26 November 2008

Using Spiritual Practices

Our Becoming a Woman of Purpose Meetup met last weekend. I want to say thank you ladies for coming out on a frigid afternoon, I appreciate you all.

We talked about spiritual practices ~ some tips on how to use them and some examples of specific ones. One very important tip is to just do it! It is not about being perfect, but being centered and at peace. This you will never accomplish if you just don’t start already! Never mind about how it looks or sounds to anyone else, this is your journey and your practice. It looks however you need it to look for it to work for you.

Another tip is to have no expectations. It is said that expectations are future rejections. When I expect someone to do something, and they do not; it is not the person that has let me down, but my expectation of them. Go into everything with an open heart and an open mind. This is critical for spiritual practices because when you have expectations, chances are something will come up that is not in line with what you expected. Then what? You give up because it didn’t go according to your plan. In the realm of the spirit, nothing goes according to your plan. This is an important lesson to keep handy. I can do the same practice two days in a row and each day presents something different. Why? Because I am different. I am feeling something different, I am experiencing something new and different, or I am just in a funky place at the time.

One of our newest members shared her spiritual practice of meditation. She remarked how centered and peaceful she feels once she has had her meditation time; and how empty she feels when she does not meditate. Another member shared that she creates vision boards and this is very calming for her.

There is no set practice ~ whatever you do to connect you with the divinity that is within you and outside of you is your practice. I shared my four main practices: prayer and contemplation; spiritual reading; silence and solitude; and journaling. I can definitely feel the effects when one or all of those practices go unchecked. For silence and solitude, I take myself on an Artist Date; just me, my journal and my pen. No friends, family or pets. No distractions, just time to be with yourself, to get to know yourself more.

If you are a newbie to spiritual practices, there are two sites that I have found to very useful: One is Beliefnet – whatever your belief system, this site will accommodate you. It offers prayers, meditations, news and views on all things of a spiritual and religious nature. The other site is Spirituality and Health, named for the magazine. Try one or both sites to jumpstart or spice up your spiritual practice.

I also shared a ritual I use for ending my day: every evening I do a self-inquiry of my day. I answer three questions:
*What have I learned today?
*What have I enjoyed today?
*What have I improved or contributed to today?

Then I list five things I am grateful for that day. Instead of going to sleep anxious and worried about the day or the next day, this sets the tone for restful and peaceful sleep. When you wake up, set an intention for your day.

What would you like the day to look like? Ex., a day full of peace-filled conversations with no drama!

How do you want to feel? I want to feel peaceful and grateful all day, not worried or stressed.

Also, if you have a petty tyrant, that special person whose job it is to constantly annoy you, set an intention that your petty tyrant won’t annoy you today. And if s/he does, it won’t bother you; you will remain in a state of peace and goodwill. It may sound hokey, but when done in the proper spirit, it does work and you will notice the difference. As a coach, teacher and speaker, I have many petty tyrants. Yet, I see them as my teachers ~ they are in my life to teach me something. Yet, I simply remain open and grateful for the lessons and the blessings that come. This is what consistently doing spiritual practices has taught me ~ to be more open and look for the light instead of expecting the darkness.

I would love to hear what spiritual practices work for you. Please share them with us.

In peace and gratitude,
Coach Carolyn

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