One of our biggest challenges is truly making our practice our own, bringing our Buddhist practice off the cushion (or your Christian practice out of the Church) into daily life. As we continue in our practice, aspects of the path come out naturally, without conscious thought—we maintain one-pointed calm in the face of work deadlines, or compassionate, helpful action arises of its own accord when we see somebody who appears to be lost, or we see a butterfly and, without a second thought, take a minute to appreciate its beauty and splendor, before continuing on our way. However, this process is on-going, and we can only devote attention to a limited number of practices at a time.
In a Dharma talk this past Sunday, our resident priest asked us how we apply our practice in our everyday lives. The responses were wonderful! One woman focuses particularly on developing patience, waiting patiently, being patient with others, being patient with herself. Another focuses on kindness, on always remaining aware of whether her responses to others are kind, and in being mindful of situations in which kindness could be extended to others. A man conveyed his practice of attention and connection; he explained that when traveling on public transportation, he practices seeing each individual person present as an individual, connecting with each of them briefly with his attention. Another woman focuses on her breath, maintaining concentration as her practice.
This Dharma talk made me aware that I try to include too many things at one time in my practice, thus artificially limiting my development in any one. One of my personal challenges is that I tend to be more interested in things, ideas, and structures, than people. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, I am making connection my practice. "What can I do to connect with this person?" "What does this person need right now?"
1-Minute Contemplation: What is your practice? How can you focus your practice for the greatest benefit to all beings? How can you improve your practice?