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About Practice

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When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won't be there no more...
-- Steely Dan

One criticism of my work, including my books, is that I don't offer ways to practice the lessons I teach. One reviewer of Stillpower even said: "I continued reading the book in hopes of learning how to attain peace of mind, but the author offered no tips, no tricks, no practice strategies, nothing."

Since he's not alone, I want to address this common complaint. But first consider this question: Do small children practice how to quickly get over things? Of course, they don't. And I suppose that's the point. My work is about wiping away years of misinformation (and programming) that insist you must practice or work hard at something that's inherently automatic. In other words, deep down, everyone knows that they're wired to psychologically self-correct. This truth needs to be uncovered and allowed -- not rehearsed.

Now falsehoods, on the other hand, must be repeated and ingrained for them to become second nature. Take the notion that you should practice mindfulness, positivity, or awareness in order to easily find tranquility. Be honest, how many of you have tried these types of rote strategies with limited success? That's because practice takes thought and a head crowded with thought is what makes us not mindful, positive, or aware in the first place.

Remember, I teach people that their feelings come from the ebbs and flows of thought -- not from the ebbs and flows of life. And knowing this is what activates a person's psychological immune system. Sure, it's fair to criticize how I go about teaching this fundamental truth. I've learned a lot from the comments of readers, colleagues, and friends. But if you're suffering and, as a result of the misinformation I mentioned above, you're craving practice methods or coping strategies, my simple suggestion is to not look in that direction. In order to feel better, you don't need to implement a method or strategy; you don't need to practice something that's designed to be instinctive. Rather, stop searching for remedies, explanations, or excuses and just go about your business.

Then let me know how those demons look in the morning.