How many of us are hesitant to commit to a practice because we don’t think it will make any difference in our lives? Perhaps a voice in our head holds us back, afraid of any change that could challenge our comfortable status-quo. Or perhaps we doubt our potential or feel unworthy of success, thereby dampening any enthusiasm we might have.
Practice has always been a daily part of my life, whether it be for cello, competitive swimming, or the spiritual practice of meditation. As a cello teacher, I often have students who come to me for a weekly lesson who haven’t practiced at all since the previous week’s lesson. This I try accept as a consequence of the busy lives we all live, but I urge them to make practicing as convenient as possible: leave the cello out of the case and set up a daily time so it becomes routine. Above all, I urge them to experiment for just one week, to practice as much as they can and see what happens.
Every time a cello student decides to take on this challenge their progress amazed me. There is a highly discernible difference in their playing. Huge. The results are crystal clear. It’s obvious to me as a teacher—practicing works.
For those of us who meditate, there are always voices that try to hold us back, keep us from our daily practice—like the one that tells us that it won’t do any good, so why bother?
But what if I were to tell you that there could be nothing further from the truth? A little positive attitude and practice goes a long, long way, as I have come to experience for myself in every endeavor I have undertaken, and as I see in my students at every weekly lesson.
Sometimes in my cello lessons I’m faced with a student who glares at me, seething with the thought that “see, no matter what I do, it still sounds awful. Just leave me alone to wallow in my failure!” Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done in this situation, until they start to feel some kind of positive flow of energy. But once they do begin to upwardly engage, they cannot deny the results. They see that they do have the ability to improve and the walls of frustration come tumbling down, sometimes with tears, sometimes with a smile. How often we keep ourselves narrowly hemmed in by our self-imposed limitations!
So now, how can I possibly deny the hidden potential for my own meditation practice?
Today I embark on my meditation experiment. Just as I see and feel the difference in my students, I’m going to meditate with the confidence that any practice I do is making a difference, and I am going to make some sort of progress, no matter how great or small. I will choose to believe the truth expressed in the Bhagavad Gita:
Even a little practice of this inward religion will free one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.
If I ever need to fight off a doubt of its effectiveness, I will go back into my spine, my center, and concentrate there on moving the energy.
I will constantly remind myself that just as my students have me for their teacher, I have a guru as mine, who knows the effectiveness of even the smallest of efforts and sees great potential for us all.
For this upcoming holiday season, take whatever time you have for your spiritual practice and engage in it with the positive attitude that it will make a difference—that it does work.
Will you join me?