I’ve just come back from an enlightening weekend at the International Enneagram Association conference in San Antonio. Summer in Texas is no joke. #dryheat. I’m happy to be back in the northeast though where we are being cooled by more rain than is strictly necessary for a summer.

It was great to catch up with my network of study buddies and fellow coaches using this amazing tool. The theme of the conference was transformational practices. So juicy! Juicy like summer peaches, big slices of watermelon and ripe tomatoes. Sink your teeth in and slurp it up juicy.  Developing our human skills of self awarenss, discipline, and creativity are what I think about a good part of my waking life. The rest of the time I like to talk about it, mull it over, read about it, teach other people about it and maybe think some more.

In contrast, the sessions I attended really brought home for me the importance of doing ie. the practice and repetition of action in order to embody the learning that awareness of mental habits brings about. Real change can only be judged by the evidence provided by some action or another or more often the consistent taking of that action. The point was emphasized on the final day when, in a summary presentation, repetition was noted to be one of the four essential elements of transformative practice. Our brains literally rewire themselves in response to our experience and this neurogenesis continues throughout our lives.

I am reminded of this quote from historian Will Durant, who was paraphrasing Aristotle – “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit”, which was much drummed into me while studying at the Atlantic Theater Co. Voice warm ups, running lines and moving with intention being the actions there.

Our connection to the present moment can only be felt in our physical body. Returning to the sensation of the breath during meditation keeps us grounded and attentive. When good things are happening we “pinch” ourselves to prove that we are not dreaming, that we really exist and that what we see and feel is not an illusion. In truth, any action done with intention can be a way of “pinching” ourselves, proving that what we are is real and can’t be undone. Practice connects us to this intention and brings us into alignment with our goals with immediacy and awareness, creating lasting change.

In an effort to be more present to all the goodness in my life, I am committing to actions that show my intention to be conscious, creative and kind. Simple things like weeding the garden, visiting a neighbor and writing daily are the foundations, anything that makes me feel connected to my environment and careful of my well being. I also “pinch” myself by doing the dishes, making my bed and taking a walk. I won’t argue with myself about the value of these actions, but undertake them wholeheartedly as the transformative practices that they are.

How do you pinch yourself? I’d love to hear your favorite ways to connect with the goodness of your life. Leave a comment below to join the conversation.