What’s It Mean to Practice Praxis?

“I know, I know; why can’t I just DO it!” (Have you ever thought these words, or even muttered them aloud when you were in the midst of a decision or taking action on something important in your life? I sure have!) I was reminded of this internal struggle when I recently read a passage from the pages of Alan Seale’s brilliant book, Create a World that Works:

Praxis means not only knowing our essence and truth but also living it through the choices we make and the actions we take.

Praxis – the integration of belief and behaviour. Been there, and not quite done it.  I have all the good intentions and so often I just miss closing the loop between knowing and doing. What do I need to recognize, to keep myself from running in circles in my head and my daily life?

Firstly, I could acknowledge that becoming aware is an action in itself.  Noticing is often the first step, regardless of whether a new perspective arrives through animated conversation, a self-help book or owl-post. What matters most is the awakening. Once we know something, it is hard to “un-know” it.

Secondly, holding space is another seemingly nebulous and highly necessary step in the integration of thinking and doing. Intentionally setting time aside in my daily life is an enormous step forward. New habits and patterns need room to grow; this step is all about making space in my calendar and in my head for something different to emerge.

Thirdly, my own heart must embrace the desired outcome – emotional passion fuels dreams. I could ask myself, “Does what I am doing have a purpose and enough heart-strings to make the effort worth it?” “Is this even my project or have I been hijacked to do something that really belongs to someone else?”

And finally, I could consider my intuitive wisdom. To desire an outcome in the heat-of-the-moment is quite different than knowing deep-down-inside that it is “do-able”. It takes courage to challenge the fears and doubts that surface in order to move forward. What does this commitment mean to me? Is this decision in line with who I am and what I want to do?

Praxis is entirely abstract until it is tangible. Standing up, showing up, growing up. It’s the “once and for all” commitment with legs. Knowing and doing seem miles apart when faced with a daunting task, and I’ve discovered the most effective path from the starting mark to the finishing line is just taking one step at a time. This means walking my talk- not just for me, but for all who came before me and will come after me. Recognizing that my actions create ripples in the world around me is profound. So, maybe it’s time to open my eyes, size up the situation, chose who I want to be and make time for what is important to ME. It’s time to practice praxis!

Could you use a little praxis in your life? How would things be different if you re-examined and only committed to what you were really willing to follow through on?

Photo Credit: Kyle Glenn