Were I a deadwood ship
My heart a compass
I would leave with inanimate grace
Practice is a rudder.
All of those sayings about the importance of goals and the examined life serve to remind us that we are in motion. If we aren’t steering, then we are swept along. (Perhaps we are swept along anyway; I consider this a matter of personal theology. But either way, the choice is to go where the current takes us or to steer.)Practice is a way of steering. In practice, we carry out and connect to our intentions, ourselves, our world. As we regularly affirm those connections and intentions, they become more present in our lives.
(This, of course, is a double-edged sword: to what do you regularly give ten minutes of your undivided attention? Your job? Your loved ones? How about your body, the news on television, Facebook? Your gods? But one good way to change is to add in what you do want to have and let things you don’t need fall away.)
In crafting a practice, not all of us have the benefit of an established tradition or a teacher. But we do all have things we want, and these can help identify the practices that will feel most helpful. If you want stillness, try sitting or candle-gazing. If you want connection, go outside or make offerings. If you want inspiration, engage your creativity every day. What are you steering towards?