Manage episode 353275630 series 2634748
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Mark: Welcome back to the Wonders Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark.
Yucca: And I'm Yucca.
Mark: and today we're going to talk about practices and developing a practice carrying one on keeping one fresh and alive. All those things about having a personal.
Yucca: right. And we hope that there'll be a lot of useful ideas and information for people who are just starting, but also for people who have had a practice and are looking for ways to. Continue to develop that or kind of stay in the habit of it.
Mark: Right, because a practice is a wonderful thing to have, and it can also, if you're doing the same thing for months or years on end, you can also start. To feel a little routine, a little stale. And there are things you can do to sort of blow yourself out of that normality, get out of the rut, and try some new things that can incorporate into your practice in really enlivening waves.
So that's part of what we're gonna talk about at the end of the program. But at first, let's start talking about developing a pro a a practice. When you're first starting.
Mark: When you come to Athe paganism or naturalistic paganism in some kind of sense, and you're like, okay, this cosmology totally works for me, right?
I'm a science-based person, I'm a reason based person. You know, this evidence-based approach to spirituality, you know, really rings my bell. So now what do I do about that? Well, okay, I'm gonna celebrate these stations of holidays around the course of the year. That's great, right? That will help you to plug into the cycles of nature.
And that's really what we're about, is about having a deep relationship with nature. Understanding ourselves as organisms that are a part of nature. That's a great thing, but what about day-to-day? , you know, the, the Sabbaths are seven, eight weeks apart, right? It's, it's, and at least for me, it's not enough to say, okay, every seven or eight weeks, I'm gonna, I'm, I'm gonna pay attention to Nature
I, I need more than that. So, Many people have a daily practice, or in some cases a monthly practice that's organized around the cycles of the moon.
Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Right. So I think that a, a really good place to start, and this is whether you're coming in fresh or have had a practice for a while, is to really do some. Some reflecting upon what, why? Why do you want this practice? What, what is meaningful to you? What are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish?
Because it really is about what you are trying to get out of it, right? We don't have any Gods looking down on us who want us to perform this special thing at this special time. It's no what? What is it for you? Why are you doing it for you? And that could be a lot of different things and it's gonna be different for it's different for Mark and for me and for you.
And it's gonna be different at different points in our own lives.
Mark: for sure, because maybe your primary focus is your family unit, right? Maybe what you're trying to do is to create culture and and values for your family, and so demonstrating those and creating experiences that reinforce them. is sort of the centerpiece, the, the core ethic of what you're seeking to accomplish.
That's great. Right. But that's gonna be a practice that's about finding the right childhood stories, right, and creating the kinds of household observances that give you and your children and partners
Yucca: household members, whoever they are. Yeah.
Mark: Yeah, the, the kind of experience that reinforces the values and, and cosmology that you find really meaningful.
So all of that is great. But in, on the other hand, you may be a solitary person. You may either be a solo person or someone who is partnered with someone that isn't interested in your path, and so you're doing this yourself and you're trying to find, how do I do this in a way that continually fuels that sense of meaning
Mark: that I'm getting out of this. Practice of being an atheopagan or a naturalistic pagan and some of that may be okay. I'm engaging with people in the online communities. I am reading stuff that's being distributed by. The atheopagan Society or you know, various science writers or all that kind of stuff. But it can also be how am I gonna challenge myself to jump over some things that feel like hurdles for me?
Mark: How am I gonna make myself bigger? How am I gonna stretch?
Mark: Because one of the things that we're really about as atheopagan or naturalistic pagans is the, the affirmation of the self, right?
Mark: We're, we're not about telling you that you've got original sin and you're small and need to be fixed. , our ethic is entirely different.
It's about you are glorious and golden and we want you to bring the you that is you out into the world with as much visibility and vigor as you possibly can. And that's a radically different way of approaching things than the over culture wants you to approach them with. But at the same time, , it's much healthier.
Yucca: right. and your practice is also a way that you can build in health into your life, right? That self care, that and, and thinking about how it feels to be you every day so it's really an opportunity for you to, to look at how you want to feel each day or each week or through the seasons, and to work towards that. It's a tool for you to be able to feel the way and experience, have the type of experiences you want in your life.
Mark: yes. Yes. We have to remember that unlike many other religious paths, the point of our practice is happiness and self-actualization and to help make the world a better place. It's not about serving the edicts of some other power or some list of rules or any of. . So it's important in building your personal individual daily or weekly or monthly or whatever it is, practice that you keep that in mind.
