Why a Daily Practice?
First off, you may be asking yourself: Why bother with a daily practice? Is it really that important?
On any given day, many of us often find ourselves in the midst of busy-ness, chaos, and confusion. Life seemingly just keeps “coming at us,” right? Before we know it, we’re caught in the throes of life’s seemingly endless tasks, to-do lists, and responsibilities. They seem to arrive from all angles – from loved ones, work associates, four-legged furmily members, community, school and volunteer projects, and on and on.
Ah, so where to go for solace, reassurance, and a place of refuge from the storm? Sometimes the best way to use a refuge is to go to that place well before the day revs up its proverbial engine.
Daily practice is in devotion to you, and in turn your life, and to those with whom you come into contact throughout the day. I invite you to consider it to be a spiritual discipline as well. It’s a golden opportunity to connect with Spirit and to recommit to all that is meaningful.
The Value of Consistency
Consistent, regular focus and attention establishes a soothing, grounding rhythm. It builds and deepens, settles in, and at the same times expands and elevates your consciousness. You’re no longer simply “going along for the ride” in your daily life. You’re in the driver’s seat. How empowering!
A little goes a long way. Keep going. Resist what may be an initial urge or temptation to stop, for no other reason than that it feels strange at first. Anything new will likely feel a little strange. Strange is good – really dreadful, however, not so good! Pay attention to how it feels – in a deeper sense – not just in a superficial, “I’m not accustomed to this” kind of way.
Feel free to experiment, too. Liken it to other ways in which you repeat something and fine-tune it over time. For example, picture it in the way that you would adjust a recipe: What makes for that perfect spaghetti sauce, or that perfect cup of tea?
Just as you would with practicing the guitar, or perfecting your golf swing, it will likely get better and easier over time, too. You will begin to see, feel and enjoy the improvement. It will begin to feel more and more “natural” to you. Before you know it, you’ll likely wonder what it was ever like before you began to engage in a consistent, daily practice.
What are Some Examples?
A daily practice could be: meditation; focusing on your breathing; reading; journaling; or visualization exercises. Or, it may involve being outside or in nature. What’s important is that your daily practice be done with a sense of reverence for the sacredness in it, and your self-honoring commitment to taking some dedicated time, just for you – to exploring what’s meaningful for you in your life, and how you wish to show up in it.
Feeling into It
If you’re just beginning a daily practice, or starting a new variation of one, allow it emerge. Allow it to come into being in an amount and degree of intensity that feels right for you. It should feel inspired, not forced.
Build slowly and consistently at a pace or intensity level that you can maintain. It’s not about seeing how quickly you can “get it done and over with” or creating a pressure-filled item to add to your ever-lengthening “to-do” list. It is, however, about honoring the time you’ve set aside for this, and sticking with it. It’s about savoring. (Envision a slow cooker, not a microwave oven!)
Another way to approach it may be to consider this: If you were to venture away from it – your daily practice – would you “miss” it? Would you miss the feelings, the centeredness, the groundedness, the solace, that it brings? If not, either change the practice, or step away from it. Set aside some time to get quiet, be still, and allow a new, more inspired practice to come forward to take its place. This is not something you do out of a sense of sullen obligation or worse yet, out of a sense of guilt…yuck! Turn back! Reconsider! Regroup!
To the extent logistically possible, aim to maintain this daily practice at the same time each day, and in the same sacred location and designated space. It can be within your home or outside. When traveling, bring with you an object or piece of clothing as a reminder of, and that holds the same sacred energy as, that of your daily practice back home.
For me, my daily practice takes place in a corner of my bedroom, with an altar and a yoga mat. Each morning, I light a candle, and clear my mind of any chatter, through breathing and meditation. Next, I’ll engage in prayer, yoga, reflection on my heart and soul’s desires, visioning or a combination of these.
If any or all of this seems intimidating, or overwhelming, relax and let that go. Allow any anxiety to subside.
Start with what is “do-able” for you, in the place and space that you are, right now, on this day. And congratulate yourself for embarking on any, or any new-for-you, daily practice! It’s a beautiful way to honor yourself and to take stock of the day and all the wondrous potential within you and all that awaits you.
A Spiritual Discipline – A Ritual with Meaning
When well designed, a daily devotional practice is an easily repeatable process that tells you, your body, mind, spirit and soul – that this is your special time each day – devoted to this practice, and not like any other time of day.
Remember, it’s helpful to “set the scene.” Light a candle, or wear a particular item of clothing. If journaling, have a particular pen set aside just for this purpose. Maybe you choose to sit in a particular spot in your home, or out on your deck, or on a particular bench in a nearby park? Maybe for you, it will involve taking a particular walking trail each day?
Approach it with a certain consciousness, deliberateness, and awareness. It’s surely not done aimlessly and out of a sense of “this is just my same ol’ routine.” It shouldn’t feel ordinary. Rather, welcome it as a divine invitation. Embrace it. It’s as special and unique as you are!
Okay, your turn:
What is your current daily devotional practice? What feelings tend to arise as you participate each day? What, if any, patterns have been emerging for you, from day-to-day and over time? What are you noticing about your mood, energy level, ability to focus, and the like? Or, if you’re ready to start a brand new daily devotional practice, what are you choosing to incorporate into your day?
Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!