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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is your level of commitment?

It's a post I've been wanting to write for some time. Ironically, I've been refraining from blog posts due to a written assignment for Advance Shiatsu training.

How do we measure our level of commitment to anything, not just a sport, anything?  Haven't we all reached a point when a hobby became a passion, which one day became a practice? For those who have and those who are considering taking the plunge, this post is for you.

One spiritual guide suggested, if you want to know what you're committed to just look at your purchases. Unless you are committed to reading every book in the public library, past times require funding. We all know the more advanced our skills become the more expensive the equipment becomes. Once we outgrow the cheap, entry level gear and spend big on high quality apparatus we want someone to teach us how to use it efficiently. After all, you wouldn't hitch a plow to a racehorse, why use a high-performance road bike kicking around town?

Putting time in is another investment. It's a turning point between enthusiast and amateur. When mid-week time is given to developing "weekend hobby" skills, it has turned in to a passion. We put time into our teachers and friends who share the passion. Then one day a brown belt test is suggested, or a writing contest, the team enters a tournament. A goal emerges complete with deadline, which perpetuates the formidable climb from amateur to professional. We invest effort into studying the iconic elite and what helped them achieve high level.When solo practice spontaneously springs into the schedule, we are engaged in a practice.

At some point not too near the beginning of committed practice there is shift in the enjoyment of our practice. In sports there is a physical breakthrough requiring plain discipline and grit. In art there is a catharsis of self-awareness, in science there is the dawning massiveness of what is known vs. what is not know, in spiritual evolution the crisis of recognizing our own neurosis and failures. In all these arenas the certainty of long-term effort becomes a real experience, and somehow it seems that we've come too far to turn back from the original goal.

If you've ever made it this far with what used to be a past time, you understand that the next step is like a cool drink on a hot day. There is time for this. That's the step, the awareness that the original goal is just one part of the learning. In passing through the above-mentioned uncomfortable turning point, if we make it, there is a clear recognition that the practice will continue into the future even beyond the first goal. At this point two things happen: one, all our friend have accepted that we prioritize our time building skills before being social with them; and two, we look for ways to get the practice to pay for itself because it has become part of our life. And we love it that way. Once these two things have occurred in close proximity, we are on the way to part-time professional.

The reasons I am blogging about this are as follows: First, I wish to illuminate the path in what way I can. This is a well-worn track, I am only one of multitudes who have found that my passion will lead to my profession if I follow it. Second, for all who have glimpsed the massiveness of passion, I wish to give encouragement.When our hearts are excited and engaged, we are more alive than ever! Let yourself fall in love with something other than a human being. Third and last (for now), I invite everyone to study deeply into your interests. One spiritual tradition lists three qualities seen in people who give themselves to a life-long practice: patience, kindness and the ability to acknowledge their own deficiencies. This is a profound blessings of our existence which will lead to greater depth in life.