In Search of a “Satisfying Spiritual Practice” 12

In January, I created a list of ten personal and professional goals to accomplish during the year. These goals included health, family, writing, home improvement, financial, and spiritual aspects of my life. By far the most nebulous goal was to create a “satisfying spiritual practice.” As a goal, it is too vague and nonspecific. I knew this, but let it stand, because I felt that I had not been paying enough attention to this part of my life.

My first act in establishing a satisfying spiritual practice was to journal about it — to freewrite and word cluster in order to define what I meant. And, to do that, I needed to define all three core words: satisfying, spiritual, and practice.

First, the word spiritual. I’m not a religious person — haven’t been for many years. I don’t believe in a particular god or a particular path in life. I don’t believe there’s a divine plan out there, a preordained map that I’m supposed to follow. I don’t believe there’s an answer to the condition of mankind — nor that there needs to be one.

But I do believe in free will and that deep within me lives a soul that is, in some form, eternal. Whether that means that the person I identify as “me” stays intact or whether that “me” breaks up into little tiny energetic particles and merges with the greater universe, I don’t know and I don’t care. I believe that this deep-down soul is in some way connected to a greater consciousness that is full of wisdom and knowledge, that my conscious self can dip into and access that knowledge and wisdom like a butterfly dipping its proboscis into a flower and scooping out its precious nectar, and that doing so will bring me greater wisdom and peace in this life.

Where did I get these beliefs? I don’t know. Perhaps I created them from the weft and weave of my life, my proximity and experience with organized religion and nature. All I know is that, from a very young age, I have been aware of a great hum of power beneath my feet, a network of roots connecting all living things with one another.

So by spiritual, I mean That in me which connects to That (I guess you could call it Spirit) in all else. Because when I connect to That, I feel calm, centered, peaceful, empowered. I become better able to experience events in a larger perspective. I am wiser, more grateful. Happier.

Practice means an act I perform on a regular basis that helps me to grow more skilled at connecting with the greater Spirit. Practices that seem to work for me include sitting in and paying attention to nature — at the beach, beneath the redwoods, or even on a patch of grass in my backyard — meditation, and slow, attentive movements such as yoga or dance. Even simply paying conscious attention to the moment I am in, absorbing sensory details and breathing seems to work. The act of writing is also a deeply spiritual practice, when done with presence and intention.

How much time does it take to practice these things? Very little, really, yet I often find myself to be forgetful, rushed, hurried, irritable, and off center. I don’t think I have the time. Yet, what would it really take to practice just enough to be satisfying?

Satisfying means I am able to maintain that calm, grateful, happier place enough of the time to feel balanced. Oh, that elusive state — balance! Would five minutes a day be enough? How about five minutes twice a day, three times a day?

Maybe all I need to do is set a reminder on my cell phone — let’s say three times a day — to breathe deeply and pay attention for 5 minutes to whatever is going on. To stretch, if I can. To stand up and reach my arms to the sky. To stand beneath a tree and feel its energy. And perhaps every month or so to schedule a day long retreat for myself, alone somewhere in nature. (That’s more challenging, but doable.)

Do you have a satisfying spiritual practice that helps you feel calm, grateful, and balanced? Feel free to share. One request: I’d appreciate if you’d avoid including any particular religion’s doctrine and/or dogma in your sharing. Simply write what it is that you do on a regular basis and how it helps you.


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12 thoughts on “In Search of a “Satisfying Spiritual Practice”

  • Suellen

    Thank you for this very thoughtful and inspiring piece of writing. It struck a chord with me this morning. When I was working full time with a part time job on the side, I had very little time for anything else. Yet periodically I would recognize what I called “spiritual deficits” where life was just not very satisfying or worth the trouble. At that time I would know that I needed to get out into the woods for a day or even a half day. I have always received spiritual sustenance from nature and I know if I don’t spend some time in the cathedral of the natural world, my life becomes meaningless. It is my way of connecting to the universe or the universal energy or whatever you wish to call it. Now that I am retired from my day job, I still seem to be just as busy. I thought it would be easier to maintain that connection but indeed it is just as hard. Thanks for the reminder that I still need to make time for this. Writing more about in my journal would be an awesome thing too. Thanks again!

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Suellen, I believe we all need to connect with nature to bring us “back to earth” and into the present. And you’re right … even when we have time, we can fill our days and forget to nurture this all-so-important aspect of our beings.

  • patsy ann taylor

    Thank you for touching on one of three areas in our lives, often overlooked because of the intensity of the other two: work and recreation. Spirituality informs much of my writing and concentration on that third part of life, for me, comes in my nightly journaling. My entries are often conversations with God. Not prayers, but more a catching up time, a sorting of the day’s events.
    Your post is a good reminder that we all might take a closer look at spirit and how to keep it nourished.

  • Barbara Toboni

    I suppose you can call exercise spiritual when done mindfully. Not always the case with me since hooking up a laptop to my treadmill so I can watch Netflix! It is a regular practice as well. And it is satisfying to see that my weight stays stable. Also, every few months I commit myself to journaling daily, and I know that helps. I tend to use my journal like a diary. There’s a lot of senseless garbage in it. I tend to vent in there, get rid of negative energy. I wish there were more gratitude statements in my journal. That would be a good daily practice. I’ll work on it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Barbara — absolutely! I forgot to list exercise as one of the ways to nurture myself spiritually. In particular, intense exercise helps me to clear my mind and can be a form of meditation, though as you say, maybe not while watching Netflix.

  • Kathi

    I’ve been working on spirituality this summer, too. I’ve discovered, for me, part of being spiritual is feeling whole. A few weeks ago, I put set a reminder to pop up on my laptop and phone that asks, “Is what I’m doing right now contributing to my wholeness?” It seems to help me stay focused on the spiritual side of my life as well as helps me commit to activities that are are in line with my Higher Power.
    Thank you for writing on this subject. We can all benefit by thinking more about our practice.

  • Lynette

    I seem to find myself on the slippery slope to internal chaos if I don’t regularly take time to renew myself spiritually. For me that means several things: a long leisurely walk, at least twice a week, not for the exercise but for pondering. Journaling every day to “clean house”. A day a week to be creative without putting time limits on the activity I choose, and a twice yearly full stop at a nearby retreat centre where I spend 2 or 3 days writing, reading, napping and praying. As soon as I start skipping these things life starts to get harder than it needs to be.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Lynette, I have only had the opportunity to spend a weekend (2 or 3 days) to myself perhaps twice in my life, and I count those personal retreats among the most profound events in my life. I look forward to a time in my life when scheduling personal retreat time will be a regular part of my spiritual practice. Yes, yes, yes.

  • Denise Fletcher

    Life was always very busy. But I ended up with a job that allowed me alone time. Some of my best analyzing of life,family, work, relationships, and goals was achieved during these times. I have seen much of chaos, homelessness, abused, neglected, injustices, that is everywhere. And that was just in my family. I hear often we make our own choices true enough. But what about the choices we make for betterment that turns into hurtful and harmful situations to yourself and does nothing to help the situation. That’s when I turned to spiritual guidance to help me to make right choices. Through it all I am still here, lost much along the way. A few months ago I gave up total control to decision making to chance. Since, when I made choices, it was almost always the wrong choice.
    Now I paint pictures, love my dog Matilda, and continue to write. Don’t expect to much from life because it doesn’t turn out as expected.