I was recently asked by someone if I have a daily spiritual practice. The question caught me off guard and I had to stop and think. Do I? If I do, what is it? What inspires me from day to day and brings me a deeper sense of connection to myself, the world as a whole, and everything that exists beyond? In that moment I was stumped and my lack of response left me sad.
In the following weeks I tried to pay attention to anything that might fill my personal need for a spiritual practice. I was surprised to notice that it was actually already present here and there in my life: practicing yoga in my kitchen (not what Iâ€™d consider a â€śspiritualâ€ť environment, but itâ€™s the best flat surface in the house!); taking a walk through the woods on a sunny fall day with my dog, writing in my journal for meaningful self-discovery; singing in the car and connecting with the lyrics; using essential oils for mind-body-spirit and taking a moment to appreciate the many hands that helped cultivate it; reading books that are empowering and help me be my best self; sharing my inspirations with those around me; and the list goes on!
All of these are sporadic events, though. I knew I benefited from each activity, but Iâ€™d desired something that brought me deeper clarity. The same person whoâ€™d asked if I had a spiritual practice also encouraged me to discover what that was so I could build on it daily. Without me calling it out, sheâ€™d hit it on the head. My spiritual craving needed to be fed and I hadnâ€™t been filling the plate.
My first assumption was that I needed to start meditating 20 minutes a dayâ€¦no, scratch thatâ€¦30 minutes a day, or maybe more? And that it should be every day at the same exact time, sitting in lotus position in the corner of my bedroom with absolute quiet and a serenely blank mind. Of course, performance anxiety and frustration came trickling in before Iâ€™d even finished the thought. Iâ€™d played this game before and I found myself giving up before Iâ€™d even started. Thatâ€™s when I turned to Robert Buteraâ€™s Meditation for Your Life.
Iâ€™d been drawn to meditation in the past, but had only been able to strongly connect through it when I was guided in classes by an instructor. I wanted to be able to fly on my own! In my work acquiring this title I knew it was one I would eventually be coming back to. Now that I was ready to really absorb the material I read through the six types of meditation that Butera outlines (Breath, Affirmation and Visualization, Mantra, Devotion/Prayer/Intentionality, Mindfulness, and Contemplative Inquiry), trying to figure out where I fit. I discovered that Iâ€™d been trying to force Mindfulness Meditation, when my preferred style is actually a combination of Visualization and Devotion/Prayer/Intentionality. Just knowing this helped me feel like I already knew how to meditate, I just needed to trust my inner guidance. In fact, Iâ€™d already been practicing some of the things he described. Empowered by understanding of my own style and new tools to act on I feel excitement instead of trepidation over the beginnings of a more dedicated spiritual practice. How about you?
Whatâ€™s your spiritual practice? Have you tried meditation in the past and found it didnâ€™t quite work out? Or are youâ€™re searching for new forms of meditation to enhance an already existing practice?Â For this and more, Iâ€™d recommend picking up a copy of Meditation for Your Life!