Practice What Is Right

Tanya's Altar
“Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right.” Barbara Brown Taylor.

One sunny day this week, I walked over to my dear friend Tanya Geisler’s for a morning of co-working. We do this regularly, sitting at opposite sides of her dining room table, encouraging one another as we take on the work of our dreams.

We prefaced our work, as we often do, with coffee, connection and conversation, filling each other in on our lives and our work, what we’re celebrating and what we’re wrestling with. This week, I shared with Tanya a shocking dream I’d had about being fired and deserving it. I knew this dream was about me not living up to some of my commitments to myself. There were things I knew I should* be doing and, for a long time, I’d been making other choices. The dream was my subconscious (and/or the powers that be) telling me that it was well past time to make a change. As an example, I told Tanya that one of the things that I knew I was meant to be doing was meditating. I just knew it in my bones.

Tanya said, “Then there is nothing for you to do but to meditate. You can go use my altar right now.”

Right now?

I squirmed.

I said thank you.

I deflected.

As our conversation moved on, I felt myself coming around. Somewhere inside me I found a willingness to say yes: yes to Tanya’s graciousness, yes to the call to meditate, yes to the better part of myself.

Here’s what happened when I said yes.

Tanya walked me up to her beautiful altar, an altar sparkling in gemstones and blessed by statues of Buddha, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati, an altar infused with love and devotion. She offered up her sacred space to me, giving me extra candles, tarot cards to pull from, a cushion to sit on and then she let me be.

I took my seat.

I immediately felt this sense of rightness with myself. I lit a candle and started my practice.

Within moments the majestic Matteo entered the room, the most elusive of Tanya’s three cats. He brushed himself up against my forearm. He rubbed against my lower back, his luscious tail passing along my skin where it was exposed between my sweater and my pants. He purred.

I reached out and pet him, giving thanks for his presence and this beautiful sign from the Universe that yes, this sitting is right.

After a brief moment, I was called back to the practice, as though someone had dropped this lesson in my heart:

“Enjoy the blessings of the practice but don’t let them draw you away from the practice. Come back.”

As I brought my attention back to my breath, another of Tanya’s cats entered the room, the blue-eyed beauty Ramona, talkative as ever. It was as though the Universe was saying, “Did you hear that lesson? What will you do?”

And so I basked in the energy of “cat” and I stayed with my practice. With downcast eyes, I paid attention to my breath and as I did I could see a glistening thread of gold between my heart and the candle. Perhaps it was the interplay of light and my allergies but even if that is so, as I watched the golden energy move between my heart and the candle’s flame, I knew it was another sign that I was in the right place, doing the right thing and that in that moment, all was well.

Note: A New Wisdom Core conversation exclusively for students of The Academy is coming soon. Tanya and I will talk about the challenges and rewards of stepping into your starring role.

* Should isn’t always a dirty word.

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