What Are You Practicing?

Degas painted these ballerinas practicing. What are you practicing?

I recall attending a Bible study on the book of James. The leader of the Bible study said “The tongue and the mind are great battlefields for the Christian.” Because of this, the Bible instructs Christians to engage in certain intentional activities of the tongue and the mind. The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:18-19, New International Version). Paul instructed the Philippians to think on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8, New International Version)

What are you practicing?

A Course in Miracles frequently used the word “practice” to describe the activities associated with its lessons. The word “practice” appears over a thousand times in A Course in Miracles.

Steps to Knowledge builds on these ideas and takes them a little further in Step 80, “I can only practice.” Life is practice. Everyone is a practitioner of something or other. Life is the strengthening of something. Everyone is making something bigger and more significant in their life. They do this by paying attention to it, talking about it, and practicing it.

It does not follow that everyone’s practice is beneficial. Steps to Knowledge declares that the practice of most people is to their detriment:

“You practice confusion, you practice judgment, you practice projection of blame, you practice guilt, you practice disassociation and you practice inconsistency. You strengthen your judgments by continuing to exert them. You strengthen your uncertainties by continuing to emphasize them. You practice your self-hatred by continuing to influence it.”

It seemed like a harsh assessment at the time. But it doesn’t take a great deal of wisdom to observe that people get a lot of what they practice. The study of Steps to Knowledge involves, among other things, slowly backing away from these detrimental practices, and slowly approaching more beneficial practices.

What are you practicing? What are you a practitioner of? What are you strengthening? What are you building? What are you making bigger and more significant in your life?

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