How is this helping me to be happy?
Mark: How is this bringing more meaning into my life when I light those candles on my focus every night? Why do I do that? I don't do it just because it's a habit. I do it because it's meaningful to me, and the things that I say at that moment are moving to me, even though I see them every night.
Mark: And if that starts to get really dry or routines such that I lose the magic of it, magic in quotes, right? Then it's time for me to make some changes. It's time for me to figure out how can I make this practice feel like I'm pushing the edge.
Yucca: right? Yeah. So why don't we talk about a few things that, that people might consider after sitting down. And really thinking about what it is that they want to achieve with their practice. And last week we were talking quite a bit about the Wheel of the Year, and that's a great place to start, right?
With a, with a seasonal a seasonal regional approach. But what about a weekly or daily kind of practice?
Mark: Yeah, the thing about the wheel of the year is that it happens pretty slowly and so, and it can take you a year of observing what's happening in nature around you at every given station of the Wheel of the year in order to get a good grip on, here's what I'm gonna celebrate as we go around, right? A year or more, maybe more cycles than that.
But what you can do immediately is you can start doing a weekly practice or a daily practice, or if you like, you can follow the moon cycles and do like a monthly practice
Yucca: or all of those,
Mark: or, or all of those. I mean, if you're really gung-ho and you wanna do lots of ritual practices, then you know, by all means, it's, it's available to you and you're free to do it, and there's nothing wrong with it.
It's good for you.
Mark: So when it comes to a daily practice, what I think about is what's gonna help me feel better connected.
Mark: You know, what I really want is to feel like I'm connected to nature and to this vast cosmos that gave rise to us. I want to, I want to acknowledge that on a daily basis. And so that's what I.
that's what I do. And I also want to acknowledge what has gone before because I feel like, you know, if what had gone before hadn't gone before, I wouldn't be here.
Mark: So there's
Yucca: tiniest little difference and he wouldn't be here and it's so many places. Yeah.
Mark: absolutely. So there, there are so many reasons why. I mean, many of us, if not all of us, practicing this path have a lot of data in our heads about evolution and fossils and the progression of animal development over time. You know it, and maybe further back, further back into, you know, the earliest microorganisms all.
Understanding of evolution and the development of the planet and the development of the sun and all those things. How do I make that personal to me in this moment? Because yes, it's history, but it's still going on right now,
Mark: The, the, the burning of the sun is happening right now. The evolution of the earth is happening right now, and I am a piece.
Mark: So thinking about how you can develop a practice that acknowledges that somehow is something that's really valuable. And I can't understate the significance of lighting candles.
Mark: You know, it seems, it seems very ordinary because you know, every church you go to, they like candles. Well, why do they do?
Yucca: there's a reason for it. Yeah.
There is a reason for it, and the reasons to my mind are threefold. The first is there is a magic to creating fire out of nothing.
Mark: You got this match, you got this candle. They're both these cold inanimate objects, but then suddenly there's. And that creates light and heat. It's, it's a, it's an inherently mysterious and incredible experience for us.
Mark: So that's the first piece. The second piece is that we, Resonate psychologically to low light conditions, especially flickering low light conditions. This is why every bar you go into has low light conditions. Every dance club you go into has low light conditions because they understand that people will feel more free and liberated if they don't feel like they're being stared at,
Mark: and bright light makes them feel like they're being stared. So those are two of the big pieces. And then the third is that there's something about the ignition of fire on a focus or altar of symbolic objects that feels like bringing it to life.
Mark: And that sounds very woo and okay. but it feels like bringing it to life, it feels like, okay, these were, these were sedentary inanimate objects sitting on a shelf, but now there is a living process happening in the middle of them, right?
Mark: That is shedding light and heat, and is also making all of those objects somehow engaged in an active process. And I think that all three of those things together really contribute to a personal practice. To a daily practice. And there's something very significant about taking that moment, you know, listening to your deeper longing. and saying, okay, you know, we're doing our evening thing. There's kids, there's there's movies to watch, there's dinner, there's all that kind of stuff.
But I need 15 minutes to myself. I'm gonna light these candles and I'm gonna sit in near darkness, I'm gonna contemplate the fact that I'm alive. I'm alive and I'm here and it's rare and it's special and it's unique. There will never be another person and never be another organism like me. I'm this unique manifestation of the universe living a life, a temporary, small life, and I'm gonna seize this 15 minutes to really get. that's what I do with my daily practice. That that's, that's the difference that it makes in my life.
