited and as helpful as showering, brushing teeth, and coffee. For inner centering, so as to be in a world that tosses as it turns.
For a long time now, many of us have been encouraging personal practice. A participant in a recent class I co-convened shared this from Parker Palmer, which expresses well, a relevance.
“Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others;
rather it means never living apart from one’s self.
It is not about the absence of other people —
it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.”
Personal practice, for me, is about developing presence with self, so that that can be the root of being with others. Yes, in groups. Yes, in a world that tosses as it turns.