There are a lot of yoga practitioners out there. I count myself as one. I practice at least a little yoga every day. For me it is the avenue by which I came to recognize and respect my own body, which was necessary before I could begin to care for it. I was in denial of my body for many years. In my 20’s, though I looked fit, I could not touch my toes without bending my legs. One cannot gain flexibility without a regular practice, because it is a gradual process. And one cannot be truly strong without flexibility; if you can’t use the full range of your body’s movements, your strength is hobbled. I believe this applies to flexibility of the mind, too. If once lacks mental flexibility, one cannot learn.
Many say we should all develop a spiritual practice. This is about choosing at least some thoughts and actions that are oriented toward our highest values and goals. A cup of coffee might not satisfy this. Having some small fraction of each day that is dedicated to the big picture, to the people and things that we most love, is a simple way to remind us that we are part of that Wholeness that is the World. Regardless of your belief system—and even if you are firmly atheist or mildly agnostic—you will benefit from such a practice. The research tells us that you will live longer, be less depressed, and be more likely to request life-extending medicine when your time is short. You will love life more.
I personally have been mulling on these ideas of a practice because I now have a medical practice as well. What is the core of my practice? It is evolving. Perhaps the most important thing I can do for my patients is to help them to notice the great blessings that abound as long as we live. The irritants of daily life are passing things, often irrelevant in the longterm. I practice meditation, gratitude, kindness, the four agreements, and also being in nature. My church the is river, sky, mountain, snows of winter and buds of spring. Science shows that being in natural environments lowers blood pressure and stress hormones, but I believe it does more than that.
I also practice Feng Shui. Not in any traditional way, but in the deeper concept. Feng Shui taught me that the physical things that surround me either facilitate or impede my practice. I strive to make every item in my space a reminder of all I have to be grateful of, and what I am striving for. If physical things get in my way, I move them. If they are not moveable, I move other things to improve the flow.
So now you know my practice. What is yours? I look forward to hearing about it.