To change the pattern of our long-standing practices is usually an incremental and not typically a sudden shift. The rapid overnight kind of change is often not sustainable unless we fully understood the impact of the sledgehammer that hit us. How many people do you know that continue on the very degraded path they have just suffered on (post sledge hammer)? This is not to say that it can’t happen. It can, but this method, if we can call it that, is often harsh, catching us unprepared, i.e. the sledgehammer method.
However, large-scale events can result in long-standing change to our practices. We may have just been on the wrong path, but yet still on a valid attempt to grow spiritually and kaboom- new information/understanding transforms us forward. The quake of the event may have been required to shake the unstable foundations of our inadequate posturing to movement in this life. Many other possibilities can be listed from a big bang prompting.
The point being that, for our own selfish comfort, a reduced level of change to ‘moderate’, probably is more acceptable for most of us most of the time.
The “saddle point”, is not to rise up too much at one end and not to rise too low on the other end. Basically, the middle way.
In general, when we institute (often with great fanfare) a new diet, exercise, or discipline, we think short-term and ignore the process of ‘how much’ at the peril of losing all momentum for change. “Gung ho baby, let me at this new practice because I sure could use the results that come with all that jazz.” Enthusiasm is a beautiful energy but usually cannot be successfully sustained unless the practice is reinforcing the new practice.
Evaluation of whether this is the optimal way for us to incorporate change in a particular ‘way’, is paramount. Our research and reasons for making a change are just as important as the incorporation of the change. Without the legitimate convincing of self as to the concrete viability of the new practice, we will not abide in it without this motivation. Clearly, we must be committed to this idea and it must be done for ourselves and not for pleasing anyone else. Even to commit to a practice for someone you love, is dicey and historically fails in too many cases.
The new practice or change in patterning must be something that compels us deeply. Without the depth of commitment, it will generate to a flash in the pan. Ask, in a quiet moment, “Is this the change I am looking for at this particular time?” The answer is, when you Know you Know. Until then, steadily pursue the question vis-a-vis the form of energy we would like to pattern.
So often, if we are open to the Universe, the answer may come inimitably through another person, situation, opportunity, or positive affirmation of events. We are forewarned by our experience to be cued up for being aware of the various vehicles which may be used to assist us in our pursuit of Self. The Moment and our immersion in the Moment, is really a super-ready status. Seeing is optimized and our connection to the WI-Fi of Beingness is solid in signal.
Assuming the above, consistency and solvency in practice is critical. Practice, especially in times of duress or stress that will inevitably occur, is essential. This is when we continue, not drop, our ‘good’ practices. Only in a very minority of moments should we acquiesce to ‘skipping’.
The benefits are achieved through this constancy and the motivation and will to go on, shall be buttressed by the distinct advantages of the performance of practice versus the failure to practice. In other words, it will be easier to practice.
At the outset, the amount and selection of activity we commit to should be enough to make it interesting and not too much to make it impossible/difficult. This ratio and the practice activites will change over time to more or less, depending on health, stage of life, and other life variables. Adaptation is a part of it all.
40 years of daily practice can transpire with an upending of vasanas that have plagued us all of our lives (and possibly, then some). Establishing practices when we are younger is easier to do than at an older age.
More importantly, starting now and accomplishing steady sustainable practice is what we must do for Ourselves.