Freedom in the Discipline of Practice

Freedom exists in the everyday discipline of practice. Practice might be sitting down each morning to spend time witnessing the nature of mind, but formal practice in quiet solitude where we are exempt from our daily triggers is not, on its own, the practice that sets us free. Rather, practice exists in each and every interaction that we engage in with others, ourselves, and our lives. Practice requires discipline not only to remember our capacity to observe ourselves through daily experiences, but also to meet ourselves there with kindness.

In recognition of our whole lives as practice, we find that freedom exists in the messy moments, as much as any of the others. We only lose sense of it by having forgotten to look for it, particularly when things are hard. Freedom exists as we are running late and disheveled, when we are in an argument with our spouse, and when we are in the face of an impossible work deadline.

We find freedom when we notice ourselves lost in an old narrative, so as to allow our furrowed brow to soften. We find freedom when we notice anger burning in our chest, so as to be able to breathe and listen before speaking. We find freedom too, in moments of noticing that we forgot our practice all together. We can free ourselves again and again, finding that we’re in a position to respond and navigate our interactions wisely, rather than digging ourselves down deeper in reactivity. What a relief it is to know that we are free at our best, at our worst, in the quiet solitude of formal practice, and most importantly, in the messiness of everyday life.

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