What the Practice Looks Like These Days
Over the break – from winter solstice to secular new year – I made a commitment to really strengthen and deepen my morning practices. I did my ten new goals with paradigm and guidelines, which I mentioned a few posts back, and the very first of my goals was to maintain my morning practice.
At the time I wrote the list, I figured I’d be doing my practice five days a week, you know, as part of getting ready for the workday. Saturdays are for sleeping in! Sundays are for church!
But then a couple of things happened. For one, Sundays became church-work as I moved into my new position. And Saturdays often now have meetings pretty early in the day. So Julie and I decided that the alarm needs to stay set at 6 for every day, so we have time to engage the practice that nurtures the day that unfolds from it.
For the longest time, I thought that the bulk of my practice needed to be silent meditation. And I still think that silent meditation is helpful, even key for my reflective life. Like many (especially extroverts?) I resist it. I find it difficult to do regularly, and when my practice consistently primarily of silent meditation, I practiced infrequently.
I came to the conclusion that I needed to keep silent meditation, but that it need not be the main body of my practice. I keep it because it is a discipline I want to encourage in myself, and because I know that it benefits my mission to be happy, fruitful, and wise. But it is no longer the whole picture.
First, there is breakfast, then coffee, and then my desk. At my desk, I settle in and write Morning Pages; Hello, Day! (see previous post); my goals and guidelines for the year; and any other preparatory writing that will explore what needs exploring or further set intentions for my day.
Then there is altar time. Time at my altar is varied, though it is always time at my altar. Silent meditation often begins my practice. Just a wee bit sometimes. Sometimes longer. If I play quiet music, I find I can sit longer. Is that “cheating?” I don’t know, but it’s part of my practice now.
Something I almost always do is sing. I chant or sing songs of opening, devotion, centering, and compassion. This part of my altar time is the most solid and can go on for as long as 45 minutes, though it usually lasts between 15 and 20.
The last thing that I sometimes do is work with Belleruth Naparstek’s Healing Journeys. Healing Journeys is a combination of music, guided imagery, and affirmations. I find them transformative when I’m using them consistently.
I’m also incorporating some yoga into my practice. More on that in a post to follow….the body in practice seems like a meaty topic in itself.
So that’s what I’m up to. What nourishes and sustains your unfolding days?