I have always admired perfectly disciplined people who have a daily spiritual practice. You know, those people who can wake up before sunrise, reflect, pray, read, journal, contemplate and start their day refreshed and inspired.
This is what my morning spiritual practice usually looked like: Whenever I would be lucky enough to wake up early (and I am NOT a morning person), I would be too sleepy, grumpy and hungry to concentrate on what I was doing or even thinking. My body was interchangeably screaming: "I need sleep", "food", "tired", "hungry", "stop"... After unsuccessful attempt to stay conscious, I would usually get some food or coffee or both, return to my practice and be completely distracted by everything: my own thoughts, noises, cars starting, birds singing... etc. I would try to continue while my frustration level grew and then it would be time to go to work. Often I gave up before even trying.
As you can see, the above approach didn't work so well.
I must admit, on occasion, I would reach a state of "enlightenment" and oneness where I would receive insights or simply feel the God's Divine presence. Most of the time, I lacked the discipline to have the kind of spiritual practice I had defined for myself.
I used to think that having a spiritual practice in one's life meant putting out a great amount of effort, discipline, devotion, sacrifice and self-denial. As the time passed, I have come to the realization that it has a totally different meaning for me now. A Spiritual Practice is something that tends to and nourishes our spirit. That simple. It could be any of the following things: reading the Bible and praying, writing in a journal ... or sitting quietly and reflecting, staying present to the current moment, feeling the connection with nature, taking a walk, breathing consciously, holding a baby, giving full attention to someone or something. reading and inspiring story, learning something new, creating a work of art, playing or listening to music, singing, reciting poetry, painting, losing all track of time doing something you love, or (even!) doing the dishes, cooking, cleaning or doing some housework.... the list is endless... What transforms each of these seemingly mundane moments is our state of being. When we bring conscious, loving presence to the moment - we transform it and it provides nourishment for us, as well as those around us. It can be done any time, any place.
SO, no more guilty avoidance of the spiritual practice for me. Instead, I look forward to it with joy. At the end of it I am always transformed...
Nowadays, my practice involves a quiet time, writing in my journal, a time of reflection, setting intentions for my day or week and life in general, some reading and learning. Usually, it is followed by a walk in nature. I say my prayers, ask questions, dream, learn, get new insights, write them down, draw or paint ... and I am fulfilled. And, no, I don't wake up at the crack of the dawn to do it - I gave up on that form of torture altogether... I usually do it in the first half of my day, after I have tended to my children's needs and have some time available just for me.
Sometimes I stumble and forget to stay present, aware and conscious and allow stress, guilt, anger, despair or simple laziness to distract me from this special time. However, more and more I learn to have compassion towards myself, when I slip up and allow myself to get right back and continue with the practice of nourishing my spirit. Without guilt or punishment - imperfect as it is.
That is my wish for you - to find something that works for you, that brings you joy, feeds your spirit and start your imPerfect Spiritual Practice today.