Ten Spiritual Practices
Spirit is infinite. It is not bound by any age, location, not even by gravity. Spirit lifts up, releases, frees and comforts us collectively and individually. It is often our only refuge and friend. It is a great paradox that the Infinite is found in small steps that can be taken at home, the office and on the road.
Not all of the following are "actions" in the traditional sense; some are subtle shifts of perspective that can ultimately be more powerful than any action we might take:
- Resolving to bring Spirit nearer and dearer to us is the first step. Motives lead to action.
- Don't be afraid of good. Good is natural, and though it may not seem as interesting as the convoluted byways of dramatic horror, good is enriching and normal.
- Make a spiritual text your own. Pick one that speaks to you: The Psalms of the Bible; The Bhagavad-Gita; a poem by the Persian mystic Rumi, or for those who would like an easier start, perhaps the works of Khalil Gibran. Commit to reading ten minutes each and every day. The effect is both immediate and cumulative, and is unique to you alone.
- Watch your thoughts. Listen and discern. We hear so much of our own thought that often the Voice of Spirit is distant and muffled. Listen to good ideas, ideas that benefit you and others, and elevate and nurture them. Look for the profitable and hopeful.
- Give up an opinion. Heavily weighted opinions wear us down. Simply surrender one, let it go. You alone know which of your opinions, your prejudices, is a burden to you and the world. Let that one go. And then, another.
- Take a day off. Once a week, take a day for not shopping, not watching television, and not participating in business. A Sabbath day is not a useless, outdated, boring concept but a day for refreshment, for walking, writing letters, arranging flowers, reading, cooking a meal that is better than usual, loving yourself and all the life around you. The world will survive without you and you will be the richer for the day.
- Breathe deeply. Practice breathing. It's free. Dr. Weil has three simple breathing exercises that clear the mind and help to calm stress and create wholeness.
- Adopt a pet. Yes, they can be a nuisance, but they can also add years to your life, provide solace, and give a focus outside the self. Even fish in a tank bring serenity and comfort. If a pet is not possible, bring plants into your home and take an interest in them, how they grow, what they need to thrive.
- Walk. The view from the sidewalk, the park trail, the nature path is not the view from behind the wheel of a car. Look up and out and see what is around you with a 30-minute daily walk, no matter the weather. Remember the aphorism: there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
- Do something for someone else each day of your life. Count it a poor day when you have not volunteered, gone to a community, or church, or faith meeting, or taken cookies to a neighbor. We find our own spirituality in our connection to others' good. There is always something we can do for another and our motives lead us to action, a spiritual life, and a connection.
By Lynne Bundesen