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How to rate the quality of an ethical and spiritual practice? Survey.

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A high number of questions received by the OstadElahi inPractice website’s support team seem to suggest that assessing the quality of one’s ethical and spiritual practice is a difficult task. OstadElahi inPractice currently offers two online practical curricula: Toward an in vivo practice and Connecting with the Divine. Participants in those labs can regularly assess their practice of an ethical and spiritual exercise, which they have chosen after several reflection and analysis phases. They can record their daily self-assessment in this window by selecting “success” or “failure” (quantitative aspect) and by grading the quality of their practice on a scale of 0 to 10 (qualitative aspect), and they can use the dedicated text box for some notes or personal experiences:

 

quality rating practice

 

Some of the feedback received suggests that it is easier to determine the result of one’s practice quantitatively—if the exercise was clear and precise, the answer will most often be binary, yes or no, I succeeded or I failed—than qualitatively—I succeeded or I failed, but in what way, what was the quality of my practice? This qualitative evaluation is key in so far as it helps you progress if you take it into account, but the criteria on which it is based vary greatly from one person to another and they evolve together with experience. Yet the nutritional value of a practice for one’s soul and, beyond that, one’s inner transformation depend at least partly on this quality. We thus thought it worthwhile to roughly delineate what it means and involves, with the following poll as a starting point. A few multiple choice questions are followed by two open questions, which will allow you to share valuable experiences with other readers.

Take part in the survey!

Note that you do not need to answer all the questions at once – you can take all the time you need.

 

If you are viewing this article from the mobile app, click here to participate in the poll.

1. You find assessing the quality of your ethical and spiritual practice:

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2. How regularly do you seriously think about the quality of your practice?

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3. You tend to think about the quality of your practice:

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4. What do you find most difficult when trying to assess the quality of your practice?

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5. OstadElahi inPractice indicates the following in a tooltip : Rate the quality of your practice on a scale of 0 to 10. For instance, if you have failed but you have made some efforts or learned something about yourself, etc. you can take it into account in this evaluation. Conversely, you may have succeeded but without paying attention or by chance, with no real benefit or effort. These criteria are personal and may evolve: they depend on one’s experience and strategy.

Answer the following two questions in the comments section:

  1. “These criteria are personal and may evolve: they depend on one’s experience and strategy.” : What are the criteria you use in your assessment? That is, what are the parameters that allow you to determine the quality of your practice? Any “tips and tricks” to improve on this?
  2. To be concrete: share an experience illustrating how you have used these criteria and how they proved to be determining or insufficient. .

Further readings :

OstadElahi inPractice

oe-ip_logo A new tool for spiritual and ethical practice

In all areas, real progress requires theory to be repeatedly put into practice. Ethics and spirituality are no exceptions. As often pointed out on e-ostadelahi.com, it is only through practicing ethical and spiritual principles and thus assimilating them that we can transform ourselves… [read more]

ostadelahi-inpractice-prayer-186x186 “Connecting with the Divine”: a new lab on OstadElahi-inPractice.com

What is prayer? What purpose does it serve? What is its role in the process of spiritual perfection? Under what conditions can one best benefit from prayer? [read more]

Case studies

ratings-300x300 An ethical dilemma on TripAdvisor: what do you think?

[…] We had looked up somewhat systematically comments and ratings shared by fellow travellers on TripAdvisor, in order to plan a few days of vacation. For those unfamiliar with it, TripAdvisor is a website that allows you to find out what other travellers have thought about a hotel… [read more]

penrose triangle Ethics in a delicate situation: what do you think?

[…] Jack and Kelly are a couple. Jack is very socially involved and devotes a lot of his time to charitable activities in their neighborhood. Winter has been particularly harsh this year and Jack has been volunteering countless hours and coming back home very late every night… [read more]

Follow-ups


ratings-300x300
Creating the conditions for the successful practice of ethical principles
This post is a follow-up to a previous post entitled “Ethics in a delicate situation: what do you think?”, which presented a hypothetical case study together with a poll. Let us begin with a few remarks about the poll results… [read more]
conflit2 Is life as a couple a “laboratory” for the practice of ethics?

Family life is filled with delights and annoyances that are felt particularly deeply within the couple itself. The hypothetical case study of “Jack and Kelly” offers an illustration that many of you have commented on… [read more]


See also:


Creative Commons License This work is offered under a Creative Commons licence

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62 comments

  1. BM Dec 22, 2014 5:56 am 1

    1) when trying to assess the quality of my efforts I think several factors are at play and I use those to determine the rating of my practice. First is attention to my practice. Was I aware of my intentions and surroundings or I did I not think at all about my practice and was reminded by chance to perform it, or somewhere in between. Next is the energy and that I put into it and the level of priority. Did I perform 7 other mundane tasks before getting to the exercise or did I set out first to do it. Lastly organization is the the other criteria which I base my score on. Did I schedule this into my daily life or did it just happen on its own haphazardly.

    2) there have been times that I was successful at my practice but I gave myself a 6/10 due to low energy and priority level, and other times that I was not successful but made significant efforts and I just fell short and I would score myself 4,5/10.

    In the end it’s a subjective scoring and one should consider a baseline of success and failure and modify ones score based on those criteria.

    1. M Dec 23, 2014 1:33 am 1.1

      Thanks.
      It was very helpful

    2. MJ Dec 24, 2014 9:03 am 1.2

      The comments from BM are very helpful. I often give myself a very low score for the quality because I was not successful (regardless of my efforts). The final score for the quality is multi-factorial. From now on, I will start paying attention to my intention, energy and my effort.

    3. D Dec 25, 2014 5:46 am 1.3

      You summed it up very well!

