Practice vs. Habit

Habit implies unthinking.

Practice implies engagement.

A practice deepens, questions, articulates. A practice is about expansion, learning, extending your capacity.

Don’t get me wrong, I like habits. I’m in the habit of exercise, waking early, napping, reading, brushing my teeth, driving safely, treating the elderly gently.

Oh, but what I practice!



cultivating friendship 

being an experiential father 

loving Ann . . . .

A practice is exploration without end.


Turning goals into experiences gets you there

I’ve been pondering how to go from goal orientation to experience orientation. Do you sometimes get into the same haze? Where goal fixation can invite paralysis? 

Experience fixation, ahem, fixes that. 

I’ve noticed a few things I do well are the result of a series of satisfying actions. These recurring actions — generally recurring every day — deepen the experience to such a degree that the goal then becomes superfluous. 

The goal is attained, sure, almost as an afterthought, as a consequence of really luxuriating in the things that get me there.

It is the deepening pleasure of the repeated experience that drives me unerringly to the goal.

Let’s talk examples.

First, exercise. I’d always been active until a period about ten years ago where I fell out of the habit of movement, except that frenetic kind of movement you do when you lumber about your day doing what you do — in my case, running an art gallery. For around two years! Two-ish years of sloth living took its toll.

A photo woke me up. I was standing next to a heavy friend in the photo and you couldn’t tell who the lean one was — because the lean one wasn’t there!

After a bit of shrieking — Where is my lean self?! Who stole my youth? Who is that pastry-faced puffed-out piffle-man who resembles me? — I began a walking program.

It was all I could muster. And — significance alert — I enjoyed it. 

Also, I started tracking my walking routine in my planner. This was critical — you can’t lie to yourself and say you’ve done enough when your tracking system is telling you otherwise. 

Pssst: Tracking is the ultimate lie detector program.

What’s more is that not only did the walking become immensely enjoyable, rich with its own rewards, so did the tracking.

Over the years that walking program evolved into a weekly commitment of 3+ hours of movement, in whatever form. I like the flexibility, I like the variety, and so do my body and brain. It could be walking . . . or it could be yoga or biking or swimming or kayaking or treading water or intense play with my kid in the yard or some other activity. 

It does not include sex but from the heart-healthy benefits I read about, it should. Yes it should.

When I committed to a meditation practice, I tracked. I found enjoyment in the process, of meditation and of tracking.

When I began writing a book, and then this blog, I tracked. The goal — writing a book, writing a blog — became the experience of writing. Every day. Tracking isn’t focused on time as much as, did I write today? And — did I publish the number of posts I’d like to this week?

The action experience had to be juicy in itself. Or else how am I going to go at it again and again?

It is the experience I’m after. If I groove into the experience of movement or writing or meditation or some other mental-spiritual practice then the daily incremental actions propel me into surging momentum. Crafty, eh? 

The process — enjoyable experiences repeated often — unwinds itself inevitably into the desired result.

So now I immediately look for the experience that can be relished — repeatedly — that will lead me naturally to that which I seek.

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Is what is exciting meaningful?

We Americans are addicted to intensity. Why did I say Americans — humans! — we humans are addicted to intensity. Listen to the early myths or current songs or dramatic plotlines of any country you visit . . . passion is on display.

What is the news but the harsh intensities of the day?

Urgency is intensity but it’s not necessarily meaningful.

Coming of age is coming into the intensities that excite you.

Coming into maturity is coming into meaning, valuing meaning over intensity.

I was late to maturity. So I still find it useful to ask from time to time, is this meaningful?


Guess what clears out 87% of indoor toxins?

So — guess what clears out 87% of indoor toxins? 

(No peeking at the photo, please . . . .)


And you only need one for every 100 square feet or so for the purification to begin.

Plants and water. Can you think of anything more signifying of spirituality? 

Well, yes, butterflies too. Yeah, and dolphins. You in the back . . . of course, yes, eagles . . . you over there on the far right . . . hmm, not so sure about your Glock . . . but really, plants and water. 

And think, if that’s what one plant every 100 square feet can do indoors, what would a plethora of plantings outdoors accomplish? Who needs so much lawn anyway? Grass, schmass, put a real plant in there.


There are nights (The reward of a practice)

There are nights I am the fountainhead. In meditation I am the Himalayan spawning ground for great rivers of joy. I course appreciation outward . . . I flow love. I flow attention. I am gobsmacked by the torrents coursing outward!

In communion, in silence, I feel the wellspring of giddy LoveFlow rise up and spill out. At first I am directing it toward those who crave it most, be they familiar or unfamiliar to me. Then as I merge into the great Flow it is simply for those I love — all of them — and then for All That Is, known and unknown.

I am merely the river bed, the BeingFlow comes from the Source. This is what is mine to do: to open up and allow it entrance. 

I allow it in greater volumes — cascading, splashing, flooding through me — by quieting and tuning in. It used to take me much time to open the access point wide, I had that much crap spinning in my brain. Now it takes little time. That is the reward of a practice.

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From Roman carts to MomJo: Patterns live on

The couple who built the home we live in . . . live on . . . They live on in the structure, sure, but extraordinarily in the foliage. I estimate 50 to 75% of the plant life on our 1.3 acres was intentionally cultivated by them. There is a breathtaking sense of the wild and the natural and the where did that come from all mixed together in our yard. One thing spills into another. 

Frequently I find myself whispering in awe at their legacy.

