Whether you are practicing Movement, Meditation or Metal-working, Yoga or Yiddish, these approaches will help you get the most out of your time:
Intention: Name and envision your goal. Get as many senses involved and make the contact with the desired outcome as rich as possible.
- It's not personal: In the words of my teacher Doug Duncan Sensei,"It's not personal, even when it's personal." We can notice so much more and transform so much more effortlessly when we can experience the phenomena of our existence not as 'me' or 'mine' but as the incredible dance of the Universe. Can we be fully present for whatever is occurring while not taking it personally?
- Be specific: Know and name what it is you are practicing. Examples from a movement practice might be: feeling my weight into the ground or keeping my awareness in my hips as I move. This then gives me a clear focal point for the duration of my practice session
- Stay Curious: What is present IS the Path. Whether we're getting what we don't want or not getting what we do want, it can be easy to feel that the current scenario is somehow wrong. The key to powerful practice is staying attentive in the present moment. This is only possible when we allow whatever is showing up to be there. Cultivating an attitude of curiosity can be an easy way to do this.
- Remember to Reflect: Allocate and take the time to do a review of your period of practice. Speaking key moments out-loud to someone else or writing things down are two possible ways to do this. It can sometimes be hard to feel like this time is worthwhile, after all, “wouldn't I benefit more from five more minutes of actual practice?”. In actual fact however, a review has the power to exponentiate the impact of your practice time, bringing back to mind critical insights, solidifying, enhancing and integrating the learning that happened during the session.
- Share the Love: Connect the benefit of the time you have just spent to the benefit of others. Recognize that an improvement in your own wellness and life ripples out to benefit others. Not only will this practice amplify the benefits you receive from your efforts, it makes the process a whole lot more joyful and fun.
These Foundational Steps come mostly from my experience with Buddhist Meditation practices. I have my beloved teachers: Doug Sensei and Catherine Sensei of Planet Dharma to thank for exposing me to the great wisdom held therein.