Why we do inner work… the point of spiritual practice
So what is the value of all this inner work, this self-study, this stillness, this contemplation, this inquiry? Why take the time, why spend the energy? Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a lot of work. And it can seem very serious and grim sometimes.
But we must not lose sight of why we are doing all this. Why we wake up earlier to sit on the meditation cushion, why we drag our asses to yoga class, why we seek wisdom in ancient traditions, why we don’t just drown the pain in drugs and alcohol, why we make the effort to change mental habits.
We all do it for the same reasons, I believe. It all boils down to the same thing. We all do it, whatever our way is, to be free and happy. We do it to ENJOY LIFE!
So let’s not take it so seriously all the time. Let’s be light and enjoy the process, because the work is never done. And it’s not about getting to the end, when you’re done the work and you’re perfect and you don’t think negatively anymore or you don’t get annoyed or angry. It’s all the practice. The preparation for the practice, lifting your body off the bed in the morning, the self-talk as you debate skipping the meditation that day, the setting down of the yoga mat, … it’s all part of it.
One time I caught myself about to tear myself from a really nice moment — a moment I was thoroughly enjoying, because it was time to meditate. Suddenly I remembered why I meditate at all. Meditation (for me at the time) was the formal sitting practice of mindfulness. To practise being aware of the present moment, in order to be able to enjoy each moment without being caught up in thoughts about the past or worrying about the future. The rest of life is the real, informal practice. That’s where we find out how much we have learned and integrated. That’s where we enjoy the fruits of our hard work.
Now, of course, there’s something to be said about discipline and practising even when you feel good, to keep your skills sharp. But let’s not stop living, let’s not spend our lives preparing for life.
Let’s remember the point of it all. To be free from mental habits that bring suffering, to be peaceful and happy, to enjoy life. Essentially, to have FUN!
We are on the human ride! Here we are, by no apparent will of our own, in this body, this mind, on this planet, in this thing we call life. We have these senses. We get to watch sunsets, taste chocolate ice cream. We get to touch body butter and we get to kiss. We get to listen to music that takes our breath away.
Let’s just enjoy this precious human life, this miracle. This experience. It’s all it is. A ride.