PRACTICE MAKES WISDOM
Today (as I sit here writing this) is the first year anniversary of my grandmother’s death. One year ago today her soul woke me up at 3:33 am UK time – the very moment she was passing from one life to another (9:33pm Denver time). In many ways she is more with me now than ever, yet in others I still miss our times of practice that we shared together.
“Practice” ? You might think. That doesn’t sound like a stereotypical granddaughter, grandmother activity.
I know but nonetheless this was the essence of the deepening of my relationship with her in the latter part of her life.
Every morning when I was in Colorado for a period of time I would religiously go to the yoga studio and practice. It was the same sequence of postures over and over again for weeks on end, and I loved every moment. Each day was different. Each pose brought me a new yet subtle insight into my body, my emotions and the craziness of my mind. Very unlike me, I found I was never bored. Instead I became fascinated by how much information I was ignoring in the manic busyness of my life. I always spoke to creation through the mechanism of my own body wisdom.
I would always go to my grandmother’s house after class (sweaty and exhilarated) and, on her demand, give her a hug before retreating to the bathroom to shower and do my laundry. After making myself presentable again I would make the two of us tea and we would sit in the same position around the old family table (where I had been fed at as a baby) and share stories of our practice.
What was my grandmother’s practice? Prayer.
She would stay up every night and say her prayers (for an hour or more) at the stroke of midnight. She had been doing it for years and it had become her daily meditation. Her sacred time when, just as I did on my yoga mat, she would come to her knees and talk to God. She would pray for her family, her community, her beliefs and herself. Each night followed the same pattern of prayers, yet yielded different answers. Often she would be presented with questions that she would share with me and we could explore.
Almost every day, over tea, we would share our practice and restory insights for each other. We rarely missed the opportunity to practice the art of contemplative conversation when I was in town. I had missed out on too many years of her wisdom whilst growing up in Europe and we were blessed with almost a decade of time to catch up and learn together before she passed.
Our stories were very different on the outside but similar from the heart.
My Grandmother once described the difference between us perfectly. She said with a sparkle in her eyes, “darling, you live your life on a stream of inspiration and I live mine on a stream of benediction.”
My following of the path of inspiration was a life long dedication, and her prayerful benediction was full of small yet profound daily inspirations.
As I sit here sipping my tea, wishing she was sitting with me physically, I feel her join me in spirit and brush away the smatter of tears as she always did on those days when I felt mournful. My grandmother never tolerated sadness for long. There was ‘far too much in life to be grateful for’ she would say.
She was right.
The story of our life is happening all around and through us in every single moment. Our daily practices, whether physical, spiritual or emotional, are the very things that bring awareness and choice into our story making.
It doesn’t matter if your practice is meditation, running, painting, reading or drinking coffee! Any practice that is done repeatedly and with reverence will over time breed wisdom.
Practice does not make perfect – it gives us fuel and endurance for the journey ahead.
It builds confidence and flexibility.
It creates real and lasting change.
But we have to come to it time and again.
We have to express our devotion to something for the sake of love.
In this case we are talking self-love. If you don’t commit to loving yourself enough to live your greatest story then no one else will.
True self love is to pick a practice and stick with it. Beyond the breakthroughs, beyond the epiphanies, beyond the failures and mediocre days where nothing seems to change.
Slowly, over time, the subtleties of your persistence will shine through in quiet moments. On the days when you do it despite the voice in your head telling you that you have a million other more important things to do.
Don’t waste any more time ignoring your practices otherwise life will pass you by and you will find yourself wishing that you had spent more time being grateful. More time talking to the people you love. More time sharing stories and offering wisdom through your Earth walk.
More time drinking tea in inspirational benediction.
In honour of grandmothers everywhere and the wisdom they hold, the Beyond Human Stories team is currently working on a new community offering that will allow you to enter into the practice of storytelling and storymaking on a daily basis. If you would like to be among the first to find out more, then make sure you sign up for our weekly storyhacks!
Make sure you practice the art of being you.
After all – no one else is here to live your story.