Don’t do things, practice them

Don’t do things, practice them

I asked a fifty-three year-old physician what she does. She responded, “I practice internal medicine.” It’s been over two decades since she finished her residency. She is now a well-respected leader in her field, yet she still refers to what she does as a practice. I asked a successful attorney what he does. He said, “I practice law.” He passed the Bar Exam over thirty years ago and is currently a partner in a prestigious firm. He knows his niche of the profession exceptionally well. He doesn’t “do” law, he practices it.

Built into these time-honored vocations is a set of traditional values. It goes without saying that entering into law or medicine requires focus, discipline, intelligence and an almost insatiable desire to continually learn and grow. These virtues, and many more, are implied in the word “practice.”

Most importantly, practice means being present in the midst of process.

We might say that a builder practices carpentry. A professor practices teaching. A chef practices cooking. A writer practices writing. An advertising executive practices marketing.

We could stretch a little further and say doing dishes is a practice. Doing laundry is a practice. Raising kids is a practice. Cultivating healthy relationships is a practice. Self-care is a practice. Self-honesty is a practice. Meditation is a practice.

The central idea of awakened living is that our entire life becomes a practice.