Yucca: Hmm. That's so beautiful and thank you for sharing that with us. Yeah, for us. I don't have 15 minutes
Mark: Yeah, I, I hear.
Yucca: And. . I mean, there, there are moments where there are 15 minutes in the day, of course, but but because I have young children that for me to get time to be alone means waking up at three in the morning. And that's what I do to work sometimes when I really need to concentrate.
I get up at three in the morning and that's, that's what does it. But. Have a little bit of a different approach for the daily practice. We have a, a morning and an evening, and it's something that brings the kids into it that they have as well. And I find that with, and then I have a lot of little things that I do throughout the day as well.
But these are the big, the core and really the morning practices, the main one. It's the first thing that we do and it really sets this, the tone for the rest of the day. So we. . And if it's the summer, we'll actually go outside. And then in the winter we don't go outside for this because it's too way, way too cold.
Cuz we live in a, a climate that gets very cold below freezing in the mornings. So, but we'll go to the window and we have a little wooden. Sign that we painted together with just some little kind of morning affirmations that we, that we came up with together that talk about some of the things like remembering that, you know, that we can control how, how our thoughts make us feel and kind of some things like that that are important to us.
But we start with saying good morning to the. And just taking a moment to breathe together, three deep breaths, breathing together, looking at the sun, saying good morning to it. And, and I'm very pleased the kids have noticed how each day or over time, not each day, but over time, where the sun is when we do it, has changed.
Right? They're noticing that, oh, the sun is over here now, but it used to be over there when it was rising.
Yucca: that there are some, we. Always talk about, you know, what are some things that we're grateful for and, you know, what are the kinds of challenges that might come that we might face today? And how, you know, how can we address overcoming that, right?
If, if the days that planning is that we're going to go to grandma's house, but then the tires flatten, we can't go to grandma's house, you know, we kind of practice ahead of time, like, oh, how are we gonna prepare for that? And that helps that when it does most of the time, the bad stuff doesn't happen.
but when it does, you go, oh, we talked about this. Right? And then talk about what it is that we're gonna focus on in ourselves, practice in ourselves. And, you know, it takes three, four minutes and it completely changes the day. And then
Mark: Well, and it can, and it completely changes your kids
Mark: doing. Raises them to be very different people than if you hadn't done that.
Yucca: Hmm. . Yeah. Well,
Yucca: yeah. Well, I think e everything that we do and that I, we have, there's too much pressure on parents already, but everything that we do, every choice that we're making is influencing their foundation for the world and how they understand the world. And this moment there, there's this, this thing that we do in our culture sometimes is that like childhood doesn't count some.
Oh, it's just preparing for real life, right? I remember being at being in school, and it was always about preparing to be in middle school, and then it was preparing to be in high school, and then preparing to be in college, and then preparing to be in the real, and it felt so strange and empty after getting out of school.
It was like, well,
Yucca: the real life, right? It's like, no, no, no. This is the moment. This is the only moment that we have. Maybe we're lucky enough that there will be, that we will get to be here in five years or 10 years, but we don't know if we.
Yucca: I hope so much. I, I really, really hope and am doing everything I can to try and make sure that my kids will be here in 20 years, but they might not, we might all die in a car crash tomorrow.
Right. So what we do today matters so much because it is the only moment that we actually have. Right. So our, our practice is really about trying to. To be really present and intentional
Yucca: because, you know, we, we, as you were saying, we are this special rare being that is just for a moment, just the tiniest moment.
So what, so what can I do to feel, to be aware of that? . Right. And then the end of the day practice that we do is, is very similar. We have another little piece of art that we made and and over time we'll probably change out what that piece of art is, but it has another little thing that we, that we read together, and then we talk about the things that we saw during the day, the things that we observed and felt.
Also have a little like release ritual where we can release the, okay, the day's done, what happened happened, right? I can't change what happened, I can let go of that, but I can think about how I'm gonna do it differently in the future, but now it's time to rest and to let be what is. And so those are really the very first thing we. when we get up, well, when they get up . And the very first thing they, we do, and when we go to. now as an adult I steal moments out of the day and most of my, my personal that isn't with the, the kids practice actually is in the bathroom because that's the only place that I can lock the door, right?
