I’m writing today from bed. I woke at 8:15 this morning, the equivalent of sleeping until noon for most folks. I could barely open my eyes, much less propel myself across the room. My mind is fuzzy and my bones ache. Once again, my body has mistaken high humidity for poison, causing a hideous autoimmune attack.
I planned to write a blog post today on continuous practice, celebrating another 100 days. I wanted to shout and cheer about all the reasons you should join in for the next 100 days. Maybe it’s enough to know that despite the fact that my fingers are stiff, my neck and shoulders ache, and my head is completely congested, I am here pushing my pen across the page. Maybe that is testimony enough.
I am no guru.I do not claim enlightenment. Life in my house tends toward the chaotic. Most days I’m struggling like anyone else, awash in responsibility, distraction, and interruption.
My dog peed on my yoga mat this morning and pooped there the day before. Every time I sat down to work yesterday, I faced some glitch in technology. There is no end to the interruptions. On top of everything, I have a cornucopia of autoimmune disease that forces me to rest several hours every day and occasionally leaves me flat for several days in a row. Friends and relatives express their amazement that I’ve continued this practice for the last 192 days. But I’m not some superstar for showing up.
Continuous practice supports me and not the other way around.
Twenty minutes of writing practice every day no matter what means you are in constant conversation with the voices in your head, meeting yourself every day exactly as you are–some days calm and content, other days anxious and aggravated. You learn to accept and loosen the grip on your thoughts–what you think you should be doing or thinking or feeling. You learn to let the thoughts pass.
I am not doing this alone, but supported by an amazing community of people who’ve joined. I am tremendously grateful to them. Seeing their photos in my Facebook and Instagram streams day after day reminds me we are not alone. When we sit down on the mat or put pen to page, we connect to ourselves, to each other, and to the world around us. We remember that we are all interconnected.
I asked people in our Facebook forum to share what they’ve learned through continuous practice these past (almost) 100 days. Here are a few of their responses:
I’ve learned that continuous practice is possible even on the days when i have absolutely no desire to put pen to paper.
It’s better to be honest with myself on paper because it’s teaching me to be honest with myself in person.
It’s always there – a creative home to come back to.
I need to save my willpower for larger things than daily discipline.
Patience with myself.
The confidence that I can actually do it.
One hundred days may seem daunting. Believe me, 365 days still feels nuts. But you can take it in pieces. My friend, Deb Saine of Logansport, Indianna, the first person I met during my first workshop with Natalie Goldberg in 1999, commits one week at a time. She began with seven days and is now on Day 92. Beth Howard committed to 100 days of haiku and on Day 60, spontaneously began taking photographs to go with them. She says, “The magic of the 100-day practice for me was in the way every day practice transformed into something new. This didn’t happen until after 60 days, reminding me that it takes a lot of practice and time for something new to be born”
A few things I’ve learned this past 100 days:
Continuous practice provides a place to begin each day and each week. Come Monday morning, you know exactly what to do.
Continuous practice reminds me that life reflects mind, that the interruptions are inevitable and the challenge lies in continually returning to the deep belly of breath and practice.
The most humbling aspect of continuous practice: facing yourself and your imperfection day after day. The most liberating aspect: accepting that.
Continuous practice is not a marathon (though some days it will feel like it) or some grand achievement. It is simply showing up and cultivating a relationship with Mind.
There is no perfect, just showing up, day after day, after day.
What about you? What kind of commitment would you be willing to make to practice? Seven days or 100? To join us, see my last post on Continuous Practice here.
Or drop me a line and let me know how I can help you start showing up for yourself.