  2. AT Dec 22, 2014 9:46 am 2

    I gave myself score of 7 or more and that is not because I’m perfect and always aware of my practices. Due to my special physical and long term chronic disease I’ve learned in addition to fatigue and heat I have to avoid “stress.” Therefore, I’ve developed my own ways of avoiding stress e.g. if I’m stuck in traffic I neither change lines or course, I close the windows and listen to a spiritual or classic music and detach my self from surrounding stressful condition. The same goes with other my other daily life activities and encounters. If I can’t help others at least I won’t violate their rights, therefore I seldom encounter any conflict and If I do I’ll try to withdraw ASAP for self preservation.
    For me, ethical practices are not a matter of failure or success, they are vital for my CNS health and best stress prevention tools, same as my physical exercises which are vital for my mobility and strength.

  3. A. Dec 22, 2014 11:32 am 3

    My practical work consists in starting three daily activities thinking about Him. From a quantitative point of view I need to remember how many times I paid attention to Him at the end of the day. From a qualitative point of view it is instead more difficult and it is based on a global assessment of the day: if I have been overcome by events, if I have forgotten my prayers or if I did them without much concentration … then, most likely, my moments of attention before starting certain tasks have not been done well, or have been done mechanically …

    Several times it occurred to me that, following some days where my prayers had been done with a good level of concentration and where due to that I had been able to control my negative emotions, hence where I had been in control of the events in my day…. and where therefore, most likely, my moments of attention had been done well, I discovered a new personality trait of mine: the tendency to complain and to see things negatively. I have three children, my wife works more than full time and my mother, a recent widow, suffers from cancer and lives /is treated in another country for this cancer.

    To make the story short, I am either travelling due to professional reasons, or I need to look after the children, or I am travelling to go visit my mother and I have almost no more free time for those things I like and also to look for another job (I do not like my current one). This situation engenders several negative thoughts: “I am a slave, no vacations, no weekends, always working, travelling or taking care of someone …” Awareness of these thoughts, which, by the way, engenders slight depression and sometimes lack of patience towards those same people I need to help, has been possible, I believe, thanks to the divine light I have benefited as a result of my practice (attention before tasks) and as a result of my regular prayers.

    To conclude – due to my practice I have gotten to better know myself and I have in turn used this self-knowledge to better assess my practice at the end of the day: if I have not become aware (and possibly fought) against these thoughts which are so frequent and which should be visible if my moments of attention are done well, then the quality of those moments of attention before starting daily tasks is probably not what it should be.

  4. D Dec 22, 2014 1:15 pm 4

    1) I think intention is the most important factor. I check to see whether I wanted to get a check mark for my practice or actually wanted to do an in vivo practice with His satisfaction in mind. Second comes the actual action and the amount of time/effort/energy you put into your practice. I actually find it easy to see how much I’ve dedicated myself to my practice.

    One trick for me is to put my performance on a scale between two extreme points. When I do that, usually I can tell how much better I could have performed and that helps me evaluating my performance.

    2) One of my practical exercises is to do one act of kindness a day towards others. The least I can do is to give a few bucks to a needy person on the street. But I also could think thoroughly, manage my time, sacrifice my personal interests and find some time to spend some with my mom or teach her something that she would like to learn. With this example I can clearly tell how well one simple practical exercise can be done.

  5. Amy Dec 22, 2014 2:02 pm 5

    The present rating system of (yes/no)for each practice does not allow for the participants to rate their successes truthfully and properly. My experience has shown that generally working on a practical exercise in a given day there are both successes and failures thus if I put yes while I know a few times I was not successful I was not honest and truthful and if I put no because of the few failures then I have done injustice to the effort that I put in. Also rating the quality of our work cannot be done properly, because quality is a subjective matter and not measureable like quantity. Plus only God can truly determine the quality of one’s work as it depends on such variables as intention, attention and effort. So in my humble opinion I believe if the rating system changes to how many times in a given day a person has successes and failures then not only it increases the participant’s motivation because they can trace their successes and see if day by day the times that they have successes has increased or not, but also measurement of work quality would then become an integral part of the rating.

    1. Nel Dec 23, 2014 4:57 am 5.1

      I agree with Amy that this rating system does not allow for a true assessment of one’s practice and eventually leads to frustration.

    2. Linda Dec 24, 2014 10:55 pm 5.2

      I like your idea Amy! Although I am very specific with the language of my practical exercises, e.g. “at a minimum do one good deed per day” and I am able to say yes or no, but I like the idea of changing it to number of times. Quality though is a whole other issue. I just haven’t been able to find a way to measure and benefit from it.

    3. D Dec 25, 2014 6:40 am 5.3

      Amy I understand your point but I don’t see that as a problem for this tool. I think your problem could be solved by specifying a number in your practical like “doing whatever task 2 or 3 times per day” and you get a check only if you do them all. If that still doesn’t feel right, you can start with “once a day”. Regarding the quality, if you put this in the context of comparing ourselves with others then I do agree it’s very subjective. If you see it as actually what God thinks of our performance, that’s not even possible as I believe our greatest failures might be counted as success and vise versa from His point of view. So I think the aim of this tool is for “us” to keep track of our own performance and there is no winning/loosing. At least this is how I see it and I might be totally wrong. I’m glad you brought this up because I’m interested to see what others think of this subject.

    4. NJ Dec 26, 2014 2:21 am 5.4

      I think the issue may be due to the lack of precision in delineating a particular practical exercise rather than with the rating system itself. In other words, whilst I agree that in a given task one may succeed at times and fail at others, if the exercise benefits from a quantifiable component to it, then regardless of the number of one’s failures on that particular exercise, one can nevertheless claim success if the practical exercise’s quantifiable objective has been met. For example, if my exercise is to ensure that in at least one of my daily actions/decisions I ought to ask myself what is in line with God’s satisfaction and act accordingly, I can allow myself a successful score if I manage to do this the one time that I have set myself regardless of the numerous other times that I have failed to observe this in my daily actions/decisions.

