Practice makes perfect. That’s something we have all heard and in many ways we believe in. Yet “practicing” can take its toll. Like anything else, spiritual practice can take a lot of effort and focused energy. At times, we may feel drained or lack some of the enthusiasm to continue the practice. I love the gym but there are some days that I just need a rest from it. I love my spiritual practice, but at times it can feel like an obligation rather than a choice. So how can we keep the excitement and energy going when we start to lose some of the enthusiasm in our daily spiritual practices?
- Schedule and push through! Let’s face it, many of us are attached to our phones and all their tools. So make use of those tools so that you can detach from it all. Put your mediation or prayer time in your calendar, or download a program that can remind you of taking a mindful breath at odd times in the day. It helps to have a schedule in mind – whether it is the same time every day or one that you create for yourself at the beginning of the week. Having reminders can support you in pushing through those moments when you are feeling a bit sluggish about your spiritual practices.
- Keep your spiritual practice toolbox diverse! A toolbox that only has one hammer isn’t going to be much help when you need a screw driver. The whole power in a toolbox comes from having a diverse group of tools that you can call upon as a situation arises. The same can be said for spiritual practices. Diversify the ways you practice and are connected to the Presence. Mediation can take many forms – they can be guided or simply being in the silence, indoors in your favorite room or outside under a tree, sitting in the lotus position or walking through a park. Try them all and start to recognize which works best for whatever situation you may be going through. If you may be feeling lonely, a communal times of meditation may be just what you need. If you are feeling distracted or absent-minded, you may want some alone time to decompress and become more centered.
- Keep your spiritual practice fresh! Rather than deciding to meditate every morning with the same CD playing, try to keep it fresh by making slight or bigger changes to your routine. Maybe it’s scheduling a different practice each day. Mindfulness Monday, Tai-Chi Tuesdays, OM Hour Wednesdays, etc. Another way to keep it fresh is to continually take classes and workshops that can deepen and expand your spiritual practices. I remember when I first learned about the Dessert Father’s mediation practices that involved moving back and forth while keeping myself focused on an affirmation or reading. At the time, it brought new energy to what was becoming a stagnant mediation practice.
- Make it part of a community effort! I love going to the gym but I need to be part of a gym that fosters community. Going in and out is not enough for me. I need to have people that connect me to the gym, to the working out. When I don’t show up at the gym for the 9 AM class, getting a text or call from one of my gym buddies makes me get dressed and be there for the 10 AM class. The same can support us in our practice. Have some time in communal meditation or group yoga classes. Connect with those around you. When someone doesn’t show up, let them know you missed them which also gives them permission to do the same with you.
Our spiritual practice may look different but as people we go through the some of the same struggles. If you hit a lull in your spiritual practices, you can choose to do the above and bring in new energy to it. Finding the right balance for yourself is key and will go a long way in making your practices one which you will deepen and continue much farther than you think possible.
Rev. Juan del Hierro
Unity on the Bay