Monday, September 1, 2014

Creating a Spiritual Practice

Creating a spiritual practice is much like painting a masterpiece. You sit down at the canvas and just pick up
the brush. Where do you begin? First some colors must be gathered, mixed, prepared...then maybe just maybe you feel as if you should start painting with cerulean blue. Just take a dab of paint at first, try not to go too heavy handed in the beginning. Now remember, this will not be done overnight. I have been creating a spiritual practice for years now. Layers of paint have added, colors mixed, a little turpentine comes in handy when something didn't work.

I am writing this as I am reentering society, "reality" as some might call it, after a week on Cape Cod. I spent this week running, attending spiritual group meetings, walking my dogs, daily yoga classes, eating healthy vegan food, and relaxing on the beach. Most of the week was spent in silence, on my own. It was a beautiful week, and by the end, I began to feel like a person again. It was a week I would have never been able to take had I been hired at my "dream job." It felt as if my spiritual practice was supercharged. I already have a daily practice: prayer in the morning, running meditation, and spiritual meetings with others. I also write a daily gratitude list and eat vegan food (a practice of non violence.) But the week on my own, near the ocean and an abundance of yoga classes and running trails, allowed me to, as Emeril would say, kick it up a notch. And today, as I have no full time employment as of yet, I can continue this daily practice. But what happens when I find employment? The hour of yoga and two hours of running, followed by prayer and meditation and an evening walk with the dogs, might not fit so well when working 8 hours and commuting. Plus, I am adding too much to my daily practice at one time. I have noticed, that a habit sticks when I add one at a time, and a doable goal. If I were to say, plan on adding a full yoga practice while increasing mileage and meditation time while simultaneously juggling a life, a relationship, a grown child, animals, a household and family and friends, I might internally combust. Or the new routine would just not stick.

What color can I add to my canvas today? Might it be a gentle stretch in the morning while I am brushing my teeth, and maybe a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing to calm my mind with the goal of continuing to take at least one yoga class per week?  I would love to end each day, feeling just like I did while on my retreat. But life is what happens when we are making plans. And a full immersion in a complicated spiritual practice might not pay the bills or make my partner happy. Just for today I will add a few small pieces from my retreat into my daily practice, see how the color looks on my already paint splattered canvas. I can always add more paint later. And it only takes a small shift to make a change.

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