I am really enjoying Reflections' current book study of True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. Although my personal practices are quite rigorous, I am always looking for ways to improve, deepen or invigorate them.
Sometimes when I hear about the practices of others, I find myself wondering if maybe my practices have become too shallow or hollow. But when I read mystical texts or sit at the feet of teachers both great and small, I discover instead that maybe I have reached a plateau in my current practices and perhaps it is time to deepen them.
Deepening a practice does not have to equate to dedicating additional time, or attempting more exquisite poses. Often it is the slight adjustment coming from a differing perspective or a new teacher. My yoga instructor Carrie replaced our previous long-loved instructor Sara. Sara, realizing that many of us were not progressing out of her class because of our love for her, raised the level of the class. And Carrie, oh my goodness, provides not only a rigorous training but also a wealth of yoga philosophy and eastern wisdom. We are all progressing in our yoga practice in ways we could not have imagined with Sara.
And it is similar with Hanh. My already laborious shadow work practice has deepened considerably. Just the notion of caring for your pain like a mother cares for her crying child has opened me in ways I thought unimaginable even late last year.
So I am stunned when I hear of folks eschewing further study as if there is nothing new under the sun. What planet do they live on? Everyday I am faced with such newness, such raw potential, how could you ever shut yourself off from this beauty, from this majesty?
My spiritual practices are not a replacement for study, as study is not a replacement for practice. As a Marxist-Leninist, I embraced both theory and praxis. And now almost 35 years later as a warrior mystic I am advocating much the same.
Study is in fact one of the threads of my mystery school. We are building spiritual scholarship alongside spiritual practice. And reaching outside of our comfort zone is one of the prerequisites for continuous learning. That is why I assigned such texts as Covey’s First Things First, Palmer’s Intuitive Body and Cameron’s Artists Way. And this year we turn to Buddhism to challenge our notions of what it means to open our hearts.
As a mystic, I can find truth almost anywhere, so I want my students to be familiar with truths outside their own. Like my beloved teacher Sara, if my students get stuck, I raise the level.
What is *your* practice? What do *you* study? And are *you* too comfortable?
Om, Namaste, Ashe, Amen and Blessed Be