my practice isn’t working

August 20th, 2015

If my practice doesn’t make me more tolerant, humble,
and generous,
my practice isn’t working.
If my practice doesn’t make me more respectful, loving, and
my practice isn’t working.
If I can’t forgive and forget
begin again
stop, drop
turn around
wake up
say hello say goodbye
be kind be quiet be still
listen laugh
cry it out
give it time
sit down stand up
get over myself
admit I don’t know
then my practice isn’t working.
If I’m not less cynical, less critical, less arrogant, less mean
then my practice isn’t working.
If my practice doesn’t fill me with wonder, gratitude,
fearlessness, faith and trembling doubt
my practice doesn’t work.

Does my practice work?
Only when I practice.
Let’s do it. Soon.



  1. This is almost word for word the checklist I have beside my bed that I use as a gauge for how I want to live my life. Whenever I am not being the person I know I was born to be, I take myself back to square one in my practice. At first it felt overly simplistic to me, but really, why does it need to be more complicated than that? It works!

    Comment by Mani — February 28, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  2. practice makes perfect
    imperfect is the new perfect

    Comment by Connie Assadi — February 28, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  3. And if you think your practice isn’t working, it probably is.

    Comment by Lorianne — February 28, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  4. This is so perfect for me right now.

    Today I tried to hire someone to do a job that he advertised for. It came up in conversation that I was a Mormon. He quickly expressed his refusal to do the work for me because he felt like he would be selling his soul to do work for a Mormon.


    Comment by Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud — February 28, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  5. i love this : )

    Comment by stella — March 1, 2011 @ 2:09 am

  6. I’m printing this and posting it in a few favourite spots! Thank you.

    Comment by Christine — March 1, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  7. Karen, Reading this at Kripalu, where I am humbled every time I turn around by the power of practice, and where I am blessed to have the opportunity to practice from 6 am till 9 pm every day for a month. I never would have guessed that there is so much to learn from returning, over and over again, to the very same place, and finding something different there every single time. For me, it is a revelation. Thiank you for putting it all into words.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — March 1, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  8. and this is why i practice…grateful for your encouragement and the love you radiate

    Comment by Meg Casey — March 2, 2011 @ 7:35 am

  9. I’ve decided to make you my teacher. I realize that it probably doesn’t work that way…but I’ve decided it none the less.

    I pledge to absorb whatever you have to teach – even from a far. Thank you for the way you gently remind me again and again to get over myself. This is a lesson I have needed to hear for a long time. And I’m sure I’ll need to hear it again and again and again – I’ll keep practicing until I get it right 😉

    Comment by Erica — March 2, 2011 @ 9:00 am

  10. Thank you for this humble reminder.

    Comment by Jan — March 3, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  11. oh how i wish i could join you for your one-day meditation retreat! as a very, very new meditation student (thanks to your plunge retreat last month!) it’s so easy to think to myself…why do i sit there? what is it doing? i don’t feel anything! i just keep thinking back to you saying (and this is in my own words) that exposing us to meditation was the most important thing you could do that day. we all had questions and doubts…and you stood firm telling us (once again – my interpretation) to start a practice…it will make a difference. thank you so much for this grounding list…our practice will make a difference.

    Comment by Tamara — March 3, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  12. yes.

    Comment by melissa — March 3, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  13. perfection…for the many moments i’m so aware of my imperfections!!

    Comment by Jan — March 3, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  14. […] more than one tarot reader that a meditation practice is essential, so I direct you to a lovely post by Karen Miller about her practice and when she knows it’s not working.  I could apply this […]

    Pingback by Tarot Passion » Blog Archive » Calming The Storm Inside — July 24, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  15. Neither is mine, and so I commit to return, again, and again, and again. Passing this ever wise and kind post on and on, with gratitude.

    Comment by Katharine Weinmann — June 11, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  16. Why is it so hard to do something so good!

    Comment by marilee pittman — June 11, 2012 @ 10:47 am

  17. […] my practice isn’t working. By Karen Maezen Miller […]

    Pingback by “My Practice Isn’t Working” « Ramblings by Robin Scanlon — June 26, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  18. […] more than one tarot reader that a meditation practice is essential, so I direct you to a lovely post by Karen Miller about her practice and when she knows it’s not working.  I could apply this […]

    Pingback by Calming The Storm Inside | Tarot Passion — January 31, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  19. You are so dear to me! Kind and beautifully expressed words from a true heart.
    A bow to you

    Comment by Rosie S — August 21, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

  20. My practice does me. I may not always recognize it but oh, it’s happening alright. Thank you for your inspirations.

    Comment by Mary — August 21, 2015 @ 3:36 pm

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