I didn’t want to do my practice the other night.
Let me tell you, of course, that I would have all sorts of excuses for forgoing my usual meditation: that I was tired, that it had been a long day and I needed to go straight to bed, that I had these dreadful hiccups that wouldn’t go away.
That I just didn’t want to.
It’s a funny thing, being committed to a practice. This intangible thread holds me to my nightly ritual; my own special time to connect with myself, my breath and the Light. I stitch my days together with this thread, and it takes me from week to week even when sometimes I feel like what is being held is only vast and expansive space. I keep hold of this thread.
Tally of “major” commitments in life:
An undergraduate degree.
Four years of marriage—which, at the time, I didn’t think would have an expiry date.
Three years of living in an ashram.
Enrolling in a graduate program.
Okay, and the numerous, infinitesimal ones we make every single day, or every single week. The choice to wear one pair of pants over another, saying “yes” in a meeting and then having to follow through on a task that may have previously been completely outside of my realm of comprehension, letting the dog out in the mornings and walking her every single day. Life is full of commitments.
The best kind are the ones I actively agree to, when I know that I’m entering into a contract that I have complete control over. I’m able to take responsibility for my choices—for these pants over those—without passing that power over to an external entity. The “yes” in that meeting is out of a pure desire to serve rather than hope that everyone thinks I’m so great because I have the willingness or capability to do new and difficult things.
I’ve made commitments. I’ve seen how they carry me and what they do for my life. I’ve broken them, too, and seen how that’s a whole new thing to commit to.
What does the power of commitment give us?
1. Connection to our highest selves.
I can set aside time and space to listen to what I know deep down is best for me, to write down my ideals—physical, mental, and spiritual—and use them as guide posts for moments I lack clarity of mind. Setting down in writing commitments I’ve made gives them a power. The power comes from the connection to my highest self they were borne out of.
2. Connection to other’s highest selves.
A teacher of mine who I also worked with was going through some health issues. I committed to keeping him in my daily practice, seeing him in the Light every day. Over the course of working together, conflicts would arise. I found I was able to see the human parts of us at play in our conflicts as separate from the highest potential of ourselves that would meet in my practice every day.
By dedicating a portion of my practice to those I care for and encounter on a daily basis, I’m able to get in the habit of perceiving them as their Light-filled essence. Of course I can’t do it all the time, but I can keep at it until it becomes easier, until it becomes a habit.
3. A framework to experience our own growth and evolution.
A commitment can be as small as taking note of a particular area of growth and stating it aloud or writing it down.
Once, I created an intention for what I wanted to work with in my week. I wrote it down and, as busy lives can be, completely forgot about it. One week later when I re-read what I’d written I was amazed at how there were numerous, specific examples of how I was learning in that exact area.
The power of commitment surpasses my conscious mind. It creates this special space for life to happen, whether or not I’m aware of it.
4. It carries us when we can’t carry ourselves.
In the moments where I struggle to step forward, when I come up against resistance to myself, I know I have a choice. I tell myself, “I don’t need to do my practice today.” And inevitably I choose to because I know through trial and error what my life is like when I do and when I don’t.
Hiccups or not, I can enthusiastically decide to participate fully in the best life that I can think up for myself. Inevitably, for me, that life includes commitment.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Flickr / Big Mind Zen Center