      Equally, being aware of the cunning methods employed by one’s imperious-self allows for a more realistic perspective of one’s efforts without losing motivation. For, through obsessive scrutiny, the imperious-self attempts to undermine our efforts and thus discourage us from engaging in spiritual activities. Whilst there is no doubt that it is God who is the ultimate judge of all of our actions and intentions, we are nevertheless capable of evaluating our actions and intentions relative to our spiritual growth and maturity.

  6. NNF Dec 22, 2014 3:25 pm 6

    For starters, I think about my intention and attention when assessing the quality of my practice. Checking yes or no is easy for me because I either remembered to do my practical exercise or I didn’t. The challenge I faced was whether or not the quality of my performance was up to par. This required more reflection on my part, and there were days I felt guilty giving myself an 8 or 9 due to my attention when performing my practical exercise. As I continued to do my practical exercises day by day I realized it meant me thinking about them more and more throughout the course of my day. I was almost like a solider ready for the next move, in my case I was ready for any opportunity to execute my practical exercise and really try to practice in vivo. There were days I wasn’t successful at carrying out my exercise but it was constantly on my mind. In this case do I give myself a high score for thinking about it? Well, I think it has to do with intention and if I was truly seeking to put it into practice. I would ask myself if I was just being lazy or if I wasn’t as attentive to the numerous opportunities that God put my way everyday. I have learned that reflecting on your day is key to doing your practical exercises and really dissecting your overall attention and intention in the process.

  7. Saeed77 Dec 22, 2014 5:01 pm 7

    I assess the quality of my prayer based on:
    1-My intention/How much my prayer is for God Satisfaction
    2-My organization/ How well I prepared myself for prayer
    3-My sincere effort/How hard I worked
    4-Neutralizing the disturbing energy of my imperious self/This one is very difficult. One day I repeated my morning prayer 7 times, during this prayer 6 times I noticed my thoughts were not focused on each words,so I started again …finally I asked God for help…and I was able to finish my prayer(This day I marked my prayer 7/10)
    5- How much energy I got from God during my prayer. This factor is the most difficult one to evaluate.The way I evaluate how much energy I got form God ,was based on how much that day I was successful in helping others,How much my meditation was successful,…when the rate of my successes was good I knew it was divine energy helping me to do so.

  8. Elements Dec 22, 2014 5:25 pm 8

    I like this question, assess the quality, as its difficult and requires some real reflection.
    What is the quality of a spiritual practice? Is that something we can really assess ourselves?
    At first I would consider my effort or the obstacles overcome, but this to me doesn’t really give an indication of quality, I don’t think. I remembered a story of the priest and the kitten. One night when no one was looking he saved a dying stray kitten in the street. The only truly spiritually valuable act that saved him was one where he didn’t even realise he was doing it. So, purity of intention? Performed free of ego, with compassion and benevolence? An act that changes our nature and awakens our sound reason some how?
    Still, I find it difficult to give that a score out of 10. It feels like a student marking their own work, but I guess the idea is to become our own teachers.

  9. Azadeh Dec 22, 2014 6:10 pm 9

    To determine the quality of my practice I check:
    1) If my intentions were towards Gods Will
    2) If I learned something new in a real scenario
    3) If I could stand up against my unpleasant desires

    These three factors, are in comparison to the best that I could do( which is hard to determine!… vague for me), and how serious I took my relationship with God and fulfilling my duties, how cautiously I tried to improve the way I think…

  10. Holly Dec 23, 2014 1:23 am 10

    Criteria used in the assessment –
    1- I need and have no problems with being hard or give myself a pat on the shoulder – it is determined by a- sincereity , b- if the act has actually taken place ( e.g – have I managed to stick to the goal – for example – have I prayed at the allocated time that I had set for myself ) c- the quality of the actual task – have I given it my best shot – what true efforts have I made etc.,
    how I have used the above criterias?
    I used the above to assess. Both my daily and weekly practical exercises – I then evaluated the whole assessment at the end of each period – then decided if I was content with the outcome or if I felt ashamed with the lack of Will power and quality of my work ( which was usually the case ) then I either continued the same activity or tweaked it a bit and made it more realistic yet challenging and continued doing the same task – so that I could improve the quality of my task.

  11. Lisa Dec 23, 2014 1:33 am 11

    I found out that if I want to rate my practice on a scale from 0-10 I have to write down the number in this particular practice. If I had to do it five times (for instance attention to the Source), then I can rate myself. Next time I can then increase the number.
    Yet I also found out that it is somewhat hard to remember those times. Therefore, rating myself sometimes is more or less vague for me.

  12. khial Dec 23, 2014 2:20 am 12

    1- I assess the quality of my practice based on the impact it has on me.
    2-My feelings regarding how I have done.

  13. Sm Dec 23, 2014 10:53 am 13

    When I’m rating myself I think of several criterias, my intention that day, how much effort I put into it and the situations that came up. Sometimes I had the intention to practice but the situation didn’t come up or the senecio wasn’t there.
    For instance:
    If I’m trying to stay away from gossiping , some days I don’t face that challenge so I don’t know what score I should give myself! I had the intention to practice but I didn’t face my weakness that day! Times like that are when I get confused and don’t know what my score should be!

  14. julie Dec 23, 2014 11:20 pm 14

    I would explain by an example:
    Let’s say my goal is not to get angry at least once a day.
    I was about to get angry at one person once but I controlled myself, so I didn’t get angry at that person. But when I left the scene and I got into the car I yelled at myself and screamed by myself to make myself empty. At the end of the day I wanted to assess myself. I thought I was successful because I didn’t say anything to that person and I even laughed with him. But I screamed and my heart beat was so bad. That means I did 1 of 3 for being calm. So I gave myself 3 out of 10.

