Working out has long been a regular part of my self-care. Over the years I’ve tried and discarded a number of different routines, but in the end I found one that works for me and so now I enjoy the benefits of consistent exercise. As the fitness gurus say, the best exercise is the one you actually do!
I believe the same is true when it comes to spiritual practice. I’ve tried many different spiritual disciplines, and followed the guidance of many spiritual teachers. But in the end what has worked for me has been bringing what I have learned into a practice that fits me and my life. The best spiritual practice, after all, is the one you actually do.
Over the last few weeks we’ve explored the need for a purpose (here and here) in our spirituality, and we’ve looked at the various different practices and frameworks that we can draw on to develop a transforming and life-giving spiritual discipline (here and here). But all these principles need to be put into some kind of package—some way that shapes how we practice our spirituality. The truth is that we are all different and there is no “one-size-fits-all” spirituality (which is one of the challenges that organised religion struggles to overcome).
What is ‘packaging’ with regard to spirituality? If our purpose explains why we engage in the work of spirituality, and the practices describe what we can do to feed our souls, then the packaging describes how we do our spiritual activities.
If our spiritual practice is to be meaningful, consistent, and transforming then it needs to meet us where we are and engage who we are deeply. This means that it can be very important to consider both what kind of packaging works for us and why we prefer certain ways of doing things:
- For some of us music is an essential feature of our spirituality, while for others silence is more meaningful.
- Some find it most helpful to sit or kneel while others would rather stand or move in some way.
- Some of us need symbols and images to stimulate our sight and others prefer to keep our eyes closed.
- Some of us respond to smells and tastes while others would prefer not to engage those senses.
- And when it comes to how our spirituality guides the contribution we make to our world, the issues that capture our hearts and the ways in which we seek to work in those areas are very different for each of us.
MINDFULLY PACKAGING OUR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
This is why it’s pointless to fight over packaging. And, while it can be helpful to learn from others, it isn’t wise to adopt someone else’s spiritual formula as is. Ultimately the best spiritual practice is the one we mindfully create for ourselves, packaging ancient tools and principles in ways that are meaningful and effective for us.
When we take the time to do this work, our spiritual practice becomes integral to the rhythm of our lives and as natural as eating. And then this spiritual current overflows into deeper connection and compassion, and a deeper need to contribute to bringing a little more beauty, truth, and goodness into the world. As Howard Thurman wisely advised:
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
- How do you package your spirituality?
- What elements make your spiritual practice more meaningful?
- How can you be even more intentional about packaging your spirituality in a way that will ensure you are able to be more consistent in your practice?
Please share stories of what works for you in the comments below. It would be wonderful if we can give each other ideas and encouragement to find a spirituality that fits and that is truly transforming.
Over to you!
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