Step onto the mat. Again. And again. And again.
Pay attention to the breath. Again. And again. And again.
Deliberately listen. Again. And again. And again.
Come back. Again. And again. And again.
This is practice.
When we make consistent practice of something the goal, as opposed to achieving something, our state shifts. Anxiety probably lessens, attention increases and we get to enjoy what we are doing more. Our attention can waiver, but then we notice it waivering, and we can simply shift our attention back to whatever we are practicing again. And again. And again.
Let’s say I am making some tomato soup. If I am too focused on the soup being done (some future state), I miss the fun of cutting the tomatoes. Or if I am walking home and too focused on getting home (another future state), I miss witnessing the beauty that surrounds me or feeling my feet touch the ground and how amazing it is to be able to walk at all. Or to exist at all. So I make a practice of enjoying how I transform the tomatoes or seeing the beauty around me or how good it can feel to walk or what it is like to be embodied.
But then, attention shifts and I am back to focusing on having the soup finished or arriving at my destination. Once I notice that my attention shifts, I get to come back. Again. And again. And again. What happens then is that I get good at both enjoying cutting tomatoes/walking/whatever it is that I am doing, but more importantly, learning how to shift my attention back when it wanders away. And it will wander again so…
In the words of Patanjali, “abhyasa vairagya abhyam tan nirodhah”.
Do it. Again. And again. And again.