Roman carts in Britain carved such enduring grooves in the pathways and roadways of the time that all subsequent vehicles were constructed with similar proportions — to better navigate the rutted roads of England. This pattern continued all the way down to the founding of railroads, so that the tracks laid down were similar in proportion to the wheelbase of Roman chariots . . . .

My Mom is an emphatically compassionate woman. If you get her on the phone, be forewarned, you will listen to her regale you with life tales of those she meets. That she might emphasize the woe is only because MomJo at heart is a caregiver, and she wants to get right into the marrow of a person’s life and emote it with them.

Her legacy lives in us, her children. We’re all fascinated by the deep turnings in the lives of people we meet. I know others who could care less, but that wouldn’t be possible for a child of MomJo.

The patterns we establish carry on, far beyond our horizon.

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I yessed it up that week: Yes, yes, yessy yes

There was a week this past year when I had a thought and said, why not, yes. I was inspired by Travis Thomas (30 Days of Yes).

A day later, while bicycling, I saw a yellow and red grasshopper  magnificent creature  crisp in its body armor. I said yes to it and managed at the last moment not to run over it. 

Another time, my boy ran in asking for a pillow  I was comfortably piled up in my favorite yoga posture  Nap Pose  yet, how could I not say yes?!

Somewhere in the week I said yes to something new. Our joy boy, who snacks on it from time to time, convinced me  and a friend of his  to try dog food.

His winning debate: how could we condemn it if we hadn’t tried it? 

(We did run screaming to the nearest sink to spew it out, yecky blecky ewww! How does the dog eat that s*!t? How does Zane?!)

I said yes to many things.

But no to drugs
except Mountain Dew. And Ann. My two drugs of choice. For those, yes, yes, yessy yes.

I yessed it up that week  yes, yes and yes!

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Zorba the Buddha: The convergent spirituality

According to Osho, a new human being is coming. 

He epitomizes this new type of human as ‘Zorba the Buddha,’ passionate for this material realm and transcendent simultaneously.

Can’t you feel it — the new spirituality is sensual too. Delight in the things of this earth is celebrated side by side with the ability to detach from excess.

For hundreds of years, if not millennia, in both the East and the West, self-denial reigned supreme. Self-flagellation, sleeping on beds of nails, wearing clothing that ripped at one’s skin . . . the inventiveness of the human mind for ways to inflict pain on one’s self and others in the name of divinity knew few bounds.

Zorba the Buddha is earthy and alive, capable of enjoying love and sexuality and all the joys of this planet. Zorba the Buddha also embodies serenity and soul connection, rhythmically dipping into the pool of deep consciousness to maintain balance.

It is exciting to behold this great convergence in our time. I use ‘our time’ loosely, it’s been coming since the Enlightenment, for hundreds of years. In earlier times the most exalted spiritually abandoned families and friends — think Buddha, think Jesus, think nuns, think the traveling mendicant with a begging bowl.

The convergent spirituality embraces the woman or the man who takes up a life, works in the world, moves among people. The convergent spirituality reveres retreats . . . yet is wary of those who must remain there, who don’t have the strength to engage in the flux of life. The convergent spirituality embraces the flow of Energy in all its guises.


After death? (Abraham-Hicks)

“What comes after death?” is like asking “What comes after lunch?” or “What comes after sleep?” or “What comes after now?” 

The answer is, MORE! 

More opportunities to focus, more opportunities to compare, and, gloriously, more opportunities to decide. 

You are Eternal Beings, romping about the Universe giving your careful attention to a myriad of subjects, finding pleasure and interest and satisfaction everywhere you turn — forever! 

~Abraham-Hicks, October 6, 1996


Bond genius does yoga inversions in the middle of the workday

A few years back I read an issue of Fortune Magazine that was especially revelatory. Fortune has a regular feature called How I Work. In it they take you through a synopsis of someone’s day, someone successful, generally in their own words, so you can see just how it is that this particular person worked his day effectively.

The overall focus of this particular issue was the How I Work theme, so a good number of individuals were featured. You learned everything from when she awoke to how she started her day to habits around and beyond work.

At one point — reading these how-I-tackle-the-day stories — I was startled to realize there were two divergent sets of successful workers.

The first was on the heart-attack track. You could see it in their photos. Overweight, reactive, pasty, work was everything, nothing else seemed to fit in well.

The second set of achievers were quite different. These people controlled certain aspects of their day to the exclusion of work so they could be in optimal condition for their life and their work!

It truly was revelatory. These optimal-life people fit in healthy eating, workouts, time to plan . . . all manner of brain and body and spirit enhancing strategies.

The most exciting of them all was Bill Gross, the Warren Buffett of bond investments. His results in bond markets over decades are legendary.

On a typical day he arose early — at least a couple of hours before daybreak. In the late morning he would take a break and go to a nearby gym for a lengthy workout that included yoga, finishing with inversions (various upside-down postures).

He noted he would often receive the best ideas when in a yoga pose . . . especially an inversion.

Here’s a bit worth reading about this fascinating man:

The Eccentric Lifestyle Of PIMCO Co-Founder And Bond King Bill Gross  

PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross is known by many to be the man that made bonds sexy. 

Most recently, he’s often sought out for advice from government officials after correctly calling the mortgage crisis and the dot com bubble.

But Gross is also known for his character and eccentric lifestyle, which some have attributed to his successes in money managing. But we’ll let you be the judge of that.

(read more from Business Insider)