Spiritual practice, like any other practice, can be carried out in more or less efficient ways.
I believe that to optimize our benefits it is important to observe where we are at in our journey, what do we feel we really need and what are the effects of the various practices we could choose to carry on.
Once we grow more understanding of these factors we can apply different methods of practice that are more coherent ad efficient to the type of work we want to carry on in that period of our journey.
Just as with physical practice ( which i like to use as an example because its results are more visible and mesurable) we can have trainig routines that dont match our body type or our goals and in this way we may be putting a lot of efforts to see little or no result.
With spiritual practice the issue is more difficult to observe as we are speaking mostly about suble qualities of the personality.
Also for the spiritual practice the set of abilities and qualities that are required is wide and complex and just like in the physical practice there are aspects such as for example strenght and flexibility that are difficult to build at the same time: if we focus only on flexibility we may loose on strenght or explosive power or if we practice just strengh we may become more stiff.
Practicing strengh and flexibility at the same time, even if the growth is slower than practicing only one of them, is more complete and balanced and results in a beneficial effect on the body.
Like those two qualities or skills there are many and this makes the whole aspect of the phisical practice very complex.
The same goes for the spiritual practice. Just to give an example of two opposite qualities we can observe the ability to patiently accept the present condition and the ability to use our will power and act on the situation.
If we practice just accepting, making ourself small, being patient and so on, this may bring to disastrous results as for example we can be in bad, unjust situations and don’t take any action to solve the issue while still blame our lack of acceptation and patience as the reason of our suffering.
On the other side if we strenghten our will to act on reality, being determined to shape the word around us we may end up imposing ourself on others, become controling and we may become unable to listen and take in consideration that we may be mistaken.
These two qualities are to be cultivated in a balanced way and considering also our starting point: for example if we feel that we are not particularily accepting and not particularily decisive we can already start practicing both in a balanced way but if we are strongly unbalanced towards one of the two then we should defenitely start by trying to rebalance our condition by strenthening the opposite.
When these two are growing with balance they can nourish each other and we develop true virtue.
We can learn when to act and when not to act and our actions will be strenghtened by the wisdom of our patient observation.
This simple example shows clearly how even a positive quality can become a limitation and how development is a complex matter.
It is up to us to sincerily look in ourself and understand what is the next step to take.