(In case you missed them, here are Part One, Part Two, and Part Three)
I’ve really enjoyed trying out a few new recipes in this lockdown time. I know that I would never come up with these wonderful meal ideas on my own. Recipes help me to choose and prepare the right ingredients which can then be combined into something truly remarkable.
As I’ve explored cooking a little more, I’ve learned that, while specific details may change, all meals consist of essentially the same ingredient—protein, starch, vegetables, and seasoning. Of course, I could always decide to leave certain foods out, and to cook up a meal on my own without using a recipe, but I know that when I do that the meal is never as flavourful or nutritious as when I follow guidelines from someone who understands food.
I believe a similar truth applies to the realm of spiritual practice. Over the last few weeks we’ve explored how to create a healthy and transforming spiritual practice. We’ve explored how transformation happens, and how the best spiritual practices facilitate this process intentionally. And last week the labyrinth illustrated these principles. We can choose to ignore these guidelines, but embracing these ancient, tried-and-tested spiritual practices will deepen our spirituality and make it more life-giving and transforming than anything we could cobble together alone.
Which is why it might be helpful to explore some of the specific ingredients that can ensure that the four-part framework for spiritual practice has the desired effect in our lives.
As we prepare ourselves for our practice, we may want to consider the following actions and attitudes:
- A gathering prayer or ritual can remind us that we are never alone. We intentionally acknowledge our connectedness with the universe, and we can mentally gather a circle of counsellors around us, including anyone—living or dead, fictional or actual—from whom we would seek wisdom.
- A moment to invoke the Divine (however we may understand it) can also help to prepare us for our practice.
In the listening and reflecting phase we may choose the following practices and attitudes:
- Prayers or rituals of confession (acknowledging where we have brought hurt to ourselves, others, or the earth) or lament (grieving any painful or difficult experiences we are dealing with) can help us release, or lighten, anything weighing us down.
- Sacred texts, nature, or any good, true, and beautiful person or object can open our hearts and minds to new insights and guidance.
- Expressing awe, wonder, amazement, and curiosity can also allow the wisdom of the universe to speak to our souls.
The responding phase can be significantly enriched by the following practices:
- Giving thanks for new insights or goodness, or for subtle shifts within us—a deeper sense of peace, calm, or confidence—can help us not to lose the value we’ve received.
- As we seek to align our lives with any new wisdom or direction we can offer prayers for ourselves, or we can pray for loved ones and situations that concern us.
Finally, the following practices can help us to integrate our spirituality into our lives:
- Never underestimate the power of committing to new actions or attitudes that embody any new insights we’ve received.
- Journalling captures the gifts and insights of our practice and ensures that we can reflect more later.
CHOOSING TO FEED OUR SOULS WELL
These ‘ingredients’ are not new—they’re found in almost every spiritual path and tradition. And there are many other ingredients that could be added to the list. But these basics offer nourishing food for our souls.
- How do you relate to these practices?
- What would it mean to shape your own spiritual practice more intentionally around these ancient guidelines?
- What other ideas can you add to help us all deepen our spirituality together?
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!
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