  15. julie Dec 23, 2014 11:22 pm 15

    Another example is that someone was trying to make me angry for about an hour. for 3/4 of hour I controlled myself to stay calm but in the last 15 minutes I exploded and I yelled at him. So at the end of the day I said I was not successful but since I had tried 3/4 hours so I have 7 out of 10 to myself.

    1. ia Dec 24, 2014 3:25 pm 15.1

      I like this reasoning.
      We tend to rejects our entire effort because in the end we failed, but I see how this could be our imperious self trying to make us depressed and realize that the 3/4 hour were beneficial and good and the end, when you exploded was not the ultimate evaluation of your practice, but only one part or it.
      I do find this clarity of mind hard but want to try.
      (The other day a strong feeling came over me that I was “bad” inside and that my practices and efforts to do well were a cover-up of my inner rottennness. I felt really bad for an hour or so and then realized this was my imperious self. If my actions are inline with God’s will and if I sincerely want Him to approve of me, how could there be a secret me on the inside other than the imperious self who is not me and who I am educating?)

  16. HSH Dec 24, 2014 12:33 pm 16

    1- I have been trying for a while to review my daily pursuance of spiritual matters in bed just before sleep (which Ostad Elahi recommends).

    2- I tried not to note what seemed to be good in my daily behaviors but instead to be hard on myself regarding what I had done badly or in an unacceptable way.

  17. ia Dec 24, 2014 3:14 pm 17

    I feel that to be somewhat successful, or to be on the right track working in the right direction, I need to have a certain amount of “presence” or mindfulness on the practice I am working on and on the Source in particular.

    This inner connectedness then can be for the form and not be heartfelt or heart-seeking or it can be a brief moment and a committed inner state to the day ahead of me or in course. I feel if it is evening, it is already pretty much too late, unless I still have an activity involving other people in the evening.

    So the “quality” of my practice first of all depends on that presence of mind and heart even if it is only once and brief. If it is more often and heartfelt that is better too. But if my heart and mind do not connect, then whatever practice will follow or is in course will be of poor quality. An exception, however, is if an event takes place that jolts me into an emotional state is followed by reflection, and even if it is tortuous and not straight away in line with Divine ethical principles, then it can still be successful.

    An example:

    During a period when I was trying to put myself in the shoes of someone else, even just once a day, something big happened to me. (At least it was big in the emotional impact and certain long-lasting consequences).

    It was the end of the day and I had completely forgotten about my practice. Or almost forgotten about it. It is not that clear for me any more, I might have been playing with the thought in my mind not understanding how to apply it or understand it.

    I was very very tired and at the end of my rope. I felt humiliated and exhausted and unlucky and generally out of sorts with everything in my life. As a teacher at a school with a very difficult student body of underprivileged children and families with many social and economic problems, I had spent the day trying to survive hour after hour of battle in the class room, in the hallways etc. Being able to teach in itself for only a couple of minutes being a miracle. In this turmoil, I had forgotten to ask the pupils to put the chairs on the tables so the cleaning crew could do their job. I had forgotten all week and basically ever since I arrived at the job three weeks prior. I was considering putting the 28 chairs up myself, and thought about the practice of putting myself in the other person’s shoes. But I much stronger thought entered my mind:

    If I am supposed to put myself in the other person’s shoes, shouldn’t the cleaning lady put herself in MY shoes? With this unhappy thought in mind and being at the brink of tears from nervous exhaustion, the cleaning lady appeared at the door and quite literally spoke to me as if from a position of authority. she told me she could not do her job because I was not having the students put the chairs on the tables, and why were there little pieces of paper on the floor, and how could I let students behave like that and basically she was calling into question my skill as a teacher. She was giving me advice on how to teach and I almost broke out in tears. I am experienced teacher, I am a gifted teacher, I should be rewarded and getting great positions and here I am being spoken down to by a cleaning lady. I closed the door and put all the chairs on the tables and picked up all the pieces of paper on the floor like a punished child.

    Later, I spoke to a colleague about this and the whole thing snowballed into a much bigger thing about rivalry and envy at work but also about competence etc. I felt I was on that scary path again to a poisonous work environment. Something I just couldn’t handle. And had no resources left in me to deal with.

    I can’t remember when I realized my mistake. I think I spoke to the Source immediately as I was putting the chairs on the table, but I felt no warmth or support or encouragement. But I did connect in form. Here, I think this was invaluable.

    Everything blew away later and I was able to set up relations with various people according to my own standards.

    I am still somewhat scared of what may still happen and how long I can hold out on this dry spell, but I know that it is all a scenario for me to become stronger and all He is asking me is to rely on Him and try and put His lessons into practice.

    This was one big lesson, and later I found confirmation: one must always put oneself in the other’s shoes and not worry about anything except God’s satisfaction. Our ability to help others even just a little, is what is important, not my own feeling of being given a much harder job and not even being paid much more than the cleaning lady…

    There are so many thoughts that can pop up that are perfectly reasonable and that can justify unethical behavior. Or disregard of oue’s practice.

    To conclude, this long post, I’d say, that THE criteria above all others is the connection. To maintain as long and as often as possible. If this is the case and the practice was carried out it deserves a high mark.

  18. Pourya Dec 24, 2014 9:49 pm 18

    1- I evaluate the quality of my practice based on the level of attention to my chosen practical exercises during the day. This is hard to measure and it is subjective. The goal is to rate myself sincerely and if performed out of chance or with no attention I would rate myself between [0-5]. High level of attention [5-10] means that I remembered my practice and I put some effort to overcome the internal resistance (i.e. my imperious self).

    2- For example, if I chose to be helpful to others at least once a day, I would rate myself in mid-high only if I remembered my exercise and if I have done the act of kindness after I paid attention to the context of my practice for the day. If done out of chance or with no attention I would still give a “yes” in success but as far as the quality is concerned I would rate in mid low or zero depending on the situation.

    In the end, I am trying to get to a point where I can formulate the quality of my practice in a very concise format. It should be possible for at least a couple of practices. This should remove any “buts” and “ifs” when I mark myself at night.

