"Why do we 'practice' "- she asked. "Why is it that we don't 'do' this...like we 'do' everything else?"
She was sweet..young..and impressionable. She was intelligent...well-intentioned...and brand new to her mat. And her seemingly simple question gave me pause...and much about which to think. It took me a moment before I could respond.
We refer to this as practice because there is no prize at the end of the pose. There's no ultimate goal. There's nowhere else or other we need to be. There's no judgement. There's no measure or final count. There's no right or wrong..or good or bad. There's no better or worse. And more important - there's no end.
We practice to practice. We don't practice to perfect. We don't practice to compete or complete. We practice only so that we can feel and be. In this moment. Today...and tomorrow...and the day after day. Every day - a new chance to begin.
We practice as a discipline..as a science..as an art. We practice for the joy of practice. We practice because it is within that sustains us.
She looked at me puzzled...confused...unsure of this new and unfamiliar ground.
The practice becomes a tool..a lens..a mirror of self-observation. Thru regularity and repetition..we begin to see ourselves and our habitual patterns of being in this world. And - it is thru that exact same practice that we see ourselves changed.
It's not something we check off our lists as 'done'. Unlike all of the other 'things' and 'to do's' and 'actions'. It's not a project to be completed....an errand to be run...a house to be cleaned. Our mats become our metaphors for life. We practice strength and resilience and flexibility. We practice patience. We practice non-reaction. We practice the art of listening to ourselves thru our bodies. We learn the practice of self-care and love.
It was such a simple question..that begged an equally simple response. I'm quite sure she never expected such ambiguous complexity.
But - as I was explaining...as I was sharing..as I was speaking to the teachings of what I'd been taught - I couldn't help but remember. Just yesterday - it was me who was doing this asking. It was me who was wanting to know the ins and outs and what's and why's. It was me who wanted absolutes and clear answers.
Life began and ended with my list of what to do and when. My days were measured by the efficiency of my crossing one thing off and then another. The list - often - defining me. The concept of practice for no other reason than to practice - was certainly beyond the realm of possibility.
Yes - I was talking to her...responding to her particular question. But really - I was talking to me. That part and piece that saw me in she. Who and how I was once....and who and how I've come to be.
Definitely a little older. Perhaps a little wiser. And still..and yet - seeking and searching and practicing. Forever beginning. One new day at a time.