So I think that there's moments in our lives when we're trying to build in habits and practices that are, are placed, things that we're already. I'm sure there's some term for it, but a habit that you have, like every day you do certain things, at least every day. You go to the bathroom multiple times a day, but most people probably have a, a routine when they get outta bed.
Yeah. You do this and then you go and you, if you, if you're a coffee drinker, first thing you do is you. The water on for your coffee or something like that. And that's a moment. There's a lot of power in those because you can add something in there. That's where you can add in a moment of, oh, I'm gonna take a moment and ground right while my coffee is brewing.
I'm gonna ground every day. and you can slip that in and you can find places. It's gonna be different for everyone. I don't do a lot of commuting any now, any, any more now, but when I did, I had a thing when I got into my car and I put the keys in the ignition. That was a, that was my cue to, okay, what is the, I'd have a little ritual that I would do, so just remind me to be present and, and set intention and that sort of thing.
Yucca: So that's where we are right now. And of course, as life changes, those practices change, but you know, it's, people can find in their own lives what their, what do they wanna do, what's the intention that they have and, and how to do that.
Mark: Sure. And one of the things that's great about this path and. Living it in a family is that you can go to, you know, you, you can go to your kids at 10 and say, well, we're gonna keep doing the the morning thing that we do, but, You know, you can have your own practice now too. You can have your own daily practice, and I mean, I'm happy to help you with ideas about that, but it's yours and it can be whatever you want it to be, so that as people are being developed and launched into adulthood, they're doing that with not only.
A really strong sense of connectedness and a family support and of all those things, but also of of personal empowerment to make choices about what happens with them psychologically. One of the things that I find really a little shocking about the the Christian over culture is that because. Puts everything in the hands of its God. We aren't taught anything about the ritual tools that would help us to be happier, less paranoid, less hostile, more joyous,
Mark: more creative and, and ritual skills will do all those things for.
Mark: that's a lot of what the atheopagan path is about, is about unlocking your capacity as an individual to express those things in your unique way, which is unlike anybody else's.
Yucca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And that's, that's part of what we're trying to do with the practice. So we've just given some ideas for, just shared some of our own ideas for daily practices but that there's also the opportunity for other timeframes, right? A weekly practice or as we talked about, a, a monthly, so a lunar and then seasonal.
So are there, there any things that you practice on a weekly basis?
Mark: Well, I wanna step back for a second because I really want to appreciate the conscientiousness and the care that you bring to raising your kids in this tradition. I, I think. I mean, I just, I really wanna honor your, your, your carefulness about wanting your kids to have an experience that really unfolds them.
And I, I just, I just think that's really great. So I wanted to say, so Yoko.
Yucca: Well, thank you. Well, we're, we're really grateful to have an amazing community to be part of in all of that, right?
Mark: Yeah, me too. Me too. I'm psyched about it.
Mark: So, yes, there are alternatives if you. One of the things that's really important to get about all of this, and we probably should have said it a long time before, is none of this is obligatory,
Mark: right? There's no guilt trip about missing a day in your daily practice or missing two weeks in your daily practice.
There's no, the point is to help you be happier and more actualized, right? If, if life gets in the way, well, life got in the way. And when the time rolls around again, when you feel comfortable restarting you there, there are no apologies to be made. There's, there's no shame. Just go back to it, start it again. That's all fine. And the same thing is true if a daily practice isn't right for you. Well then maybe you want to do something once a week.
Mark: I mean, the Christians have their Sunday, right? And
Yucca: lot of religions have,
Mark: have their Friday into Saturday. There's, yes, there are a lot of religions that have a day that is very special for them.
Well, you can declare one if you want,
Mark: or you can declare an hour one day a week when you're gonna do your.
Mark: your ritual things that help you to feel connected and feel filled with the enormity of yourself and of the universe is the way that I would say that. So don't worry about all that.
Find a cadence that works for you and maybe if you work 60 hours a week and have three kids, Maybe that's not very often. Maybe it's just like I'm gonna celebrate the full moons and the Wheel of the year Sabbaths, and that's all I can manage.
Yucca: Mm-hmm. , or I'm gonna add. A daily thing in that when I wash my face in the morning, I'm gonna take 60 seconds extra to do something. Right. And I think now might be a good PO place to put in a reminder that a practice is something that when practices, it may not be easy in the.
Yucca: right? Just because you decide, oh yes, I'm gonna do this every day.