  19. SHM Dec 25, 2014 5:45 am 19

    First of all I try to analyze my intention. I also try to analyze my effort ,for example did I try hard or did I just want to do something to tick success at the end of the day. Sometimes I am very strict with myself and I choose fail instead of pass because I am not satisfied with the feelings I have.I mean I cannot feel good about my practice.

    For example my practice was not to ask for anything in my prayers once a day.So most of the days I prayed three times a day and in two of them I asked for everything and just in one of them I tried not to ask for anything.In this case although I ticked pass but I did not give myself more than 6 or 5.

  20. B Dec 25, 2014 12:39 pm 20

    1) How much I was aware or had attention do the exercise during the day.

    2) For example I have an exercise “to make my parents happy”. At the end of the day I might evaluate a success because when thinking about it (evaluating the day) I did make one of my parents happy, but on the other hand I had totally forgotten about the exercise during the day. This is an example of “Success” but quality zero. The other way around can also happen. For example I have a lot of attention and focus on the exercise during the day and think about it, but one of my parents manages to irritate me and I for example show a reaction….. So at night I evaluate a “Failure” because I obviously did not make them happy but a high quality because I had a lot of focus or attention on the exercise during the day.

    Generally after the new explanation I feel that I understand the difference between failure/success and quality.

  21. Homayoun Dec 26, 2014 8:55 pm 21

    Selecting practical exercises that are:
    A) Objective (vs. Subjective)
    B) Clearly Measurable
    C) Progressive over time (once a day then twice, ect and expect that you might go up but then come back down; ups and downs are normal; the key is to never give-up)
    D) Reasonable (can’t change yourself over-night, can’t change your environment, and others at all unless divine interaction or a miracle takes place (which happens all the time)
    E) challenging (but doable)
    are the initial steps in selecting an in-vivo exercise.

    Now that you are ready to do the practical work, then beg for HIS help (every second, minute, hour, and day):
    1. Because without HIS help you will not carry it out
    2. The level of your plea for HIS help determines your success or failure
    3. Be Passionate about the practical work & Be Passionate with HIM.

    1. pzlz Dec 29, 2014 3:28 am 21.1

      I think you have a point here! I am all about abbreviations so allow me to name your five steps CCROP to always be mindful about it when I am selecting a practical exercise! I also would like to reference Medicine of the Soul page 36 where it says “… the practice of a divine ethical principle must fulfill certain conditions in order to have a positive effect…” they must be performed on a Repeated basis, must be absorbed in its Entirety, must be Varied, must be contextually Appropriate, and must be practiced in a Balanced manner. I have abbreviated them to BRAVE!

      BTW, the passion you mentioned is such a key factor. I don’t know why we lose our passion but I remember reading in Gary Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Masters where he asked a physicist how he structures his classes and he responded: I teach every lesson as if it’s the first time, with the same enthusiasm.

      So let’s be BRAVE, CCROP it, and do it with enthusiasm!

  22. Flamenco Dec 28, 2014 6:23 am 22

    These are my criteria and examples for assessing the quality of my practice:

    a)Effort: How much effort have I put into my practice? For example if I was driving did I pull over when possible to do my prayer or if I was at work did I stop when I had the chance to have a high quality prayer or didn’t I even though I had the chance.

    b)Preparation: What did I do to prepare myself to have a high quality prayer? For example did I listen to inspiring music or try to focus for few minutes prior to my prayer so that I could have a higher quality prayer or did I not care enough?

    c)Focusing: Did I try hard enough not to lose my focus during prayer? For example did I try to limit un-focused moments to a minimum or did I not try hard enough

  23. Coco Dec 28, 2014 5:43 pm 23

    In attempting to rate my practical results I have found that when it is difficult, it is because the practical exercise I have set for myself is not well constructed. It is usually unclear or not measurable. Sometimes I find that the problem is that it is in vitro and not in vivo. In those cases I either go back and reconstruct the practical exercise or choose a new one.

    Once I have created a “valid” practical exercise, I then determine:
    – Have I performed my practical exercise or not i.e. did I help someone in some way, yes or no. If I cannot determine this, my exercise is not measurable and must be reconstructed.

    – Then I rate my intention, what was the quality of my intention? Did I do it with God’s satisfaction in mind?
    – Or did I have the intention to do it but could not find an opportunity during the day
    to do so and
    – if so, I try to reflect on why did God choose not to give me that opportunity? Maybe
    I wasn’t sincere. I try to reflect on what a grace these opportunities to learn
    spiritual lessons are.

    – Some qualifiers in the assessment are relative to the specific exercise and generally my level of sincerity will be critical in identifying these criteria.

    – And what did I learn from this success or failure?

    In truth I find that the evaluation of my results is not only a practical exercise in and of itself but is the most difficult practical exercise to get myself to do and is the one I fail at the most.

  24. NPN Dec 29, 2014 4:12 am 24

    I really appreciate the work that went into setting up this site. It’s a very helpful tool. However, rating myself on the quality of my work was not easy which indicates to me that I need to pick exercises with clear system of rating.

  25. DLA Dec 31, 2014 12:51 am 25

    I try to break down and identify what I feel would be the cornerstone or building blocks of my practice and my progression. By reducing the factor to the lowest denominator (simplification) and starting at that point. Not to make it easier but to hopefully build a stronger foundation or footer to further build upon.

    In previous personal experiences I found that I would often over think or try and apply criteria that would prove to be challenging but with high rewards. Looking back I would realize that, for me, I would overlook some founding principles which were actually the mortar needed to bind the foundations together.

  26. Sepideh Jan 01, 2015 2:42 pm 26

    The terms quality and quantity seem reversed for the overall practice. I do understand that we are assessing the quality of our practice. But the quantifying aspect is in the part where we choose numbers, not in the Success and Failure part. When deciding whether you succeeded or failed you are not quantifying something.

