I started off this month’s experiment knowing that I don’t want to repeat my usual pattern of setting up a rigid expectation for myself. In my experience, all changes must come from within. Internal shifts and rearrangements then ripple outwards - my task is to allow myself to be moved, to be changed.

So, I have committed to no radical overhaul. No resolutions. No strict regimens. I have a few daily practices that I have usually adhered to, so rather than making these more elaborate or difficult, I became willing to give these practices precedent, and to observe what happens if I do them no matter what. I have other daily practices that are on the order of “bad habits.” No resolutions there either, other than to observe myself and see what happens as a result of watching.

I absolutely believe that attention and awareness are the key here. WIthout the demanding rigidity of being very wrapped up in striving for perfection. Just the consistency of watching, noticing, and allowing myself to be moved. This is a softening for me, and the release that come from the softening is a new, un-dreamed of freedom.

I am finding that sticking with observing and not making grand resolutions allows ups and downs to pass with little fanfare or upset. I’m not knocked off track from my aim by anything that I can do, whether it be a “failure” or a “success.”

One day, I was feeling discouraged. I’d been doing “good” and then I “slipped” - but wait, I reminded myself, I only said I’d watch. In fact, I noticed that as soon as I said, “I’ll do this every day” I immediately didn’t do it the next day. I repeated the habitual pattern of setting up an expectation of perfection, and this was blocking me off from actually doing the practice. So, watching is the key for me. I don’t think I’ve ever watched like this, on a daily basis.

I’ve been watching my patterns in behaviors I think I’d like to get rid of. Does purification of the mind require abandoning, in a sudden and radical manner, all worldly activities? I still have this imagination. “If I was going to really be doing tapas, I wouldn’t be doing these things that I do every day.” I’m wondering if that’s true. Wondering how to make peace with my current condition. How to prepare myself for better things yet to come.  

Through the changes that are taking place from this process, I feel like I’m coming back to life, gaining interests and enjoyment, discovering. I’m beginning to find a consistent quiet in my mind, or maybe it’s a tone underlying everything. And I still think I’m failing for not doing things properly! Well, I’ll keep watching…