Spiritual practice requires practice. This practice takes on a different shape and form for all of us. Hatha yoga, sitting meditation, walking, eating mindfully, painting, traveling to unexplored places, running, knitting, and listening to music, for example.
No matter what your practice is, you must practice. The potent practice of mindfulness can occur in any moment; it only requires plain attention. It asks us to drop plans, projections, ideas and simply witness, perceive, and breathe.
Spiritual practice is more than the sum of its yoga, meditation, prayer, chanting, bowing, confessing or kneeling. It is developing greater mindfulness in every activity. It is developing mindfulness in every moment.
Although a daily sitting meditation habit is essential, ultimately, “spiritual practice” involves becoming mindful and equanimous when sitting alone in silence as well as in partnerships and groups.
Ultimately, everything is done with total presence and spacious awareness.
Presence is the oil that keeps our engines running. Truly, mere moments of meditation can make a world of difference on a hectic day. Be gentle with yourself, but continue to cultivate a committed spiritual practice. In time, with practice and perseverance, your life with be transformed.
What’s that you say? You don’t have time? You’re too busy?
I beg to differ.
You have nothing but time, and you choose how to spend that time. Habits can be broken or created.
If spiritual practice (also known as “being present”) enriches our lives and is the essence and the meaning of life — why is it so often inconsistent?
Like the moon, spiritual practice moves through phases. We experience greater and lesser strength and stamina depending on the year, day or moment. Time spent on activities stamped “spiritual” will, of course, vary week to week, month to month and year to year. Deepening your spiritual practice means becoming mindful and compassionate toward yourself during solitary meditation and compassionate toward all beings in all your interactions with them.
The breath is the most important thing. Deep, complete breaths. Full lungs, relaxed bellies. Natural exhalations. Breathing this way centers you, and it’s always good to be centered.
Yoga teaches our bodies to breathe more deeply as a habit. Without even thinking about it, we may begin to sigh or breathe more deeply throughout the day. Breathing with acute awareness of the breath and a pervading sense of gratitude for each inhale and exhale transforms your attitude and sense of well being.