Growth is a process of learning to live more skillfully. This requires practice. We become masters of any skill with about 10,000 hours of practice.
So, to become masters at the art of living requires many hours of practice over a lifetime.
But what do we practice?
The answer is that we engage in the practice of love. Recovery is the practice of love. Love for ourselves, love for others, and love for Life.
Why practice love? The practice of love is good for us. Love helps us to heal from trauma. Love helps us to endure the symptoms of psychiatric illness. Love also helps us to transform our character. Through the practice of love, we eventually realize peace and fulfillment. Because of the nature of love, when we put love out into the world, the world generously resonates with us and love comes back to us tenfold. This is good for us.
So, how do we engage in the practice of love? I recommend:
1. Start the day with stillness. 30 minutes or more of silent prayer or meditation.
2. In stillness, set an intention to love yourself and others in all that you say and do. I recite the following intention to engage in the following 12 love practices:
a. This day, may I be compassionate to myself and others.
b. This day, may I be empathic with myself and others.
c. This day, may I be contented with myself, with others, and with my life situation.
d. This day, may I be generous to myself and others.
e. This day, may I be hopeful for myself and others.
f. This day, may I be affirming of myself and others.
g. This day, may I be forgiving of myself and others.
h. This day, may I be patient with myself and others.
i. This day, may I be humble.
j. This day, may I be grateful.
k. This day, may I be helpful to myself and others.
l. This day, may I be yielding to others’ needs.
3. Practice mindfulness throughout the day, stopping and reflecting when aroused. Try to respond, moment by moment, to what happens through one or more of the 12 love practices.
4. End the day with stillness. 30 minutes or more of silent prayer or meditation.
5. In stillness, reflect on the day. In what ways did you act with love? In what ways did you react out of ego-driven fear, anger, or self-centeredness? Be kind to yourself. Set an intention to learn from your mistakes and to do better tomorrow.
Practice these five steps with discipline and commitment every day. Memorize the 12 love practices and practice them every day. Be intentional about it. If you want, do it as an experiment for 90 days. See in 90 days if you don’t notice a subtle transformation of how you feel. With faith, patience, and persistence, you will gradually undergo a transformation into a beautiful, fully-realized person—the best that you can be. This will enable you to heal and to fully savor this precious gift of life.
Image from: https://desenio.co.uk/en/artiklar/love-overhead-lines.html.
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