    1. B Jan 02, 2015 1:06 pm 26.1

      Well, when you rate the quality of your practice (from 0-10) it is a “quantitative variable”, and sometimes a binary-variable is called a “qualitative variable”. But here “quantitative” is referring to you being able to “measure” your success/failure (easily).
      Qualitative assessment (from 0-10) is of course a “quantitative variable”, but the point is that it is difficult for us to measure them (therefore the name qualitative).

      Well I guess the whole point is to “quantify our qualitative effort”.

      1. lucky Jan 02, 2015 8:12 pm 26.1.1

        Thank you B, that made sense to me and I think I am on the same track here.
        Here is how I quantify the qualification:
        First I had to establish my own quality benchmark grade; I could choose that benchmark to have a grade 2, 3, 5 etc. (that is up to each person to choose; and I chose 3). So lets say in my case my qualification criteria include:
        a. performed as a duty
        b. prepared myself better prior to performing (checked my intention, checked my humility )
        c. performed with heightened concentration -(For example in a prayer practice, how long did I manage to maintain my concentration)
        d. Reminded myself on how important and serious it is for me to do this.
        Let’s say my normal/regular practice is generally (a). I set that as my benchmark and I receive the benchmark grade of 3 for the quality. Now if I included b, c and d; I add 1 point for each for a total of 3 more points and receive a 6. If the intensity of each of those b,c and d is greater I add an extra point for each for a total grade of 9.

      2. B Jan 03, 2015 1:46 pm 26.1.2

        No, thank you lucky, that is a very organized and systematic scheme you have come up with. Because frankly until now, when I had to choose a number for the quality of my practice it was based on a very quick superficial assessment of my “feelings”, usually only taking one factor into consideration.
        I think your scheme has a potential to be become even more rigorous, and I will write back if I get any ideas.

  27. Mimi Jan 01, 2015 4:18 pm 27

    I assessed the rating of my practice based on the time and effort I put into my daily practices. I found that focus and concentration during my practice were difficult. Though I would often succeed it would require that I make multiple attempts.

    As I progressed I discovered that listening to spiritual music during my practice helped me concentrate and focus. Like iron fillings being pulled towards a magnet.

  28. Ocean Jan 02, 2015 3:38 am 28

    I think the set up of the evaluation is just a guideline and not a definite tool. Evaluations of our ethical practice is very personal and as it has been addressed in great details by others it depends on many factors.
    Honesty is the key.

  29. ElNiño Jan 02, 2015 5:50 am 29

    I completed the module “Toward an in vivo practice”. My criteria to rate the quality of my practice were as follows by the end of the cycle. I should note that initially, I did not think of item 2 and item 4 didn’t become apparent until a ways into the cycle, when I figured out that cowardice may have had to do with some of my failings.

    1. Whether the situation presented itself to practice my exercise. In many instances, it did not.
    2. What I could have done, starting at the level of my intention, to allow situations to arise on a daily basis for me.
    3. Whether I pre-primed myself before the situation arose so that I could get a “jump” on my imperious self. E.g. In order to combat my outburst of anger in a very specific situation – while driving, riding or walking in the street and in response to other motorists – I would make a mental check-in before getting in my car, on my bike or stepping outside.
    4. Whether when the situation presented itself, I acted fearfully (with cowardice) when faced with the very imbalanced character trait I was trying to correct or if I plowed forward courageously, with faith in the fact that this would ultimately be an educational experience in spite of my fear of failing, getting an unpleasant response from my interlocutor/counterpart, etc.

    What I know for certain now is that it pays off to be systematic, as in trying to link outcome B to action A on my part in a specific situation on a given day. This was predicated on having the motivation to review the day’s work before bed and doing so carefully, trying to keep my emotional responses at bay as I relived the situation I had experienced earlier in the day. Emotions clouded my judgement and were a hindrance in achieving some modicum of objectivity.

  30. E Jan 04, 2015 10:10 am 30

    I did not have any specific criteria; I generally rated myself according to my feeling. I was generally very hard on myself; eg. if I was successful in remebering and performing my prayers, I still gave myself a 6 because I never think I was fully successful.
    Also when I did not succeed in a few consecutive days then I became discouraged and I was more hard on myself, not being satisfied with my performance.
    I find the comments very useful for future practices.

  31. Toronto Jan 05, 2015 4:08 am 31

    I love the fact that we can mark ourselves on quality of our practice! this is an important thing for me and helps me practice with more sincerity!!

  32. S Jan 05, 2015 8:29 pm 32

    1)When rating the quality of my practice, whether good or bad I consider what I could have done differently to improve, as I know there is always room for improvement. I try to be genuine with myself and not let my ego take the best of me when evaluating my actions.

    2)I tend to be a selfish person, so when I do act in this way and recognize it, I always try and think of what I could have changed so that a situation would be in favor of others rather than myself.

  33. Naghme Jan 06, 2015 8:01 am 33

    Quality is subjective, it is a matter of personal opinion and what constitutes an acceptable level of quality will vary from one individual to another
    Not all aspects of our ethical and spiritual practice are tangible as well the degree of attention or effort or intention or involvement can’t be measure through indicators,becuz Quality is always evolving, it is very difficult for me to rate the quality of my practice by grading !

    1. B Jan 08, 2015 12:19 am 33.1

      In reality quality is also objective. And the correct “quality” is what He (or the divine system) calculates. So we can try to determine criteria that He considers important (e.g. intention), and then try to calculate and come close to the real calculations made in the other world.

  34. Laura Jan 07, 2015 1:49 am 34

    The way I have decided to score myself is to simplify it. For example for my prayer practice this is how I mark the quality:
    5 points: If I have done my prayer at some random time during the day.
    6 points: If I do it at the specific time of day and for the minimum duration, both of which I chose during the planning phase
    8 points: This is as for 6, but in addition having a higher than normal concentration and/or heartfelt attention.

