What You Practice, You Become

“What you practice you become; what you become has consequences” —Anonymous

Health and happiness become a real possibility for those who put enthusiastic effort into a daily self-care practice. Indeed, every wellness goal you aspire to depends on effort and practice. If this were not so, it would be easy to achieve your health objectives.

Effort in this case means doing what is necessary to achieve the goal. There are two forms of apathy that prevent a person from doing what is necessary to accomplishment his or her objectives, they are:

  1. The voice in your head causes you to procrastinate by involving you in distracting activities
  2. The voice in your head discourages you, so you give up

When enthusiasm and calmness are present inside you, the voice in your head changes. It becomes your supporter rather than your detractor. When this happens the two forms of apathy disappear and correspondingly prevent any added stress and disillusionment from arising. Aspects of a daily self‐care practice:

Mark in meditation post

  1. Make it a ritual. Create and maintain a sacred space in your home. It won’t happen if you try to practice on the couch in front of the coffee table and magazines. Also, make an altar, upon which place sacred objects—objects that have special meaning to you, that remind you of spiritual teachers, friends or loved ones, special places, or transitions points in your life.
  2. Become a life‐long learner: Do some spiritual reading everyday. The way we think is the way we think, and so far, that’s what’s been causing all of the problems. The only way to change the way you think is by putting yourself on a diet of enlightened ideas. This is why I recommend daily reading. Discover the truth about your internal reality (biology and psychology), read about meditation, and find out how the Universe works. Dharma is a word that means the way things are. Find out about the way things really exist. You’ll suffer less as a result.
  3. Engage in daily formal meditation and informal mindfulness practices
  4. Take some time to participate in daily movement and exercise
  5. Lastly, find a way to give back. Find a way to make your life meaningful (the true source of happiness) by contributing to the welfare of others.

When you begin to practice self‐care a profound transformation takes place. Every moment, millions of neurons link and unlink in your brain. This happens to everyone; it happens to children and old people, the healthy and the sick. The process is slow but powerful. Thought of broadly, your brain is in a constant state of change. Scientists call this persistent brain rewiring, “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity is driven by the following factors:

  • Whatever a person loves or hates (emotion) captures his or her attention
  • Paying attention focuses the activity of the brain (concentration)
  • Repeatedly concentrating on the same thing causes new neural links to form

Therefore emotion, concentration, and repetition hold the keys to neuroplasticity. What this means is, the more a person engages in certain thoughts or actions, the stronger the neural connections associated with those thoughts and actions become. If, on the other hand, a person refrains from engaging in certain thoughts and actions, the neuronal links associated with those thoughts and actions weaken, and can eventually, break. From this perspective, neuroplasticity is the both the basis for learning and memory and also explains how a person might change or heal.

Meditating is a way of self‐directing neuroplasticity. In other words, a person who observes his or her suffering can learn to heal it. By repeatedly placing attention, and remaining aware of the flow of thoughts, feelings and sensations, you will change yourself. These facts argue for the necessity of a daily self‐care practice. If you would like support in starting your own daily practice, please contact me through this website.

Many well wishes,

Mark

2 thoughts on “What You Practice, You Become”

  1. Dear Mark,

    I trust that you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with your family. I received the meditation program in the mail yesterday. Interestingly, and maybe not surprisingly, reading the the instructions on choosing a sacred space and creating an altar gave me some anxiety. And yet, as you relate in your story, the Universe provides when you are ready to receive.

    My husband and I split our time between our homes in Connecticut and Woodstock, New York. This morning we drove back together to Woodstock, and stopped at the midpoint in Millerton, New York to eat breakfast at a favorite diner. As we left the diner, I asked him whether he wanted to peek into a shop called “The Village Herbalist”, and so we did. And we both found truly amazing and miraculous things within the store.

    Here is what I found:

    1. A medallion with a goddess meditating on one side; and on the other these words, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

    2. A bouquet of dried lavender to place on my altar in my sacred space.

    3. A beautiful soaring angel, hand-carved in wood from Bali. To remind me of my beautiful and strong inner spirit.

    4. Finally, a “Goddess Guidance Oracle Card” which the owner of the store had us each pick one. My card is of the goddess, “Aeracura” with the message of blossoming:

    “You are just getting started,
    so have patience with yourself and the process,
    and do not give up.”

    I’ve been talking with my husband about how I often have great ideas about how to address my stressful life and my deeply, gravely wounded heart, and how I have never followed through for myself with these ideas.

    I have been realizing that I must start to practice extreme self-care and that I must follow through with my ideas for healing. The Skillfully Aware meditation practice is part of my intent to take care of myself.

    I am so glad that you include as an integral part of meditation practice the creation of a sacred place with an altar. Admittedly, I initially saw this as a barrier to my getting started, in my usual rush to get things going. However, more and more, I am understanding how reintroducing the sense of the sacred is so vital to living a life with meaning.

    I have so much more to say about all of this, especially with regard to my work as a physician. However, there is plenty of time to share more.

    Thank you for coming into my life to provide a way to “unfuss” my self. This journey has just started, and I will have patience with my self and the process. I will not give up.

    I am thankful for the good and loving energy of the Universe.

    With much gratitude and warmth,
    JW

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