Theory is my loyal companion. Practice is my flaky friend. ~ Alicia Banister

Via elephant journal
on May 17, 2012
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Photo by Jasmine Kaloudis

Walk With Me, Talk With Me…

Lately, I’ve found myself aware of the pairing of theory and practice. These days I am meeting theory and practice like two friends for coffee.

Theory is better about showing up. Theory is always on time and guaranteed to always have plenty to say. Theory is easy and comfortable to be around, even when things are challenging. Theory and my head are like two peas in a pod. We can talk until the cows come home about what it means to live open-hearted and what it looks like to step into vulnerability. We’re really good at talking about that…

Photo by Lo Lozd

On the other hand, practice is the sometimes flaky friend who is pretty much always late and only really shows up because we’ve had to have a few conversations about reliability. Practice and I generally have a cup of tea (we gave up coffee four months ago) and go for a walk.

Theory and I talk. Practice and I walk, but sometimes I don’t want to walk. It takes a lot of energy to engage with practice, so I choose to hang out with theory because it’s more comfortable. Lately I’ve been getting bored with theory. I know, I know! How is that possible?! Theory is entertaining and engaging and exciting and stimulating. All of that is certainly true, but theory lacks action.

Spring has showed up big time here in Boulder so my body needs action. I need to shake off the winter, stretch, move and clear my hibernating system. I am ready to get going with the practice of living and be in the world. So practice and I are meeting more regularly lately, and theory comes along too. The three of us are uniting: theory, practice and me. Practice teaches me how to integrate theory. It’s exciting and challenging. Hanging out with practice feels like moving my body in a new way. It is like I’ve been guarding an injury, but it’s healed now. I am learning new mobility.

I was talking to a teacher of mine recently about a personal struggle. She asked me if my belief was really the way things are or if my circumstances have actually changed. She hit the nail on the head. Just because something was a certain way does not mean that it is still that way. It takes reframing and actively engaging with now to realize that things have shifted. Over and over things change.

Theory can help us recognize patterns and learn how to re-pattern, but it’s practice that helps us see when we’re actually somewhere new. By engaging with practice we’re actively participating in the evolution of our lives. Practice is integrating theory into our systems and living from that place.

Need a more concrete example? I went to yoga tonight. I’ve been going to this class now for about three months, my first foray into more advanced classes after three years of practicing yoga. I’m pretty diligent about it, but every Monday afternoon I get a little trepidatious. The class pushes my edges. It makes me feel uneasy, mostly because it invites in all of the really loud insecurities that I’m good at quieting when I stay within my comfort zone. I started going to this class because it was time to move from theory to practice.

Intellectually, I’ve been exploring what it means to find my edge and to inhabit my body, to know my body and be present with it. It’s hard to know what it’s capable of if I keep it comfortable, ya know? So in a way, going to this yoga class, with all the attendant uncertainty and self-doubt, is my way of engaging with the practice of knowing and exploring my body. It gives me a chance to be present with myself. I can witness the voices that try to keep me from stepping outside my comfort zone. It’s rewarding like I’d never imagined. I’m learning to integrate the theory of presence and self-awareness.

It’s hard, no two ways about it. Like I said, sometimes I don’t want to go for a walk. Sometimes I just want to cradle a cup of hot tea in my hands and talk. Practice is not easy, but we keep at it. We keep at it and through that we learn how to show up for ourselves and we learn to trust ourselves. We learn to see what’s right in front of us, to be with it, and we learn that there’s room for all of this—the talking and the walking.

Photo by Mario in arte Akeu


Alicia Banister swims in the sea of bodyworkers in Boulder, CO. as a CranioSacral and Massage Therapist.She is not very good at sleeping late or cutting in a straight line. She is really good at regularly feeding her dog, being in the woods, cooking, laughing loudly and often and making mistakes. She regularly marvels at the human body and the breadth of its inherent healing capacity, as well as the fantastic beings that inhabit those bodies. She makes it a practice to let life humble her as often as possible. And to remember to have a sense of humor about it all. You can find her ramblings at and


Editor: Carrie Stiles





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6 Responses to “Theory is my loyal companion. Practice is my flaky friend. ~ Alicia Banister”

  1. dragonfly says:

    i love this! thank you. was listening to an interview with reggie ray last night where he said it so well "ideas don't change people, practice changes people"… between that interview and this article i think the universe is trying to tell me something… i will now go away and think deeply about what that something might be : )

  2. Anamaya Yoga says:

    Love it! Yes, nothing gonna change if we don't break our comfort zone. Theory provides knowledge, but Wisdom? it's only practice and experiences that creates wisdom. Knowledge is a burden unless we use them in practice.

  3. reflectionsmassage says:

    ahhh, wonderful! i'll be curious to hear what you come up with. hooray for listening to the universe!! 🙂

  4. reflectionsmassage says:

    beautiful! so important, too, that distinction between knowledge and wisdom. to get there you have to be willing to lean in to the practice.

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