Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Carried by Practice

The last several days, I have been caught up in a spiritual tantrum. A patient friend listened to me rant about my frustration.

I’m not feeling very kumbaya. I don’t want to cultivate compassion or acceptance. I feel judgmental and angry. I don’t like people very much right now. I’m mad at the universe for its relentless offering of opportunities to practice. My personal life, my family’s life, friends’ lives, and I don’t even know what to do with all the global angst and suffering. I am tired of practicing. Practice, practice, practice. I am bone tired, soul tired, heart tired. Energy exhausted. 

After giving voice to my meltdown, I didn’t feel better. I felt worse. After releasing all that pent up churning, I went home and plummeted into sadness, crushing, heart breaking sadness. I sank into surrendered silence. Breathe. One breath. Another.

Then Practice spoke to me:

That’s okay. You don’t need to practice right now. Stop struggling. You are wearing yourself out. Needlessly. I will carry you. I will get you through this.  

Oh. I realized practice is not a discipline. It’s a relationship. A healthy relationship of give and take on both sides. A relationship of trust and familiarity. And love. The deeper I go with my practice and the more consistent I am, the more I learn to trust that in tough times, the practice sustains me. Indeed, it does carry me and get me through.

I had forgotten. Wow, forgetting used up a lot of energy. I felt a bit foolish. But accepting of my foolishness. What’s that? Compassion peeked out and smiled. And okay, I might have felt a little bit kumbaya.

Behind the hardness there is fear
And if you touch the heart of the fear
You find sadness
And if you touch the sadness
You find the vast blue sky
 ~Rick Fields

15 thoughts on “Carried by Practice”

  1. Hi Galen – love this idea by Pema Chodron.“To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.”

  2. As a person that is just starting a spiritual walk a lot of this confuses me. Not the meltdown part. I understand that all too well but the other stuff. I do find that one thing i have learned in this very short time is to be ok not knowing. So I guess what I have learned is an acceptance of my spiritual toddler just figuring things out.

    Thank you for reminding me that everyone is finding their way.

  3. Talk about going through the wringer! Forgetting, struggling does take up a lot of unnecessary energy. I'm glad to know you could finally accept what you name your foolishness, and that Compassion greeted you there.
    Blessings, Galen!

  4. I love Pema Chodron because she is so down to earth, so practical, so accepting and cherishing of our humanity. This is a great quotation, and certainly relevant to me right now! I'm going to practice that "staying" and "sticking." Perfect. Thank you, Vishnu.

  5. Thanks, Martha. Yep, definitely felt like going through the wringer. And as you say, so unnecessary. And so human. My therapist used to say at such times, "Welcome to the human race." Hmm, I usually hated it when she said that — ha!

  6. Linda, it sounds to me like you have covered a lot of spiritual ground for someone "just starting." Beginner's mind is a wonderful attitude to have. And it's good to be reminded that indeed, we are all finding our way. Every day. Thanks for commenting, and if you ever want to chat about "the other stuff," feel free to email me at

  7. Linda, I just read this from your blogger profile: "Being grateful is my beginning spot and I think the rest will fall into place." I bow to the master.

  8. I have been working on staying on a even keel through these times. I fear for the future, for my country, and for our shared lives. It seems like it's normal to lose faith occasionally, and I need to let myself be buoyed up by Practice. Thank you, Galen.

  9. Buoyed up by Practice — I like that phrasing. Yes, after my little tantrum, everything evened back out. Practice came through once I let it. Thanks, DJan.

  10. Wow, I can relate to this one. I find that I get myself all upset over so many issues. I finally decided that what I need to do is practice not only reading my scriptures, but relating to the ones that bring me joy. Then there is reading a good uplifting book with a good ending and then beautiful music soothes my soul.
    I find getting into my prayers with real intent brings me inner peace and I can feel the spirit of happiness more abundantly. Then there is finding a way to serve someone. It is another source for me.
    Once I was told that when you feel down it's OK to Waller in it for a while, just don't get stuck.
    I'm happy that you have a practice that can bring you peace. I think we all need it in today's world of circumstances.
    Sending loving thoughts, comfort, love and peace your way!

  11. LeAnn, you have an abundance of practices. I love your "list" and descriptions. I'm sure others will be inspired by them.

    Your comment about allowing yourself to feel down reminds me of a story told by Marianne Williamson about a time when life kept knocking her to her knees. She said she kept getting back up, struggling more and more each time, until she realized that maybe she should just stay on her knees!

  12. Galen , we talk often about effortless action, here and on other media platforms. We know effortless action is mentioned throughout the Tao writings. I am learning that what we call practice is actually living naturally.Practice can be effortless. I am reluctant to say we should or must practice entering stillness. However, we always feel better after being still in mind and body. We practice awareness in all its forms. Awareness of what is within and without. Awareness of thoughts and emotions. So, it seems that awareness of what is including our negative emotions is all part of the teaching.

    Good post . Galen

    In imperfection we learn humility, compassion and love.

  13. That's exactly right, Brian. Great description of the practice of awareness. I found myself on the razor's edge and slipped into a struggle with practice. Out of alignment. Once restored, it became effortless again. Thanks for commenting.

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