Practices work in a limited sense, inviting in shifts within content of experience, and also in what we take as what we are.
They are an invitation and nothing more, so they don’t work if we expect something more.
Sometimes, they may not work at all, they don’t give me the effect I wanted or expected, and this is an opportunity for coming to terms with what is, and that “I” – the sense of separate I – cannot “do” anything. It is humbling, and really an invitation for beliefs and identities around wanting things to be different to wear off, and the same with a sense of a doer. (Because these are imagined in the first place.)
The next one is where I am now, so there isn’t that much perspective or familiarity with it yet. It is one that may emerge further into the path, as an inevitable and lived experience. As with all of these, if is made into a belief it gets weird. And if it is triggered by stories (teachings) and not arrived at organically, it also gets a little weird. The value of mentioning this one is to have an idea of what to expect, and for those who already in it to see that it is normal. Otherwise, it is not important.
Practices have served me well for a long time, and I may continue to have a great deal of appreciation for them. But at some point, even if they continue to work in the usual sense, they don’t work.
They may invite in shifts within content of experience, and even in identification, but none of those touches what I am and everything is. And that is where this process is going, shifting identification into that which is not touched by any practice.
Also, this is a process of wearing off of all beliefs and identifications, so there is an acute realization of the irony of an “I” doing a practice to allow that illusory “I” to wear off. There is a sense of having painted oneself in a corner, with nowhere to go.
Practices have their time and place, and they are still valuable in a limited sense – maybe especially in allowing my human self to continue healing and maturing. I may still continue to use them, because what else is there to do, but the hope for what they can do is not there as before.
There is a very healthy disillusionment here.
It is a beautiful place to be, in many ways. There is still appreciation for practices and what they do, a wearing off of hope for what they can do in this situation, and a recognition that the grittiness of life itself wears off remaining beliefs and identifications.
So to summarize, practices work in a limited sense, in inviting a shift in content of experience or what we take ourselves to be. They don’t work if we expect them to be anything more than an invitation. They may not work at all, which is an invitation for us to notice that everything lives its own life, on its own schedule. And they may work as before, but now don’t “do it” since what is left is a wearing out of the last identifications as an “I” and a doer, and that process lives its own life and happens (at least partly) through the grittiness of daily life.