“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
“You don’t need this stuff. You’re already doing it.”
I was listening to another back-logged podcast on my way to teach. This one, an interview with a well-loved author known for her magic combination of feel-good, high-minded woo-woo combined with salt-of-the-earth, nuts and bolts, real life pragmatism. Chakras and crystals coupled with a hefty dose of blue-collar work ethic.
Going down the list of the chosen questions these quippy interviewers always use, they presented her with: “Do you have a prayer you say before you start to work?” I held my breath and readied myself for the lengthy and insightful response that was sure to come. She paused and in a half-laughing, shot back, “No. I don’t.”
She went on to catalog all the ways in which she failed as a traditional spiritual practitioner. No, she didn’t really meditate, either. Nah, she couldn’t really claim to have a regular rhythm of contemplative rigamarole to which she subscribed. No favorite incense or invocations. No deity or mantra or mudra which she employed to get the holy juju rolling on her Next Big Thing.
She did clean her house, though, she mentioned. From top-to-friggin-bottom.
A woman consumed by her task.
She sat at her desk, day after day.
She said no to tantalizing social engagements.
She woke up early.
Did her research.
Said yes to the thing before her.
No to the things which eclipsed the work at hand.
She stepped forward in a daily rhythm to move into the work that was stirring inside her heart. HEr soul. Her very bones.
“When I write,” she encapsulated, “I am at my most clearest. My most steadfast and bright. I am working in alignment with my soul’s purpose. And that, to me, feels like a form of prayer.”
This week, I am feeling the lack of attention to the Rhythm.
The stepping out of sync with myself.
The gradual and compounded effects of not daily attuning my inner dial.
Too much sugar and not enough sleep.
Much busy work and not enough Play.
Time spent online -- craving connection -- that acts as a poor substitute to the higher calling of Connection within.
At times, I am humbled and astounded to see how very formulaic I can be.
Happy Me can be almost boiled down to a recipe.
Combine equal parts movement with stillness. Mix well.
Sprinkle in daily doses of the following…
*large cups of tea & journaling time
*time in the woods or by the sea or frollicking atop a little, sticky mat
*prayer. silence. meditation. Reverie.
*Connection - to others. to self (&Self). to Creative work. to my tribe.
There is a certain type of holy checklist Life has taught me to attend to.
Move my body.
Eat green things.
Do something playful & artful & for-the-sheer-heart-bleeting-Joy-of-it each day.
Listen to people who inspire me.
Put something of Value out into the world that wasn’t there the day before.
Oh yes. And clean the damn bathroom.
Certain practices have presented themselves over time.
And if I can attend to this holy to-do list, I am better for having shown up.
Done the work.
Attended to the daily tasks of Happy Me.
Productive & Of Service Me.
A few days off from these things can feel like indulgence at first.
But, in the end, they spell misery.
A body that is out of sorts.
A mind that is spinning, unsure of where to move next.
Work that feels petty and cramped.
How do you pray?
What are the methods you employ?
What does daily practice look like to you?
What are the things inside your holy recipe book - your sacred, daily ingredients that must be attended to?
Where are you "at your most clear", attuned to your soul's purpose?
What, to you, feels like a form of prayer???
I would love to hear your thoughts. Your romps. Your practices. Your heart.
For I am convinced that spiritual practice takes on many forms, but the aims are much the same.
*My husband can see clearly once he’s taken a bath in some swirling saltwater.
*My mother’s life comes more clearly into focus after she has spent an hour or more at the piano each day.
*My father-in-law takes a Sunday drive out onto the Ortega highway on his motorcycle each week, and comes back ready to begin once more.
*My sister swears by 5 am Zumba.
*My grandfatherly housemate cleans his room and daily strums his guitar.
All of us, daily rubbing the glass, clearing the film - so that we can more clearly See what wants to Emerge...
Just as a pose can call our body into alignment, what are the postures of your day that align you with your Highest?
What calls you back to yourself?
What reminds you of why you’re here?
What fills your well?
You may not need crystals or chakras.
Sticky mats or mala beads.
Perhaps your prayers come with a good pair of running shoes and a wide, open trail.
An hour with a lover.
A surf board.
A sketch pad.
A fabulous playlist and an empty dance floor.
Paintbrushes or pens or pinochle or poems.
What are the small, daily steps you attend to that walk you into the heartbeat of your own, sweet Life?
This last week, I turned 34.
And, admittedly, I’m feeling a bit tired and worn, as happens to me often this time of year.
But, one gift of age, I’m coming to find - is a greater contentment and faith for Where I am Right Now.
No shame or berating for all I have yet to accomplish or some mythic How I’d Like To Be…
Because I trust the tools assembled in my toolkit.
I trust the practices and prayers and postures I have come across - and I know - that if I can re-commit to my own sacred prescription of Good Shit That Lights Me Up - that I am already there.
Right where I need to be.
The tiny, daily steps taken - slowly but surely - Walking me Home.
May your prayers be joyous.
Kinetic. Messy & Grand.
May you be pulled to the people and practices that fill your cup.
May you step in.
May this Journey unfold in sweet & musical ways.
And may you be gifted great patience for the place you inhabit right now.
Your prayers, in whatever form, have rendered this ground sacred.
So much Beauty is ready to sprout forth.
Registration is now open for our online Writing Course which begins this coming Tuesday, March 8th.
Slide on over and have a look
This is a course for anyone looking to step further into the path of Practice.
Therese Fitzmaurice and I have lovingly crafted this 30-day Immersion around the principles of Contemplative Practice.
*Writing as yet another tool to see clearly.
*Writing as a way to move to the other side of it - our fears, our doubts & worries, our dreams, our stories, our work in this Life.
This is a course for anyone who would like to add to their toolbox.
Whether you have a larger project you are working on, or would like to step into a daily rhythm of journaling or putting thoughts and images down on paper.
We have assembled our favorite practices in one place so that you can add them to your own.
For 30 days, you will receive daily prompts to your Inbox.
*Stories and tips and provocations and invitations to move a little bit deeper into your own Interior - to gently & daily dig and to see what wants to Emerge.
*You will be part of a private FB group where you can post your triumphs, challenges, snapshots and epiphanies that transpire for you throughout the course.
*You will be given the opportunity to share your work, if you like and be offered mindful and constructive feedback.
You will step into a container that can hold your dreams. Your inner visions. Your light.
That can peel away the clutter. And bring you to that clear, bright point inside.
The cost is $45 for this 30-day Journey. More info, plus a link to register can be found here.