If you have been on the fence about joining us for this 365 Days of Continuous Practice, perhaps I might tempt you with a few reminders of who we are, what we do, and some words of wisdom and encouragement from a few of our members.
WHO WE ARE
Continuous Practice is a community of artists – writers, dancers, musicians, and visual artists – committed to daily activity that is a priori to our work. By showing up and documenting our practice online, we support one another and keep ourselves accountable.
Practicing as a community, we become conscious of our interconnectedness, knowing that when we sit down at the page or the mat or the sketchbook, we are tapping into something larger than ourselves.
On our Continuous Practice Facebook Forum, we hold space for one another by showing up each day. We practice, document, and post to the group. We see a friend in Colorado posting and another one in Louisiana still practicing. A school teacher writing before classes, a mother of three meditation before the kids are awake. It helps to know that others are on the journey with us.
We are all beyond busy. We are parents of small children or children with special needs. We are solopreneurs or dedicated employees doing work we love. When we finally get time and space to ourselves, we’re so far away from our creative work, we need a compass to find our way back.
That compass is practice.
“This community gives me courage and much-needed reminders to continue,” says Cindy Huyser, poet and co-editor of Texas Poetry Calendar, published each year by Dos Gatos Press.
Tambra Nelson, an energy worker, healer, and student of writing practice, says the community gives her silent and loving support. “The group encourages me to go back to the page, the cushion, the rattle-whatever I have committed to and more. We are not alone here.”
Practice is showing up one day and then the next. You make the commitment anew each day, push past your resistance, and then you’re swimming. Practice holds you up. And so does the presence of other practitioners.
When you show up for regular practice, you build a foundation, a place to return. You create your own safe harbor. Come Monday morning, you know what to do. You have a place to enter your day and your work week.
As artists, when we have a regular practice, we affirm life in all its complexity as well as open to the world as it moves through us. We tame the ego, listen, wait for what calls, and respond through right action.
Here is Natalie Goldberg’s description of practice ing The True Secret of Writing:
It is something you choose to do on a regular basis with no vision of an outcome; the aim is not improvement, not getting somewhere. You do it because you do it. You show up whether you want to nor not. Of course, at the beginning it’s something that you have chosen, that you wanted, but a week, a month in, you often meet resistance. Even if you love it, inertia, obstacles arise: I can make better use of my time, I tired, I’m hungry, this is stupid, I need to listen tot the evening news. Here’s where you have an opportunity to meet your own mind, to examine what it does, its ploys, and shenanigans. That’s ultimately what practice is: arriving at the front — and back door — of yourself. You set up to do something consistently over a long period of time–and simply watch what happens with no idea of good or bad, gain or loss. No applause–and no criticism.
Dogen, the founder of the Soto School of Zen Budhhism says this about Continuous Practice:
If you attain one day of continuous practice, you not only attain the practice of one hundred years but you awaken others for a hundred years.
Writing about where I am has helped me notice which creative projects feel the most aligned and urgent,” say writer and fabric artist, Lauren Ayer. “This helps me prioritize from a more meaningful place than shoulds or deadlines.”
HOW IT WORKS
Select a practice –meditation, writing practice, drawing, photography – anything you show up for every day without expectation or thought to outcome. I chose writing practice for 2015 because I was already doing it regularly, so it didn’t feel like a huge leap. But you might also consider a practice you’ve been longing for. In 2016, I switched to meditation.
Keep it Simple. Choose one practice and keep it simple. Ten to twenty minutes of writing practice or meditation, for example. Some folks have committed to a haiku practice, others to singular moments captured on their iPhone cameras.
Be Flexible. If after a week or two it become clear that you won’t be able to maintain the practice you selected, modify it. Instead of 10 minutes of meditation, plus ten minutes writing, you might give yourself the choice of one or the other every day. In 2016, when I couldn’t maintain a daily Zazen practice, I gave myself the choice of zazen, yoga nidra, or some other guided meditation every day.
But Don’t Quit. You will probably want to quit at some point – most of us do — but the learning comes from staying in there. That doesn’t mean you can’t skip a day or even a week – that is the meaning of WILDLY IMPERFECT – but keep coming back. The beauty of cultivating practice is that you always have a place to return.
Keep track of your practice. Check in every day (or as many days as you can) and let us know if you practiced or not that day. But don’t get caught up in the number of days in a row you practice. The point is to have a relationship with your practice. If you don’t practice on a given day, just say “skipped” and continue without shame. In meditation, our thoughts wander, but we keep coming back until the allotted time is up. Same with Continuous Practice. While it’s exciting to see the numbers add up because we see what we’re capable of, it’s just as important to develop compassion around missing a day. Practice is always about this moment.
Document Your Practice. At the end of your session, snap a picture or make a note of where you are. Post the photograph or description of your practice and locale and post to the Facebook Forum (I will add your name as soon as you are ready to commit). If you post to your feed as well, please include our hashtags #continuouspractice #WILDLYIMPERFECT
Question: Leave them in the comments below or use the contact form.