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A Letter from Cheri
I offer Practice Everywhere as part of my own awareness practice. Truth is, I adore practicing awareness, being present, living in the moment. Using each moment of my life as an opportunity to wake up and end suffering has taken my life from one of suffering to one of joyful gratitude.
We have an expression in our practice: Gratitude wants to give. In my experience that’s true. Awareness practice has given me an ability to appreciate and enjoy life that I did not believe was possible. And, I know that having this practice made available to me is a debt that can only be repaid with the same coin. Innumerable individuals before me devoted their lives to offering practice to any and all ready and willing to avail themselves of it, which is how it was there for me when I was ready to receive it. It is my privilege to carry on in that tradition.
The conditioning we’ve all received, that voice in the head with its endless monologue from its imaginary location outside life, would have us believe that life is too hard, that there’s always something wrong, that loss, lack, and deprivation, if not present currently, are right around the corner, that we must worry and be fearful, that we’re inadequate and failing. But none of that is true. Life is endlessly generous, giving, abundant, and beautiful. Practicing awareness will prove to us that life is never the problem—that voice in the head falsely interpreting life is always the problem.
"We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think."
-- The Buddha
Other ways of saying the above: What you practice is what you have. The quality of your life is determined by the focus of your attention. What we focus on is what we get. Our experience in life is determined by what we give ourselves to.
If, while learning to play the piano, my attention is on an unconscious mantra of “I will never be good at this,” that’s what I’ll get out of playing the piano—the belief that I will never be good at it. Now, does that mean I won’t be good at it? I’ll probably never know, because it’s likely that regardless of what anyone else says about my playing, what I will experience is “not good at this.”
Why is this? Because one process does not lead to another. Repeating “I’ll never be good at this” while learning a new skill does not lead to “Yes, I’m good at this.” Worrying about the future won’t help you have a better future. Worrying about the future will help you have a future of worrying about the future! The only thing you will ever get from life is what you are doing in the moment. What you do is what you get.
Our lives are the result of what we give our attention to. If you practice "overwhelmed with work" or "I should be different" or “I’ll never be good at this,” that's the life experience you will have. If we want our lives to be different, we must practice the difference we want.
The greatest challenge of awareness practice is developing the ability to direct attention and pay attention. These simple practice reminders offered through “Practice Everywhere” will lead to a clearer perception of how the reality in which you live is dictated by where your attention is focused. We are not changing habits. We are moving from unconsciousness to consciousness. Each time you stop long enough to come back to consciousness, feel yourself inhabiting your body, aware of where you are in time and space, feel the breath of life filling your lungs, you are practicing shifting your attention to the life you want—fully alive, here and now.