Doesn't mean you're gonna remember every day, but the more times you do, the more times you do it, the better you get at the skill. But it is, it is a skill, right? So if it's something that really is important to you and it's something that you choose to to work on, then that's something that over time, , you'll be able to develop, but you don't have to beat yourself up if it doesn't come naturally.
In the beginning, I don't know who it would come natural for.
Mark: Yeah, I, I, I don't either. And one of the reasons why we call it a practice is because you have to practice, right? It's, it's not an action. It's not a thing that you do, and then it's done. It's not a destination, it's a practice, which means it's an ongoing process.
Mark: And the day when you feel really angry, Fucked up and unable to deal with anything.
is as good a day for your practice as any other day, because that's as true humanly as anything else.
Yucca: Or perhaps even more important that day than other days
Mark: Maybe. Maybe so.
Yucca: maybe that is really the day that, that you need to, that you do need the time in front of the candle or the breathing or whatever it is that you do,
Mark: because. . You know, if the world has really beat on you hard in a given day, you know, maybe you need to gather yourself back together and remember your reasons for self-esteem. Remember your reasons why you're doing what you're doing. And remember that no matter what has happened out there in the world, people don't see you for the entirety of who you. they can't, even if they know you for years, they can't. But if they don't, or if they only see you in really constrained situations like a professional office or something like that, they cannot know the enormity of who you are. And you need to, you need to hold the reality of that in yourself, even if they don.
Mark: Even if they aren't reflecting back to you how glorious you are, you still are is what I want to say to you.
Mark: Humans are magnificent and you're one of 'em,
Mark: so. Yes, you can do a lunar cycle. That's not something that has appealed to me so much, although I love the moon. I'm always aware of what cycle the moon is in. I always go out and look at the full moon because I just love it. And I'll put out some water in the moonlight to turn into moon water that I can pour on my altar and stuff like that.
I have some incredible water that I just got. We had this torrential rainstorm,
Mark: something like four and a half, five inches of rain, torrential rainstorm, and then it cleared off and the full moon rose. This was on January 6th. and so I have storm moon, water. I, I, this is water that fell from the sky during the storm that I gathered and then sat out in the moonlight overnight.
And I'm saving that for special rituals. And yes, of course all imaginary, but it's still really cool, right? Mm-hmm.
Yucca: Yeah. Right. It's not that if you gave the water to me without telling me that it would suddenly do something different when I used it than if I used any other water. But because you have that memory and that association with it, that. it. Something's triggered in you when you look at it and use it and feel it.
Mark: right. I mean, I will be saving this for our Saan ritual. Our hall's ritual coming up in the beginning of November because part of what we do then is pour water onto the dry ground to call the rain back.
Mark: That's a part of the symbolic action that we do during that ritual, and so I brought a big storm with me, lots of rain.
Yucca: Come back. All of it, yeah. Oh, wonderful.
Mark: So you can do a monthly practice, a, a lunar practice. Some people are really. Connected with and motivated by the moon. I, I don't have that as much, but that's great. You know, if you feel that sort of connection with the lunar cycle, then by all means orient your personal practice around that cycle. You can do something at the new Moon.
You can do something at the full moon if you want to. You can do them at the quarters as well. That gives you a weekly practice every seven days. So I think what we're basically saying here is craft the practice that really works for who you are.
Mark: And that leads me, oh, go ahead.
Yucca: Oh, please continue.
Mark: Well, that leads me to talking about, well, what happens when you have this practice and you've been doing it for five years and it's starting to feel really like you're phoning it. And to me, since spirituality is about growth, it's not only about connection and sense of connectedness, it's about growth. And so I think there are things you can do with your practice to push the edge. And they can be everything from, I've had a solitary practice for a long time. I'm gonna invite somebody else into that.
Mark: Someone who I trust, someone who I'm connected with. I'm gonna show this part of my life to them and see if they'll join me in participating in these kinds of activities. That's a big risk, but it's also something. Presents an opportunity for relationship building that could be really powerful.
Mark: And I've got others, but Yucca. I'm interested in hearing what you have to say.
Yucca: I don't remember . I, I was gonna say something. Oh, it's fine. That's the way conversations go, right? So I think, I mean the, the keeping. having a little bit of the, the new and the growth and the, the novelty, the that in. I think that's one of the ways that keeps us present too. Because when it's just the same, we don't notice as much.
