What is practice?

A practice is anything you do regularly that nurtures you. You can probably think of a dozen forms of formal practice off the top of your head: prayer or meditation, lighting candles or incense, ritual, chanting or singing, dancing.  All of these are ways that practice can happen.  Creative work can be a practice: writing, painting, collaging, taking photographs.  So can exercise or daily tasks, done with intention.

You probably already have dozens of practices of varying levels of intention.  Do you brush your teeth?  Say “I love you” when getting off the phone with your mother or partner?  Read for ten minutes before bed?

One of my simplest practices is saying a three-line prayer when I wake up in the morning.  My alarm clock actually scrolls the first words across its face when I hit snooze, so my early-morning brain doesn’t have to work too hard, and yet I open my day with my focus on connection.

At its core, though, practice is a way of carving a channel.  Like water over rock, a little trickle wears a groove and then a ravine.  Then when life comes in floods instead of trickles, our deep channels have room to hold all of that intensity.  Intention is the key that lets us carve the channel in the direction that we desire.

Here’s another truth about practice: for most of us imperfect humans, we won’t always love our practice.  It will not be fireworks over the altar every time.  Sometimes it will feel great, and other times it will feel bad, and often enough, it will feel boring.  This is okay.  The word “practice” means “to do over and over again,” which means we get a lot of chances to have the practice we want to have.

I hope that you’ll join me here to talk about practice and also — in a way you’ll see in just a few days! — to practice together, here in this imaginary online space.  Welcome to Leaning Into Mystery.

About Sarah Twichell

Sarah Twichell is a witch, writer, foodie, musician, semi-competent knitter, aspiring runner, and all-around logistical wizard.

  • http://inhumandecency.org/christine Christine Kraemer

    Glad you could join us! :)

  • http://jenmcconnel.com Jen

    Great post! Looking forward to more from you, and hoping for suggestions to deepen my own practice.

  • http://dashifen.com David Dashifen Kees

    Looking forward to more from you! This is an exciting column.

  • Meg

    I just found your blog, Sarah, and I absolutely can’t stop reading it. I have just come back to Paganism after many years in a Christian environment. Difference now is that I bring an adult perspective and many years of spiritual growth to my practice, whereas as a 20-year-old (what I thought to be) WIccan, I was just wearing the jewelry of Paganism rather than walking its path. As i have been reclaiming the path of my mother and my early childhood days — before my father forced us all into Catholicism — over the past few months, I have been studying constantly in an effort to define the path for me and make it my own. What i have been finding in this Internet age is a whole lot of chatter and what seems to be in-fighting — the “Witch Wars,” as I’ve heard it called. Your blog and your perspective are calm, refreshing, authorittive yet accessible and not the least bit self-aggrandizing, condescending or — OK, I’ll say it — silly. Not to say there aren’t wonderful people making videos about Paganism, but it’s just really hard ( as a
    revisiting newcomer) to know who to listen to. I have to trust my instincts on this, and they tell me that this is the place I need to be, Thank you for that!