    1. David Jan 13, 2015 5:46 am 34.1

      I have a similar one, where all I check is if I forced myself to have the discipline to be attentive to the One at given times. To complement that practice, I have another task for prayer which has different criteria.

      For the first one, it is similar to your’s Laura, I have three attention times marked:
      07:30 – 12:00 – 20:00

      For each exact time I get 3 points, and two points if I do it before the next attention time. I give one bonus + 1 for writing my score to motivate me to log in and log my score, even if I have failed the practice (to Coco’s point). This point system is the strongest motivator for me, since it always rewards action.

      1. B Jan 17, 2015 3:25 pm 34.1.1

        Thank you!

  35. Pooyan Jan 10, 2015 4:34 am 35

    When I rate myself I use a very simple Yes or No mechanism, which I believe is more effective than a qualitative rating mechanism. The main reason is because I am a good liar, especially to myself, therefore the more options I have, e.g. 0 to 10 rating system, the more likely I will lie to myself or manipulate my assessment, of course unintentionally. Generally speaking, the more options we have the less likely we can make a good and guilt-free decision. Thats why some companies such as Apple, these days, give you a few simple options such as black or white iPhone rather than variety of wonderful colours that could initially attract you more. Marketing experts believe, in some cases, even giving more options makes customers totally give up and decide not to buy a particular product because of the potential confusion or the fear of going though a complex decision making process.
    I use a Yes or No mechanism even when I have a practical exercise such as, helping others, the accomplishment of which can be somewhat dependent on external factors and opportunities. Mainly because, I believe if I am supposed to help someone but I didn’t find any opportunity to do so, I didn’t try hard to look for it, or I didn’t have enough smart eyes and mind to seize the opportunity. Therefore in both cases it is my problem because I should have trained my “eyes” to see differently or I must be creative enough to make opportunities happen. However, I have given myself an alternative exercise solution for the times when I tried hard but for some reason I couldn’t find an opportunity. My alternative should be something that is significantly harder than my main practical exercise. Let’s say, I have two exercises. One is “helping others” and the other is to read 5 pages of a spiritual book and suppose that from the beginning to the end of my day I didn’t find any opportunity to help others, even though I worked hard for it, then I will do my alternative exercise which is reading 15 extra pages of the same book that I regularly set to read 5 pages of it (15+5=20). Now, if I read 15 extra pages I will give myself a Yes. This is a win-win game and since my alternative is harder than my initial practical exercise (reading 15 extra pages v.s. helping others), I won’t alternate it due to laziness!

  36. iliashid Jan 14, 2015 8:32 am 36

    Hi,
    Something which I found during my efforts to assess my practice quality, Is that, those practices which depend on others( society,family,friends and etc.) ,are so difficult because (attention to others’ rights) as a practice is not clear enough to detect until I find some measurement parameter for it like attention to my daughter’s” education” rather than only “attention to my daughter”.

  37. Mz Jan 15, 2015 12:02 am 37

    This article made me rethink how I evaluate the quality of my practice. Till now I made subjective estimations based on my feelings and my contentment with doing my practice. Since I never had the feeling that I gave my best or did my practice 100% as I should, I never gave myself 10 points. I always thought 10 meant perfect so the best mark I gave myself was 8. But somewhere down the road it was discouraging and frustrating to see my progress curve.

    After reading this article I thought that I needed some clear criteria to assess the quality of my practice. So I took some time to write down criteria for each practical exercise. I tried to define a scalable measurement in order to quantify them more objectively. Here is an example:

    Prayer/Attention:
    – Duration; at least 10 minutes: if Yes I give myself 1 otherwise 0
    – Concentration; whenever I loose concentration start all over again: if Yes I give myself 1 otherwise 0
    – Meditating on the meaning of the words I say; at least on 3 words: if Yes I give myself 1 otherwise 0
    – As scheduled; for instance in the morning before starting the daily activities: if Yes I give myself 1 otherwise 0

    At the end I sum up the results and multiply it by 2.5 (to be able to assess it on a scale of 0 to 10). If necessary I round the result up or down based on the effort I put into the practice.

    It’s been now 3 weeks since I started with this simple change in assessing the quality of my practice and I have to admit that the results have been significantly better. I gave myself 10 points several times without having a bad conscience and this has been very encouraging and motivating.

    1. NG Jan 17, 2015 11:10 pm 37.1

      Thanks! Very useful!

  38. R. Jan 16, 2015 9:16 pm 38

    The rating was confusing to me at the beginning but I am starting to understand it better after this questionnaire and reading others’ comments.
    1) When I pay attention to the practice that I am doing, not just as a habit or absent- mindedly, I give myself a maximum of 7 points.
    2)When I put in effort but failed, I go with the failure points, based on how I did act.
    3) When I do my practice but without any attention, I go with success and 0.
    4) Recently when I was aiming too high I tried to simplify my practice so that at least I wouldn’t fail all the time and give up.
    For instance I am a good liar, specially if it helps to boost my ego. For years I was denying it. Legitimizing it by telling myself that honesty doesn’t mean to be stupid. I think it is happening when I rate myself too, although very unconsciously. In the beginning I started with a higher expectation and I was constantly failing. Now I changed my practice to be attentive and see it also stand up to it at least once a day. Nevertheless I don’t rate my self more than 5.
    In the end I just go with my feelings to grade myself. I gather this might not be the right move as earlier comments above mentioned. Perhaps making it more systematic is the way to continue.

  39. H Jan 17, 2015 1:49 am 39

    1. My ‘quality of practice’ assessment criteria ?
    a) using my conscience with regard to my intention
    b) trying to be objective
    despite these two criteria the assessment was not as good as I wished it because I did not allow enough time for proper assessment.

