A Word of Encouragement
I am frequently asked how practice benefits us in our daily lives. I normally say that to understand that you need to remember what you were like before you began a regular practice and imagine what you might be like now if you had not persevered.
Most of us pursue these arts because we want to feel different not just in our bodies but emotionally as well. We want to act differently, cope better or just feel the gentle emergence of our potential. In short we want to change something.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of a regular practice, I think it is always worth remembering the more subtle aims and changes that sincere, regular and correct practice offers us and how they translate into benefits.
Firstly these Daoist practices teach us to cultivate stillness. This does not come in one hit but evolves slowly. Obviously for some this can take much longer than others. It depends on what you are bringing to the table. Achieving stillness means that you always have a place to retreat to and re charge yourself as well as dissolve tensions and stress.
Secondly these arts also teach us to understand change and the need to constantly rebalance ourselves. This is what our practice does. Our practice becomes a blue print for understanding change in our daily lives and the means of moderating and balancing its effects. Practice slowly transform our habitual responses which are often distorted by the emotional lenses we wear. Practice is a form of correction allowing us a genuine rebalancing and transformation. The state we achieve in practice should become our default daily setting.
Finally and perhaps most importantly we slowly develop through practice an acceptance of ourselves. We become less judgemental of ourselves and others as well as events. Generally speaking the world is not out to harm us, we do it to ourselves. Being non judgemental allows potential to emerge. Judgement stifles especially when it is self judgement.
Stillness, staying balanced and accepting ourselves and others is the mindset that result from practice. It is a complex and evolving cocktail and sometimes difficult to realise or even notice. These qualities do not dawn quickly but in accordance with the quality and maturity of your practice. They are real states that have real value in life and although in themselves they will not change the world you are in, together they can change the way you are in it.