Sometime All You Have Is The Practice

I've been struggling to write this post for a while now. I've started a few times, then veered off into other territory, perhaps because I just didn't know how to write this one. The Practice is never easy, sometimes it's near impossible, and, sometimes it's all you have in your life. Like my life lately.

A metaphor for my life lately…

Life can often be routine and planned out. Things go along in an orderly fashion and you just go along with it. An established practice brings order into your personal chaos. You are able to focus and get things done. Then other things happen that turn your world upside down and you wonder “What the fuck is going on here?” And somewhere in that topsy-turvy world you now inhabit, you can't find anything to hold onto, until you remember your Practice. Then in that moment you realize why you've been doing the Practice all that time, because it's really the only thing you have left to hold onto.

In the past 4 months, I've had a series of unrelated health issues that have played 'whack a mole' with me, continually knocking me back into a hole I needed to climb out of. I had to cancel all but 2 of my gigs, and much of my teaching, because I wasn't physically able to do any of it. The doctors basically told me not to do anything and my life came to a complete halt.

All this time off would seem a gift on one hand, but I couldn't even practice on a pad with a pair of sticks. Without my music, I concentrated more on my writing, like my blogs. Still, it's often been a difficult time just banging on a keyboard, forming words and thoughts into some sort of coherent package. Some days I barely had enough energy to get up.
 Even reading books was too much. But through all of this I never lost the idea of art as a spiritual practice

Sometime All You Have Is The Practice

It's funny how your brain works when it's put into different situations. Things the past months often seemed surreal to me, taking on some sort of absurdity where I became a detached observer. I recall laying on an ice cold table in hospital, with a flurry of activity around me, wondering where I was and how did I get there. Realizing I couldn't understand the outside, I headed inside, and started chanting to myself: nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo. This allowed me to focus on something and brought me back to myself. And later on, in the waking hours between what seemed like endless sleeping, while I couldn't physically practice any of my art, I endeavored to work on things mentally. 

Keep chanting
Keep chanting

Having maintained a steady practice for so long, I could mentally go through everything, giving my life a sense of purpose and familiarity. When everything else was gone, I still had the Practice. And the Practice still had me.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

You persevere. You keep moving forward, even when you have set backs. You reduce your life to the basics and realize that all the work you have done has created a well you can draw from: you are the practice, the practice is you.

You also realize that a break from your life is not a complete disaster. It can be a reset, a chance to clear things, reevaluate what you do, and then start out anew. And the thread that connects before, during, and after is your art, your spiritual practice. It is your path, your life.

I'm happy to say that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel and I have stepped into it. The recent set backs are now in the past and I'm moving forward, course readjusted to reflect a new perspective. 

Don't ever lose your art.
Don't ever lose your Practice.

~ MB


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