Interplay Between Domains of Practice

The different domains of practice inform and strengthen one another.  My spiritual practice involves my mind, my mind is invigorated by the practice of my body, my body is relaxed by the stilling of my emotions, etc.

The book Spark discusses the connection between aerobic exercise and cognition.  In nearly all of his books, Mortimer Adler explores the relation between a liberal education and “the good life.”  Plato thought mathematics so important that he inscribed above the door to his Academy the words, “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.”

Life is a systemic network of connections between disparate entities, even in our own quintessence.  We function best as chorus singing in harmony, whether as facets of the self, or as facets of the community.

When one part grows out of control, or out of balance, a cancer develops.  Unregulated growth is almost the very definition of cancer.

Oftentimes we want to group like with like.  We may seek out those who share our interests, our beliefs, our culture, etc.  I have talked at some length about doing that very thing in this blog.

However we need the balance of opposites to keep our lives in proportion, to give perspective to our world view, to bring our melody into harmony with the world around us.

Wisdom is a melting pot of praxis, of faith, of art.  It is seeing, listening, and feeling at multiple levels, with multiple modalities.  It invites challenge, invites discussion, and allows for disagreement.

Seek out a variety of voices to sing in your group.

The Circle of Practice

Why a circle of practice?  Why not a straight line of practice?  Or a four square practice?

Our lives are lived on a continuum of spirit, mind, body, and emotions; of family, friends, and the larger community; of vocation, finances, and household management.  All these things matter in the quality of our lives.  If we let one of them blow up, it makes living well much more difficult and less likely.

The circle of practice is intended to reflect the importance of this continuum, and to encourage me to establish a “practice” in each domain so that I have a reasonable degree of competence and satisfaction in each of these areas.

A circle is balanced, with each point equidistant from the center.

You may not recognize the same domains in your own life, but we all have more than one role to play.  Here is what I mean by each of these domains:

  1. Spirit: the faculty and activity of meaning making, purpose, and values; the source of our life vision and goals; the source of our faith.
  2. Mind: that by which we know and understand the world; the sources of our information, and the processes and structures by which we process that information and solve problems.
  3. Body: the flesh and blood vessel of our physical selves together with the care and maintenance of the same.
  4. Emotions: our physical reactions to thoughts and social interactions such as love, hate, joy, depression, compassion, and indifference.
  5. Family: our blood relations as well as relations by marriage, or people living under the same roof.
  6. Social: our friends, our colleagues at work and school, our community of faith, and political communities of city, state, nation, and world.
  7. Vocation: those activities associated with earning a living.
  8. Finances: personal finance, managing the household income and capital.
  9. Household: the care of children, preparation of food, and maintenance of the home.

My goal is to find an effective and efficient practice for each of these domains, practice regularly, and share them with you.

Choosing What to Practice

This may seem like a silly post.  We practice the thing we want to be good at, right?

Well, is there anything we do we don’t want to be good at?  Consider the domains of your life, such as spirit, mind, and body; or family, friends, and community; or professional, financial, and household.

In other words, a domain of life is a kind of abstraction, where a certain set of rules, skills, or relationships apply that do not obtain in another.  There may be a certain amount of overlap, but in general the different domains require different competencies in order to be successful.

Is there any domain in which you live that you wouldn’t choose to be competent? Suppose you are an accountant, married with children.  Just to be an accountant implies a certain level of competence.  In general a person would need to go to college and earn a degree in accounting to even be considered for an accounting job placement.

But beyond that, what do we expect?  Does the person expect to continue “practicing” accounting in the sense of going above and beyond what is required for her job in order to get better at accounting?  Does she have a professional practice?

What about being married with children?  How do we get better at being a spouse, or parent?  Being married with children generally implies we live together; that we pay our bills from a pooled income; that we maintain our home together; and that we parent our kids together.  But how do we become competent at those things?  Does being a good accountant imply we will be a good spouse and a good parent?

This week we will be looking at the idea of domains of practice.