Preparation for Practice
To prepare for practice is as important as the practice itself and allows us to develop the optimal conditions for the results and realizations to come through. The preparation can’t be taken lightly, it’s the first step taken after the guidelines were given and understood. The practice is what turns the information we received into wisdom. Through the experiences of the practices we internalize the realizations that before were just concepts, that way we generate an experiential understanding. Information and concepts come and go in our mind, are easy to forget. But experiences engage us as a whole, have emotions and feelings as well. That’s why people say that a gesture is worth more than a thousand words. Experiences have the ability to take root within us and turn into wisdom because are farther reaching into our consciousness.
If a regular average person wishes to run a marathon, just reading a book on the subject doesn’t make them a marathoner. They need to read, understand, follow the instructions, get ready and start training. Their training is their practice. With the information given and some practice, the person will acquire the understanding of which shoes would be more appropriate for their own body and needs, same with getting the proper clothing, nutrition and so on. But is this person never goes even once for a run before attempting their first marathon. That person will not run too far and give up very quickly, maybe because they are out of shape or their shoes were hurting. Then that experience will have an impact in their mind, they will judge it and label it.
There’s no need to set ourselves up and boycott our practice. The success of our practice depends on our preparation for it. It’s very easy to take practices lightly, not preparing properly and end up giving up quickly before giving ourselves the opportunity of achieving the results and benefits the practice can give us.
There’s an old saying that says that we don’t find happiness at the end of the road, but on the road, it’s in the walking, in the practice, in the doing; it’s in the experience of living the road of life. We see it as our destination instead of experiencing every step of the way. Why? Because if it was meant to be at the destination, we would not pay attention to the present moment, to the road and only to the end.
Many people live like that today, not paying attention to their life because they are focused on the gratification that may come in a possible future.
We propose to be present and enjoy the walk on this road, enjoying what creation has to show us. That attitude helps us to not take our practice so seriously, with a closed and frowned face, full of tightness, militaristic rigidity and strict control. Practice is to be taken lightly, is enjoyable, almost as if it doesn’t really count, otherwise wouldn’t be called practice. If we take it too seriously we have the risk of controlling the experience and it not being authentic. An open, curious and excited wondering mind is essential. It’s like a kid on a treasure hunt, super excited to find something interesting. The world of wonder is magical, and with that mindset, the experience of the exploration of the self becomes the most amazing event in a persons life. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t follow the instructions as given and think that we can cut slack and do whatever. It means that we should be gentle with ourselves and to happily follow the instructions as precisely as we can, diligently, with a soft and tender heart, a smile in our face and an attentive, wondering and excited mind. That’s what we mean by not being so serious about it and still doing our best.
There are four main aspect within the preparation to practice. First is the mind, followed by the emotions, the body and finally the space.
Attempting to start a practice without checking this four aspects is almost a guaranteed bumpy road with poor results. All the four aspects of the preparation should be followed and only when everything is in order and we feel ready the practice should begin.