2. The Great Practice

Journal Questions

Journal Reflections represent an interior dialogue with your deepest essential reality. While your responses are for you alone, the relational practice of objectifying a response in written form can be helpful in achieving clarity and determining what may or may not have value to share with others.

  1. What objective realities stuck in my memory from the encounter with The Great Practice: images, pictures, objects, sounds, lines of text, etc.? (Quickly re-create a surface-level recall of the experience).

  2. The 3 elements from The Great Practice that most captured my attention were?.

  3. What are some other words that might mean ?practice??

  4. What practices did you observe in The Great Practice?

  5. What is something you have practiced? How often? What happened to you as you practiced?

  6. Who were the people who demonstrated ?practice? in this module? What comments did they make that resonated with you?

  7. What is ?inside practice??

  8. Which of your practices make you feel happy or content?

  9. In which of your practices do you struggle?

  10. What happens if you don?t practice?

  11. Why is what you practice important to consider?

  12. How does what one practices inform us of who a person is? What does it reveal?

  13. How do I practice an intentional interior life?

  14. How do I practice a relationship to what is really real?

  15. As a result of the encounter with The Great Practice life practices, postures, or next steps I am inclined to consider include:

  16. Other questions raised for me by the encounter with The Great Practice that I wish to explore more deeply include:

*Please star your response to one or more of the questions above to write it in the “Comments” section at the end of the module. This contribution is your personal “seed” in nurturing a depth conversation with others.

Group Questions

  1. What images or pictures caught your attention in this module? What sounds did you hear? What lines of text do you remember? What else connected with your awareness; what else do you remember? (Recreate a group verbal montage of the cinematic module without reflection on specific elements but simply bringing the material back to mind).

  2. What practices did you observe in this module?

  3. Which of the practitioners were you drawn to in The Great Practice? What was it in their presentation that resonated with you?

  4. What practices do you carry out in your own life?

  5. Why is ?practice? important to consider? What message did you take away from The Great Practice?

  6. What does someone?s ?practice? reveal about who they are and who they are choosing to be?

  7. What sustains you when the practice gets tough? What keeps you from giving up?

  8. How does your practice help you live your life?

  9. How do you prepare yourself internally to do your practice?

  10. What is The Great Practice communicating about the nature of ?inside practice??

  11. How do you practice a relationship to what is really real?

  12. How might your life be different moving forward as a result of engaging this art form? What new relational practices or postures are you inclined to consider?

  13. What questions are raised for you by this encounter with The Great Practice that you wish for the group to discuss?

9 thoughts on “2. The Great Practice”

  1. David Lawler says:

    I admit being in some conflict about the triathlete being used as an example for the inner journey because, in my belief system, we are not being called to struggle with constant effort as long as we are following our hearts. However the more I thought about it, a belief system is merely that. Like the tennis player who visualizes having a perfect shot so the same shot can be achieved under pressure in a game I am understanding that a belief system is worthless unless lived. And that can take you some of the dark places that the triathlete feels when she is competing on the edge! The miracle occurs when the dark place is transformed to the ?words coming from another source? to the author.

  2. Most of my daily life I am focused on the circumstances of life. I am focused on the people, events, things, the external scenes flying by. These are beautiful and precious things to me! But they are not the whole story. The whole story encompasses and feeds all of these things. When I center myself on the ?track? or on the wholeness, when I practice my relationship to Ultimate Reality, the fullness and richness of Ultimate Reality then comes through to nurture all of these things.

    For example, I can love, serve, and care for my children every day until I pass out each night. I can focus on this scene of my life and practice it with all of my might. But if I forget to honor and practice my relationship to Ultimate Reality in the midst of this, my care for them is less fulfilling for all. If I choose to practice an intentional interior connection to that which is greater than every ?thing?, the fullness of life saturates me and every ?thing? on which I choose to focus.

    I used to think I had to choose one or the other. Choose a life devoted to “things” or choose a life devoted to Ultimate Reality. But they are not mutually exclusive! And when I choose Ultimate Reality as my primary relationship, the choice I am really making is authentic love and nurture for everything else!

  3. Michael D. May says:

    David,

    Thank you for these excellent reflections. This is a VERY JUICY topic.

    Likewise it is the perfect reflection/struggle/question/comment with which to enter the next phase of the sequential modules of ?The Ultimate Reality? as we begin an encounter with ?The Big Squeeze.? Your insight that ?a belief system is worthless unless lived? is certainly the message I was getting from ?The Great Practice.? In fact, Reality provides the Great Furnace by which our beliefs are refined as we attempt to put them into practice.

    Unlike other programs or materials where ?being in conflict? is discouraged, on this path, conflict is where the juices start to flow and we know that we are beginning to tap into something Real. Yippee!!

    I look forward to exploring your reflection that ?we are not being called to struggle with constant effort as long as we are following our hearts? as we get into ?The Big Squeeze? and additional material.

    I personally wonder if Martin Luther King had such an effortless/struggleless experience of following his heart?..or Mahatma Ghandi, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Joan of Arc and a few other folks I sense were all very connected to a deep guidance in their hearts but never were released from a daily personal struggle and effort. My observation of the history of the human family suggests it often does not go so well for the folks that fall through their human hearts into a bottomless crevasse that delivers them into the Deep Place, as they take the revelations from that Deep Place back to their neighbors.

    Thanks for inspiring this conversation.

