Up until a couple of years ago, I identified as an apathetic agnostic — much to the chagrin of my Buddhist father and Wiccan mother, who tried their best to raise me with their spiritual priorities. But I’m just not into organized religion for sociological reasons, and I then I also have strong feelings about independent spirituality as a performative practice… STRONG FEELINGS! I still get pissed when I think about music festivals I used to attend where the music would stop at midnight so a bunch of scantily clad hippie girls would light candles and waved fire fingers and do obtuse “prayerformances” at the altars built in front of the DJ.
For me, if you need to be seen as spiritual to feel spiritual, something’s out of alignment. I mean, validation-seeking is great. Duh: I’m a writer. I LOVE VALIDATION! It’s just that it’s a slippery slope to tangle up your validation-seeking with your spiritual seeking. In my experience, those who understand the most about inward spiritual practices, tend to say the least… so even writing this post makes me a little uncomfortable.
But the reality is that I’ve invested a lot of time into developing my personal spiritual practice this year, and so maybe sharing what I’m doing will be interesting to other folks on their own solo spiritual journeys? I’m under no illusions that what works for me will work for anyone else, but at the very least, it’s helpful for me to gather the information into one place.
Ok. Me and all my obsessive disclaimers aside, here are the components of my daily spiritual practice:
- Receptive meditation
This means a daily seated practice (usually 15 minutes a day with Headspace), and mindfulness through-out the day. Sometimes this just means focusing and taking a breath, and other times it’s weird shit like working on my intuitive/receptive skills by listening to people/situations with my entire body, while also not going all glazed-over-eyeballs and acting so disassociated that the situation gets socially awkward. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half now (aww, tiny baby steps! my hippie parents are so proud!), and so my daily seated practice feels mostly settled in at this point… but mindfulness in other contexts is definitely a work in progress.
- Devotional movement
Stretching, dancing, walking, jacking off, cracking ankles. I only do one hard work-out a week these days, and most of my movement is pretty gentle and chill. I’m not pushing things hard, but I still like to do conscious movement practice twice a day… even if it’s just one song of stretching in the morning, and one song in the evening. This feels natural and normal and like how did I ever not do this?
- Food & fasting
I’m trying to be awake when I eat, which is way way way more difficult than you’d think. See, six months ago, I ended up in the hospital for three days with an adhesion-related small bowel obstruction and an NG tube. I avoided surgery (this time?) but if I learned anything from the hospital trip, it’s that when my stomach feels odd, I need to stop drop and NOT EAT. That’s a big change for me, but I get now that if my stomach is stressed, it needs a pause. I try to eat smaller portions, more often, and more aware. Interestingly, it’s way harder to pay attention when I’m eating than it is to just eat less often. I don’t know what that says about me.
- Non-attachment to people & scenarios, attachment to NOW.
This is one of those aspirational practices, where the word PRACTICE is most literal because I am truly terrible at it. I love people and conversation, but when it gets into craving (ie, a desperate need not to be alone), then I try to rein myself in and focus on staying present rather than escaping discomfort or striving toward pleasure. This usually takes the form of catching myself spooling up, and recalibrating my attention on my five senses — especially the sensation of touch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I keep trying.
I’d love to hear about what little, private daily practices other people have. Again, I’m not into sanctimony or holier-than-thou spiritual one-ups-manship… but it’s cool to hear about the little ways that other folks have of keeping themselves grounded and present with whatever “soul” means to them.