“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Like Carol Horton over at Think Body Electric (“What’s Too Woo?”, I have been asked, by my very own brother, no less, “What’s your spiritual practice?” For some time now, he has been a Buddhist most closely associated with various Tibetan lineages. At the time he asked this I was still a practicing Catholic. Translating this across the spiritual divide, I thought to talk about my involvement in opportunities for service within, and participation in the vibrant liturgy of, the community to which I had belonged. Still he asked, “Yes, but what is your spiritual practice.”
It took me a few years of yoga, not only finally to understand what he was asking, but also to appreciate what it meant to develop a spiritual practice. I’ve heard this really clearly articulated by some of my teachers lately. We practice yoga on the mat to take our yoga off the mat. Maintaining equanimity and equipoise in “a tight spot” in a particular pose on the mat is practice for those challenges we all face in our lives off the mat, by virtue of being human. Remembering to make a pose an expression of our “highest,” making time and space for delight, for instance, is also practice for meeting the people in our lives with an open heart. This is not magic any more than the observations of the ancients, such as Aristotle, are magic. I would like to suggest, then, that a life well-lived makes time and space for some form of spiritual practice.