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Practice Makes Possible

Practice makes more things possible than we sometimes know. Meditation offers greater presence and psychic awakening. Working with one’s hands brings a steadiness to life. Observing the stages of a garden through planting, mulching, weeding, harvesting attunes one to the phases of moon and sun. Playing music every day tunes your life.

Yesterday, I broke up a fight during my shift at the soup kitchen. I used to break up fights often, when my job was to work full time in the kitchen, and I lived in the community that keeps it running. I was trained, on the job, in non-violent intervention, and learned how to interpose my body between the combatants and talk one of them down. This was where I learned the quality of what I now call “rehumanizing situations.” In order to bring two people back into a place of recognizing each other’s humanity, I first had to recognize my own, and then connect that with the person I was facing. If I could energetically reach them, or better still, get them to look me in the eye, the situation was easily diffused.

I haven’t had to break up a fight in years. These days, I’m only at the kitchen one afternoon a week when I’m in town. There are now people with more active experience than I, and yet, yesterday, I was the one nearby who saw the situation escalating, quickly moving from a few harsh words toward physical confrontation. I ran toward the guest I knew best, stood in front of him and started to talk him down. When he moved to get around me at the other man, I moved with him, blocking him with my aura, arms out, breathing deeply, using my voice to keep the peace. It worked. He backed off. The other man left the dining hall. The guest I was dealing with sat down, grumbling a bit, but shook it off quickly. The other people at his table gave him some space to calm down. I later saw them all talking together in a friendly manner. Humans sharing a meal.

The point of all of this – which I thought of as I returned to ladling potato vegetable soup into bowls, and sharing bits of conversation with the people passing by – is that if I had not maintained a daily practice of meditation, energy work, and centering, I would not have been able to break up that fight. Likely, my energy levels would have raised up and accelerated, rather than dropping and opening out. This would have matched and heightened instead of diffusing the situation. Other workers would have arrived in the middle of a fight, rather than on the tail end of a fight that never really got anywhere. My practice made this possible.

I think of a friend who played trumpet. He hasn’t practiced in so long that there is no way he could simply pick up the instrument and sit in with a band tomorrow. The muscles of his mouth are no longer fitted to the horn. His breathing isn’t quite right. When he was playing regularly, sitting in with musicians he hadn’t worked with before would not have been a problem. They would have figured out how to mesh. His practice made it possible. Now, though he still knows how to play trumpet in theory, and could pick it up much more quickly than a beginner should he choose to recommit, he can’t just call upon the instrument and play.

The same is true for any of our practices. It can feel easy to think, “I know this already. I can set it down now and move on.” But without steady application of will, intention, and time, we grow sloppy, less supple, less able to use the muscles needed to get the job done, whatever that job is. Also, older habits that we thought had lain to rest creep forward once again and we find our mind and emotions revisiting loops that keep us ineffective and maintain a comfortable status quo, rather than reaching for what we thought we really wanted.

Today, it is time again to choose. Let us all practice something. Anything. This month, I’m tuning my psychic awareness up another level through some techniques both new and old, studying more even while I’m teaching what I know. We can all do this. Our practice makes things possible. That can end up feeling perfect.

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