If you do a daily mind-clearing activity, you have a practice. It could be a yoga practice, or meditation. A singing practice, a dance practice, a walking, drawing, or jump-rope practice. A daily practice.
At my house, as the promise of spring shifts to the promise of summer, I make the shift into Lawn Chair Practice.
The basic requirement of Lawn Chair Practice is is to climb into a lawn chair before sunrise and recline there, probably under a blanket and wearing a hat. The lawn chair must be angled so that it supports your head-to-toe body comfortably. Your feet should point in the direction of the sunrise
Once I’m settled into the lawn chair, I close my eyes and do that relaxation sequence where you march your awareness from your toenails to your hairline and whatever you’ve got, you breathe it away. This helps me start to feel at one with the lawn chair.
Next, I see how far to the left and right I can move my head without the least little bit of tightening in other parts of my body. Not my ribcage, not my ankles, not my throat. Sometimes it feels like I would have to turn liquid to do this. Sometimes I can move my head a whole inch. If I do get that motion going okay, I pay more attention to my eyes and start rolling them to the same side that my head moves.
If I can do that for awhile, I try to move my head and eyes in opposite directions, rolling the eyes to the left when the head moves right, rolling them to the right when the head moves left. Without tightening anything else. This can turn out to a pretty challenging thing to be doing under a blanket in a lawn chair on a spring morning before dawn. While wearing a hat.
Sometimes I don’t exactly fail at this—I just forget to try. My awareness, called by the rising bird chirp and bug buzz, drifts away from its mission to relax all the body parts and weaves away into the trees. Instead of checking in with my kneecaps, I’ll be riding a magic carpet through the morning symphony in the branches.
Until the same thing that always happens, happens.
The sun escapes the trees. Purple and gold waves roil on the screen of my eyelids. Radiation gently sears my face, and then not-so-gently sears my face. I kick away the blanket, toss the hat, try to go back to wherever I was. A layer of sweat prickles under my clothes. My awareness jolts to a new mission of getting my body into the shade and finding it a drink of water. Lawn Chair Practice is over.
Practice makes perfect, you know. Whatever the practice. That’s not a promise that if you practice every day you will eventually do something perfect. Practice makes perfect. After practice, that piece of perfect will follow you into your day, which won’t be the same day you would have had without it