  4. Patricia Brandao says:

    Dear Michael
    Michael May
    Mon 2/15/2016 4:24 PM
    Patricia,

    This is a good question. It is also a good question to put on the ?Comments? section under The Great Practice.

    I have been very present and feeling joy surrounding me. That said, I am stuck with the same questions: will this go away? Bellow is an e-mail I sent to Michael and wanted to share with you.

    Yes, I am certain that my enjoyment comes from living through it all, not tomorrow, not yesterday, what it is now. I am exercising the journey. Most days I am able to get it. Question: how do I avoid getting trapped back on old behaviors? How can I learn not to read what other people are thinking about me, not to care? How do I get into a long path of loving myself, including my body as how it is NOW?

  5. Michael D. May says:

    Patricia, The old practices and patterns and demons and bad habits (inside and out) never finally go away (until we stop sucking in air). ?They are always ready to haunt us and jump back into the forefront of our consciousness during a weak moment. However, the more we strengthen and fortify and repeat and reinforce our new habits and chosen patterns and preferred practices, the more these will evolve to dominate our lives as the previous life practices fall into the shadows and become weak from lack of reinforcement. We are fundamentally gifted with the freedom to choose the Default Practices and Postures that become our lives. It is true that ?I am practicing what I am becoming and I am becoming what I am practicing!?

  6. David Lawler says:

    Michael, I?m ever the idealist and wonder if those like Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle still have to be on guard against weak moments? By the way, I think you are doing something very important here. You have my eternal appreciation for initiating this forum and this marvelous video series.

    1. Michael D. May says:

      David,

      Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle (both contributors to this program) only need to be on guard against weak moments if they are still breathing!!

      The higher we climb up the mountain, the further there is to roll down!

  7. psage9@aol.com says:

    SQUEEZING OUT THE PRACTICE
    My attendance at the Ultimate Reality event continues and I make my own meaning of it. In the last episode I wrote about our being in free fall. I associated that terminology with an awareness of our institutions in decline, our inability to agree to respectfully debate our differences in a civil tone. Families and nations are being broken apart and its peoples scattered to the wind. The eco-system of the planet is being torn apart as we enter the sixth great extinction event with no end in sight of climate changes, the likes of which mankind probably has not seen before.
    In times like these where do you look for comfort, how do you stay grounded not buffeted about by this rumor or that, the next horrifying event, your own or manipulated emotional reactions? Repetition and practice can be grounding in times of free fall. The similarity, the continuity of some practiced pursuit is comforting and turns us inward rather than out into the winds of chaos. The metaphor used in the film was of a railroad track ? always the same width ? never widening or narrowing even though the scenery is always changing. Even when the motions of the practice is repetitive, our thoughts are different, circumstances vary. When you think about it we are always practicing something in our lives, in our doings and conversations. With our thoughts we are laying down grooves in the brain that become ruts and eventually deeply held beliefs about the world, and who we or others are. What we are allowing the mind to focus on, is what we are feeding and what will continue to grow. Change the story, change the future. We need to stop and observe what we are telling ourselves, what weeds we may be allowing to grow.
    Human beings seem to vacillate between attraction and repulsion. We want more of what makes us feel good and reject that which is painful. There are a myriad of ways we do this ? denial, aggression, addiction, not showing up, silent withdrawal. The Universe is not designed for our needs the next film reminds us. And we are constantly being shuttled between awesome and awful in our feelings. How then do we find peace, acceptance or inner balance in the midst of all this disillusionment. Nothing here on earth will last ? not our relationships, our money, status, health ? all is in constant motion and change ? none of it can be relied on. A Joseph Campbell quote reminds us we are not looking for meaning in life, we are looking for experience of life. If we are constantly looking outside ourselves for answers ? we are increasingly getting our answers from the marketplace. You soon discover that you cannot believe the media, the stories on TV, the authority figures, the gossip you hear from friends ? all is clouded by agendas. Our ideals and reality don?t match and we are tempted to wonder if we fit in or are sane until one day you realize most are seduced by the baubles of life and are lost in a fake version of reality.
    At some point all the denials and wanting to believe otherwise do not work and you must admit that it may be as you see it. What if we are living in these dangerous times and there is nothing that can be done about it? Nothing except acceptance. You can let go of the outside world and love all the things that inspire a state of awe. We can choose to live fully in the moment with authenticity.
    We are hopelessly limited by our bodies, our circumstances, our perspectives, our cultural mythos, the endless choices offering escaping from the facts of our lives here and now. Yet, there are moments when we catch a glimpse of a timeless reality. We may catch these glimpses through art or music or nature. Of late the Sandhill Cranes have been returning ? hearing their calls, seeing their formations I am transported by the thought that they have been doing this same practice for eons ? the world is always changing ? they are always returning. While our species seems hopelessly lost in virtual reality ? the real reality is taking place within and without us every moment. All of life is as a river moving endlessly toward no destination in particular but moving none the less and carrying all of us ? animals, plant life and what we call inert life with it on its journey nowhere and everywhere. And here we are ? we can stand in awe of it or we can turn away into our fantasies.

    Pam Raider
    03/03/16

  8. Amanda Storywarrior says:

    Pam, Thank you for this excellent reflection on these two engaging modules which certainly are linked inextricably together. May we each practice seeking our most-personal interior practice in these awe-filled times!

You must sign up or log in to comment.