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This is Why We Practice


Do you know what’s harder than shoveling heavy, wet snow off the driveway? Chipping away at the mounds of thick, solid ice it becomes when, (in the midst of procrastinating), the weather turns wicked and drops to single digits, crystalizing every puddle, every footprint, every sloppy patch that wasn’t properly addressed.


This was my life last week.


I couldn’t find an ice pick in the garage so I crouched with a hammer, pounding the living daylights out of my glacier driveway. At first my goal was the little path next to my car. But something about smacking the ice with a hammer felt deeply healing! So I kept going.


My hands were throbbing. I started sweating inside my winter coat. I couldn’t stop. Whack, whack, whack. It reminded me of kickboxing - something I took up during the worst part of the divorce. The pain and the release. The need, that transcended words, to keep punching something until my arms could barely raise themselves. The wringing of a wet rag. An old mess redeemed. A reckoning.


This is what I’ve come to know, at this point in my life: avoidance only makes a hard thing harder.


Shoveling half a foot of wet snow felt overwhelming. I turned away from the task and then the task shifted from awful to Herculean. The longer we avoid what wants to be addressed in our lives, the heavier it gets.


“Out of sight, out of mind” is not very true actually. Out of sight, out of consciousness is more accurate.


But our consciousness is only the tip of the iceberg. What about everything that lives below? In the book The Holographic Universe, I read about the possibility that our brains hold a record of every single second of life we’ve ever lived in this incarnation. What if that’s true? What if the parts we’re consciously aware of are only one tiny aspect of what our bodies know?


I wasn’t consciously angry as I was beating my driveway with a hammer (to the horror of my neighbors who already take issue with me for allowing my lawn to grow to bohemian lengths all summer long). And yet, as my body went through the motions, anger came racing out. Not the story of who/what I’m angry at or why. Just the raw feelings of rage and anger. The story connected to it came later. In the moment, it was just a sensation. Like a sneeze. Something that came over me and wanted out.


We can’t trust our conscious minds to tell us the whole story of what we need. Our conscious minds don’t know what the rest of the body knows. They only know as much as we’ve been able to drag upstairs from the basement and parse through.


Without a daily spiritual practice like meditation, walking, writing, we will journey through our lives with giant blindspots. We submit ourselves to daily practice not because we feel like it but because we don’t feel like it and we refuse to allow our resistance to rule our lives!


We submit ourselves because we want to know what we don’t know. We want the feedback from ground control. We want to create a space for whatever is wriggling around deep down inside of us to come up to the surface, speak its peace and then be free.


We’ve all been through so much over these past few years. There is waaaaay more going on inside of us than we can consciously understand or process on the intellectual level, with our minds. Prioritizing whatever your version of ice + hammer might be is essential now. Look for ways to let some of what’s in you: out.


Your hands will hurt and your shoulders will be sore but in a satisfying way. And the next day, you’ll feel a little bit lighter. You might even want to go out there and do it again.


With love and healing,