    2. For strengthening my will I chose to do yoga exercises for a min. of 5 minutes, the assessment criteria worked Ok and proved to be determining but another exercise on my thoughts and behaviour was subjective and insufficient.

  40. V Jan 18, 2015 5:36 am 40

    Most of the time I copy my practical exercise on a board or piece of paper so that I’m reminded of it everyday. However, despite my enthusiasm when approaching my practical exercises and the positive intention I set, I often do not evaluate myself at night. Consequently, I’m left to question my progress, I become confused and disheartened, sometimes losing that enthusiasm and motivation I started with. However, after taking this survey and reading everybody’s feedback I am going to apply a different approach and begin systematically grading myself after each day to have a more quantitative and serious approach to my practice.

  41. Roman summer Jan 18, 2015 1:46 pm 41

    When trying to assess the quality of my practice I use different assessment factors for each exercise.

    I noticed that the way you can rate your success is very different from one exercise to another. So I suggest each exercise should have its own rating system. Like, for example, if I have to exercise 1 hour every day, then I should rate if I prioritized, if I remembered I was doing it for God and not to become more fit and so on… but all those criteria do not apply to another exercise about anger.

    In that case, I cannot prioritize because I need to act only when something makes me angry. On the other hand, to remember I am doing it for God it is the only way to succeed, so I cannot rate that because it should happen by default. So this shows rating criteria that are good for one exercise are wrong for another.

    Considering this, I decided that it was better to incorporate in each exercise its rating system.

    When I write my exercise I also write the rating system I will use for it.

    For example, this is my exercise on anger: I will not get angry and I will stop my anger when I feel it is coming out, before anyone can see it. If I fail on every occasion, I will get zero. If I succeeded on at least half of the occasions I had to get angry, then I will get 5 and then from 5 upwards, accordingly to how many times I succeeded.

    But I am only taking the points if I write down the occasion I had to fail or succeed.

    Like, for instance, today I did not get angry in traffic, but I did with that lady that jumped in front of me in the queue at the supermarket and so on… If I don’t write down the occasions I had to practice, I get zero points. This is very helpful because It gives me the tool of statistics. At the end of the week, I know if I get more angry in traffic or with the kids or at the office…so I can focus more on those occasions during the next week.

    For every exercise, I also introduce ‘the backup exercise’

    What if I did not have any chance to get angry during the day? Then, in order to get 5, I need to read a word on anger from my spiritual books.
    The ‘backup exercise’ must be something I can do at the very last minute of the day, before I assess my practice.

    I noticed the ‘backup exercise’ works for every exercise, so I always incorporate it. For example, in case I had to exercise for an hour a day, if I did not have time to do it and I am really tired at the end of the day, I can get 5 points if I do 10 minutes of prayer.

    This is a good way to trick my imperious self because, at the end of the day, even if you failed you are still doing something good for your progress.

    But it can also be tricky because you might be tempted to say: I have no time for that, so I will do the backup exercise later tonight. In order to avoid that, I introduced the rule that, for the voluntary exercises, the ‘backup’ cannot be done for more than 3 days in a row.

    Voluntary means an exercise on something that you have to voluntary make as opposed to an occasional exercise, that you might or might not have the occasion to do.

    On the contrary, in the case of occasional exercises, I noticed it is a good sign to have many following days with the ‘backup exercise’ because it means occasions to practice were less and less, so maybe you worked enough on that and you are not anymore a person that gets angry easily. But this is different from one exercise to another, so to sum up, I think:
    Each exercise should have its own rating system

    Each exercise should incorporate a way to produce statistics on the practice, that can be used to improve the practice in the following days

    Each exercise should have its own ‘backup exercise’ (which, in turn, should have its own rating rules)

    One thing I never included in the rating is my intention, because do not think it is possible to be objective about it and also it is not very useful for the improvement of my practice to rate it.

    In general, the rating criteria choice should be based on what allows us to improve, because this is the point.

  42. Lb1884 Jan 21, 2015 12:20 am 42

    1. I often try to find exercises that fight my prominent weaknesses such as the lack of exercise, laziness, concentration etc. The parameter for a positive result would simply be to determine whether I was successful in fulfilling the task or not. I can´t really think of a trick as I am struggling on a daily basis, but the more I observe, take notes, or reflect on my success, the more I get motivated to reach my goal.

    2. I tried to improve my impatience by trying to let somebody go first (on the train etc.) at least once a day. It´s just a small task, but easy to fulfill and it gives me motivation to work on other duties. On the other side I try to exercise at least four times a week. I almost always fail and tell myself that I can change next week and reach that goal. Instead of questioning if my ego dictates me that I have to reach that I keep on believing that I could manage, but in fact I should rather be realistic and give myself the chance to work on all my practical tasks.

  43. M Jan 21, 2015 5:51 am 43

    Very useful. Thank you

  44. ms Jan 21, 2015 9:05 am 44

    This article was really usefull for me ,because it helped me to think again about how I rate my practice,
    under which factor :

    1- attention to my practice during the day .

    2- intention ( his satisfaction ).

    3-Effort .

  45. particle Jan 24, 2015 3:52 am 45

    I noticed that I liked the question/answers with regards to in vivo practice as well as Connecting with the Divine. These were very helpful and I wish there was nice way to make them into a short PDF file for printing. However, I like the idea of pen and paper rather than the computer for assessing myself. With the computer, one can do much better mathematical analysis over the years, plot charts and perhaps do a probabilistic estimate of the trends. This may not sound good, but somehow I see the computer so much in a day that I want a break and love books and paper instead. I am not that old yet, but I guess the younger generation will assess themselves digitally. This said, I think the site is very useful in shaping the traditional pen and paper method as well (which I need to keep working at).

  46. mahnaz Mar 03, 2015 6:30 am 46

    MB
    The practical exercises are very helpful and interesting. I have to be focused all day because of them which is very good .thank you

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