a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

That’s Why They Call It Practice

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

This whole CHANGE thing is huge. There’s so many places we can and should make changes in our lives and in ourselves. It’s at once daunting, exciting, impossible and inevitable.

It’s like one of the ways in which I describe the experience of yoga practice – it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You’ve just dumped a box of jigsaw pieces onto the table and now you have to starting putting it together. You begin by picking up a piece and taking a look, then looking at another and another and you keep coming back to a few that somehow seem to fit together and then you’ve got something in place – a foundation to work from. It can be a long, arduous process but somehow you feel drawn towards it because each piece is a glimpse of something beautiful and you can’t resist wanting to see just how it all will look and how it will feel when it’s complete.

Ok, that’s how I describe yoga to my students. Then I realized that it’s how you can describe any process of change and/or growth, including the shift to a more sustainable and beautiful world. You have to first get curious, then do the work – in pieces. At times it will feel frustrating, boring or both, but you keep coming back to discover more because there is something inside you that says it will be worthwhile.

Each day you keep hearing that voice, so you continue checking in and coming back to the work in progress. In between, you rest and laugh and play, but you keep coming back. Every day. Suddenly you discover yourself and your life, in its entirety, in its fullness, in its simplicity. It’s then that all things seem possible.

2 Responses to “That’s Why They Call It Practice”

  1. Jerry Stifelman Says:

    This post really puts it all together. The jigsaw puzzle metaphor rings hard for me. You get to know the whole by getting to know the pieces.

  2. Steven Jurgens-Ling Says:


    Thank you. That was a really wonderful analogy and one I will no doubt be pondering. As a painter in my (prolonged) infancy – off the trail and on again – that’s the way I find painting to be a good bit here, a puzzle there, and always drawn to the inescapable beauty that may or may not just yet be in hand – but each stroke closer. See I can’t put it as well as you, but I feel it and it has added hope to my quest to someday paint beauty if I keep at it, and added fuel to my desire to be ever more a part of the change. I’ll be coming back to this one.


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