CUUC

CUUC

2015-04-02

Choose Your Spiritual Practice

Practice of the Week
Choose Your Spiritual Practice
“You create a path of your own by looking within yourself and listening to your soul, cultivating your own ways of experiencing the sacred and then practicing it. Practicing until you make it a song that sings you." (Sue Monk Kidd)
This "Practice of the Week" column began in 2014 Jan. Since then, it has offered many practices -- about one per week for the last 16 months. Each one of these practices helps in the development of mental, psychological, and spiritual health and flourishing.

Each of the other "practices of the week" have been practices that will benefit everyone. This week, however, we ask you to think about something that might not be for everyone -- but is for you. Here's a partial listing of possible spiritual practices:

using prayer beads
fasting
attending peace vigils
listening to music
serving on the congregation’s Board of Trustees
walking a labyrinthe
needlepoint
antiracism work
writing letters to the editor
painting
scuplting
cardio kickboxing
bath time with your kids
saying “hello” to cashiers and clerks
dancing
teaching RE
washing dishes
taking a bubble bath
chanting
camping
running
creating sacred space
tai chi
going to an art museum
surfing
making pottery
attending worship
caring for an ailing parent
writing haiku
playing an instrument
playing with children
yoga
hosting coffee hour
having dinner with friends
studying astronomy
quilting
knitting
cycling
recycling
singing in the choir
nature walks
going to a beach
cooking
martial arts
marching for social change
reciting mantras
e-mailing your governmental representatives
gardening
studying evolution

What Makes "Something I Do" into "A Spiritual Practice"?

Not every activity or pastime is a spiritual practice. The above activities might or might not be approached in a way that makes them a spiritual practice. It's a spiritual practice if it helps you cultivate spiritual development.

So how can you recognize spiritual development? Here are some symptoms of developing spirituality:
  • increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen;
  • more frequent attacks of smiling from the heart;
  • more frequent feelings of being connected with others and nature;
  • more frequent episodes of overwhelming appreciation;
  • decisions flow more from intention or spontaneity and less from fears based on past experience;
  • greater ability to enjoy each moment;
  • decreased worrying;
  • decreased interest in conflict, in interpreting the actions of others, in judging others, and in judging self;
  • increased nonjudgmental curiosity;
  • increased capacity to love without expecting anything in return;
  • increased receptivity to kindness offered and increased interest in extending kindness to others.
Gardening or marching for social change or playing an instrument might or might not cultivate these symptoms. If you find that an activity helps you have more of these symptoms, then that activity is a spiritual practice for you.

An activity is more likely to work as spiritual practice if you follow these four guidelines:
  1. engage the activity with mindfulness (see previous practice of the week, "cultivate mindfulness" HERE, and "be mindful" HERE).
  2. engage in the activity with intention of thereby cultivating spiritual development. As you do the activity -- or just before and just after -- reflect on your intention to manifest those symptoms of spiritual development in your life.
  3. engage the activity with a group that gathers expressly to do the activity in a way that cultivates spirituality. Group members share spiritual reflections before, during, or after doing the activity together.
  4. establish a foundation of spiritual orientation through the three base practices: (a) daily meditation (SEE HERE), (b) daily journaling (SEE HERE), and (c) daily spiritual study (SEE HERE). Painting, running, or reciting a mantra -- or whatever spiritual practice you choose -- will work better as a spiritual practice if you lay this foundation with three base practices that prepare the way for experiencing other activities as spiritual.
Choose an activity and adopt it as your spiritual practice!

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Previous Practice of the Week:  "Slow Down"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practice of the Week Index"

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