Time Out for Spirit
Early in my spiritual journey, it was easy to stay connected. There were teachers, classes, workshops, personal monthly or weekly meetings of some kind. It was easy when I was Margaret’s student every Thursday, or when my Shamanic Practices class met once a month for a full day, and had homework in between.
But the further I go on my journey, the more I see that it is my job, not anybody else’s, to put spirituality into my life on a daily basis. Life is very engaging; that’s part of the game. We are constantly tempted to think that the problem of the moment is all there is, and the only important thing to pay attention to. It is easy to forget to center oneself, and remember that at least half, if not more, of our lives takes place in the Higher Self, via the spiritual connections we make; the commitments we make to self improvement and spiritual goals; and the unseen world all around us at all times, even when we are very ‘busy.’ God does not go away when we are not looking.
Those who have a spiritual calling and livelihood are at an advantage here. They are required to do their spiritual work as part of their income and their daily routine. It is their whole concern. But for many of us this is not possible. We have bills to pay from other fields of endeavor; we have different talents that do not seem to be ‘obviously’ spiritual. It is easy to forget that everything has spiritual underpinnings and needs to be done with the right intention. So the day zips by as we try to get through our to-do list, or please our boss, or our spouse, and at the end we find ourselves exhausted, uncentered, with little or no feeling of purpose or the connection to the divine that we crave. Life can get very empty, living on the surface this way.
This is where ritual can come in handy. A little time out, at least once a day, can remind you of the invisible underpinnings of life, and how important those are. For instance, there can be the pause for meditation, a very common way to connect both to the unseen and to the deepest parts of ourselves. Or there can be a short, mindful walk – 10 minutes will do – where we become aware of our surroundings and the present moment in contrast to the incessant list of “what to do next.” There can be a daily or weekly practice of yoga, or a period set-aside for prayer. It does not matter so much what the actual observance is. Helpful rituals and observances can come from any religion you know about, or simply from your own imagination. The point is to find a regular way to bring the sacred into the everyday, since it tends to creep into the background and be forgotten or neglected.
For example, I have several rituals that go into my morning. As part of a 12 Step program that I am working on, I say several prayers first thing in the morning. This helps remind me of my most important goals and the need to be in touch with God to be able to accomplish them. These goals are bigger than whatever I may have to do that particular day or month and give me some perspective.
Being from a shamanic tradition, I also want some way to access my connection with Nature and my Power Animals. So I light a piece of palo santo (“holy wood”) or sage, and smudge myself, while singing a chant:
tall trees, warm fires
strong winds, deep waters
I hear you all around me
I feel you in my heart
It helps to have an altar for this, but it is not necessary. A candle can be nice, too.
Over Christmas, my husband gave me a very special type of incense burner called a ‘backflow’ burner that directs the smoke downward into a holder, to pool and shift like a misty lake. I light this incense and watch it quietly for a minute or two to hold onto the centered, mindful mood before I go on with my day.
If there is time, I also add a quick 3-card Tarot reading for the day. If there is not, I just trust that the day will come to me in whatever fashion it is meant to, and that Spirit and I will handle it together. But at least I have started my day in a grounded, spiritual way that reminds me what life is all about before the relentless march of events hits me.
None of this takes very long. Maybe 5 minutes for each step (or less). If I have to skip one, I do the others. And if the day demands that I get out of bed and immediately get dressed and out of the house, I do that. But for me, centering in the morning is a crucial aspect of my life. I really feel the difference if I have to skip.
Perhaps another time of day is better for you. Maybe you would rather talk to Spirit at bedtime, looking over your day as it occurred. Or maybe a meditative pause or quick walk in the middle, interrupting all the craziness to become spiritually grounded again, is more appropriate for you. This could be the very best. It requires that you REMEMBER that Spirit is important and STOP what you are doing to connect with Spirit. Simply stopping to remember that, in your busy day, is half the point! Whatever it is, if you do your best to be consistent about it your heart will reward you.
The other thing that is perhaps equally important is to bring a sense of community to your spiritual life. Once upon a time, people did this through church. Many of us find this does not serve us any more. But it is still important to know that you are not alone on your spiritual path and development, that others are in the struggle with you, and you can learn from their strengths and victories. I make it a practice to meet with a shamanic group once a month to Journey, and currently belong to a SoundsTrue community that meets in shamanic ceremony at each full moon. Even if you cannot find anything immediate in your community, there are online groups that can help you feel less alone. We are all evolving toward our Higher Selves together; let’s not fall into the illusion that we are alone in our endeavor, or we may fall into the ultimate illusion that we are separate from the Universe and its love. Namaste.