Mark: It is amazing how much we can drop into routine mode.
Mark: I mean, driving to work, if you do it every day, you can't remember the drive.
Yucca: Yeah. Did you, did you stop at that stop sign? You must probably, did you even go through, you had to have gone through the stop sign, right? Cause it was back there. Yeah.
Mark: Yeah. It is astounding how much our brains will skip over stuff that seems repetitive, which is why when we travel or take vacations or do creative things, we're really engaged and have very powerful memories because it's all new.
Mark: We remember the novelty. , if your practice is starting to feel routine and drab, it's time to take a step.
It's it's time to do something new.
Yucca: Right? And we're not saying get rid of the stuff that's working. Right, because if there's something, if you have something where you know, every single evening before you go to or whatever and it, it, it fills a function for you, then, then keep that up. But what is it? What can you add or what can you shift?
What can you change a little bit that might. Work better for you and looking at what is it that you want too, because sometimes just making any change might not be the change that that is gonna help you in that moment.
Mark: Right, right. And there. There are changes that you can make that are internal changes. There are changes that you can make that are sort of outward facing changes, like inviting someone else or a, a, a community of people into participating in your celebrations of the sabbaths or whatever it is. There are internal things that you can do too.
Like, okay, I'm gonna take up a meditation practice. and that can be very hard for a lot of us. I have a D H D I'm terrible at meditating really bad at it. My mind is just all over the place and I understand that at some level that's a deep Buddhistic failing . But honestly, I just, I don't do very well with it.
I do great with sitting out in nature and observing things.
Mark: because it's like, oh, bird, oh, squirrel. Oh, you know, I'm, oh, waving trees in the wind. I'm, I'm constantly stimulated by different things that are drawing my attention, but if it comes down to just closing my eyes and trying to have an internal experience, I'm not very good at that.
But a lot of people are, and it gives them a lot of feed. It gives them a lot of benefit. from a psychological and spiritual standpoint. So maybe that's the thing that you want to do. Maybe you need some kind of experience that's going to shake you up spiritually, and that could be everything from going skydiving to taking a hallucinogen,
Mark: any, you know, some sort of intense experience that just makes you.
Rethink things. Gives you a new perspective.
Yucca: Right. And as we were saying before that if things start, if you feel like you've fallen off that wagon, it's okay. Right? You could just, it's not gone. The wagon's waiting, waiting for you. Right. You can get back up because you are the wagon. , we're just gonna play with the metaphors there. So, it, mm-hmm.
Mark: Well, I was gonna say the metaphor that I usually use for people's like New Year's resolutions or. , you know, declarations, I'm never going to do this again, or I'm always going to do this again. These very black and white sort of declarations. It's sort of like the over culture's idea of virginity, right?
It's like, okay, when it's gone, it's gone. It's gone forever. Well, that's. Bullshit. It's entirely invented. It has nothing to do with reality. The truth is that if you decide you're gonna stop smoking pot and you do that for six months and then you smoke pot, well, all you gotta do is not do it tomorrow.
Yucca: Yeah. It's not like it's, it's all over
Mark: Yeah. You, you, you haven't ruined anything. You've just backslid. there's probably a reason for that that you should interrogate, because it'll tell you more about yourself. But just, just do it again tomorrow.
Mark: just keep going. You know? It's like, perfection is not the standard.
Yucca: Mm-hmm. , but that,
Mark: Oh, go
Yucca: that you mentioned, that's, that's really important though, right? Looking at, well, why did it. , why did it happen today? Right. And is that something that I can prepare myself for in the future? Right? If, if a similar situation comes up in the future, what can I do instead?
Or what can I do to not be in that position or, you know, that, that, that can all be incorporated in Yeah.
Mark: or can I just forgive myself because my mom died?
Mark: and it was, it was pretty damned intense, and I just went back to the chemical crutch that was most convenient for me, but my mom's only gonna die once, so it's not like I'm creating excuses to keep doing this again and again. This was a really serious, intense experience for me, and, and I, I fell back on my habits.
There's no shame there.
Mark: you know, there's, there's, there's no, there's no guilt trip and, you know, self-flagellation thing that's necessary there. There's just understanding. Okay, that's why I did that. Now tomorrow, I'm not gonna do that again.
Yucca: Yeah. Or for the rest of the evening.
