As a person who often advocates “practice,” I’ve been exploring what it means to practice something. We might have lots of practices. I practice martial arts, for example. Some of us practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, loving-kindness, and more. When we have an intention to cultivate or develop a skill or a habit, we devote time and attention to it. We might seek a teacher, attend classes or workshops, read books.
But some things don’t need to be, or cannot be, practiced. A baby bird might practice flying, but it does not need to practice being a bird. It simply is a bird. An acorn does not practice becoming an oak tree. The transformation into an oak tree happens effortlessly according to its nature.
Some of us engage in practices hoping to become something we want to be, something we think we’re not. We seek to transform ourselves into some ideal that we fear we will never attain. And we never will because what we seek to become is what we already are. The seeking itself obscures the awareness of our true nature. It hinders our natural growth and transformation.
What is it that we seek? It goes by many names. Awakening. Grace. Enlightenment. These are not practices. They are natural states of awareness, oneness, peace, resonance. These natural states are not practiced. They are allowed. They are allowed by accepting Reality as it is, accepting ourselves as we are.
Allowing, in other words, can be practiced.
How do we practice allowing? The same way we practice anything – we set an intention, and we devote time and attention to it. We seek guidance and support if needed. Here are a few things I’ve discovered in this practice:
At first it was hard to recognize when I was not allowing. Now I know that when I’m struggling, or resisting, or trying to control something or someone, or judging anything (especially myself), I can be sure that there is an opportunity to practice allowing.
My resistance is always rooted in fear. Fear or anxiety closes the door to allowing. So first I need to acknowledge my fear, touch it with compassion, and release it.
Allowing is always rooted in trust. Einstein said that we choose whether to see the universe as hostile or friendly. That is another way of saying that we can choose to trust the universe to manifest its own perfect nature and to embrace us in its current. We can trust our inner wisdom to vibrate in harmonic resonance with this current and to guide us in perfect alignment with its movement.
Allowing often involves listening in stillness. We might not embrace a particular meditation practice, but we do need to quiet the loud chatter in our minds enough to hear the song of the universe whispering in our souls. We can take some deep breaths and simply listen within. We can be patient until our way is revealed.
As with any practice, we get better over time. Allowing becomes integrated into how we engage with our lives. It becomes a habit. There is a sense of effortlessness, wonder, humility, gratitude. The transformation of our lives unfolds naturally. We recognize, to paraphrase the Bible, that we are part of a universe marvelously and wonderfully made. We remember who we are, and live into the truth of our being. Allowing becomes our life art.
Perhaps you have not thought about allowing as a practice in itself, or perhaps you are an old hand at this. Wherever you are is your starting point from this moment forward. If this is a new idea, maybe you would be willing to give it a try. If it is a familiar habit, maybe you could share some of your own discoveries in the comments. Our different experiences can light the way for each other.
All suffering is the resistance of Reality. All awakening and healing is the letting go of resistance. Forgiveness. Allowance. ~The Way of Mastery