Yucca: Right. You know, that's just, that's one that that could be a little bit tricky when it, whenever it's something like that, like, oh, well, I'll just do it for the rest of the day. , right? When you're trying to change dietary habits or substance habits, well, it's like, well, I had one bite of the thing.
I might as well, you know, I, I had that,
Mark: Today's blown. I
Yucca: Yeah, I might as well just order the pizza and while I'm at it, get the lava cake and I'll have that Coke too. Yeah, . So this one just, that's, just be careful about that cuz you know, you. getting back on the horse. You can always get back on the horses.
Get back as soon as you can.
Yucca: But yeah.
Mark: And and I think in the broader sense, it bears saying that our path. Really doesn't endorse the idea of self-punishment as the means to growth, right? You know, the, the guilt, the shame, the self-flagellation, all that stuff, none of that is beneficial. That's just really a nasty model for how people's behavior modifies.
Yucca: That's how you get obedience. That's not how you get growth.
Yucca: Right. And even then you only get obedience when you're looking.
Mark: E, exactly. So, yeah, and we're not about obedience. We're we're about you being you. And that's it.
Mark: it. Right?
Yucca: well, and, and happy. And part of, you know, this larger context of a, you know, healthy and joyous society, part of this incredible planet that against all odds exists at this moment in time.
Mark: Right, right. Yeah. So all that said, this sort of big picture stuff, yes, you can do those less frequent practices you can also shake up your existing practice with something that'll shake it up and, and that is, I mean, really that is down to you what. what will shake it up for you? Will going to a dance club and dancing with other people around is, is that the big hurdle to get over?
Mark: Or is it cooking a meal and inviting people to come in and all of them can experience your cooking? It's like, there, there are lots and lots of different ways that it can be.
Yucca: or letting yourself do something that is just about you, right? That yes, you are going to get that massage or you are just gonna hang out and. Turn everything off and be by yourself for a couple of hours, or go on that hike or whatever it is that for you is the thing.
Mark: right. Or broaching that subject with your partner about that thing that you want sexually that you've never talked about, right? Because it's about owning more of yourself, right? It's like, this is me. I'm okay with me, I'm gonna present me to the dearest person in my world and we'll see what happens. I just think that if your, if your orientation is towards growing and getting bigger and more complex and more interesting and more creative throughout the course of your life, then these things will occur to you. There are. of other possibilities that Yucca and I have not described in this podcast that would work perfectly for shaking up your practice and, you know, bringing that sense of adventure into your life a little more.
But the point is to be willing to do it and it takes some gut. So maybe you have to sit for a while in your personal practice. Okay, here I am. I'm sitting with the candles and I'm thinking, well, what I would really like is this. And then there's this cascade in your mind of, oh, but I can't have that because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, some of those things may be true, but you can still assert what you want in the.
Mark: right? You can still do unexpected, you know, go on a road trip.
Mark: It's like, okay, you know, you've been married for 25 years and the kids are all grown and stuff, and it's like, you know what? I want a vacation by myself. And it's knowing insult to you.
It's not anything about you, it's just I want to go on a road trip. Get on the road, go do that, and maybe it's only two, three days long. It doesn't have to be, you know, this huge production, but just getting yourself out and feeling like, wow, here I am behind the wheel and I can go anywhere I want. And it's not a problem for anybody else. I can just go there.
Mark: and when I'm tired of driving I can stop and I can find a motel or a campsite. That's a great feeling. It's an incredible feeling. It's very freeing and think there are a lot of people out there that could really do with that kind of experience.
Yucca: Mm-hmm. Hmm. Well, there's a lot more things to brainstorm, but I think that's a good place for us to pause and, and leave it to all of you to brainstorm what sort of things those might be for you and if that's what, where you're at with your practice, so,
Mark: sure. For sure. More than anything else. I think, you know, the takeaway from this is a personal practice is a means to your personal growth.
Mark: So have one, know, figure out, figure out something that feels like it feeds you in that way. And there's lots of materials out there. There's a bunch of stuff at atheopagan dot com about starting a practice.
Ultimately it's down to you. It's down to what you want. And what we want for you is what is most engaging and actualizing and happiness, fomenting and all that. Cause that's how we roll.
Yucca: Yep. And we'll be back next week with a holiday episode.
Mark: Yes, a holiday episode. Woo-hoo. Hard to believe it's rolled around already, but
Yucca: here we are.
Mark: here we are. Alright, thank you so much, Yucca.
Yucca: Thank you everybody.