Modern Times

I do the regular things – breakfast, pills, brush teeth and then I look at my daily calendar. It’s going to be a busy one with phone calls to make, bills to pay, lunch with a friend and some time in the gym. I should be working on my book. I should be doing some errands. I should… So I start my morning with meditation, reading from a spiritual book and some affirmative prayer. That first 45 minutes is precious time and I know it will be helpful to every other activity in this day.

Even for a semi-retired person like myself, the days seem to fill up quickly. One thing I’ve learned is that if I spend some time on spiritual activities early in the morning, my whole day will go better. A few minutes reading one of my favorite authors will put me in touch with the Infinite and that will put my “to-do” list in perspective. A simple prayer claiming that my day goes well will grease the wheels of life. Meditation will slow me down, balance my mind and spirit and set me up to greet whatever comes my way with joy.

I know that there are so many things that seem urgent for most of us. Many well-meaning people find it difficult to put their own spiritual practice into their day. This can be a major pitfall for ministers, if they don’t watch it.

Life moves quickly in this day and age and I don’t blame myself, or anyone else, since time management seems to be the personal problem of this age. I sometimes wonder where all the time has gone. No one seems to have enough to go around.

We have so many labor saving devices that it seems as though we should have plenty of time but it hasn’t worked out that way for most people. Fear, ambition and habit combine to keep a lot of people on the run and this makes for a lot of anxiety that can translate as illness.

While I know that being in service to others is a spiritual practice, it is not enough. I am much better about paying attention to my personal practice than I used to be. I manage to get quite a bit in sometime during the day. We should always put ourselves first before we try to help others. That old story about putting on your own oxygen mask before you help your children is a good story for many of us to remember.

Since I semi-retired, I’ve learned to start out with a good spiritual practice each day. I find many ways for paying attention. One consistent activity is to set my intention in writing every morning. I write, “Another day to be glad in” and list ten things I’m grateful for.  It really is important to stay in gratitude and it really is important to remember our “God self” early as possible each day.

One of these days, I expect that I will hear someone say, ”I don’t care who stole my cheese but I that other thief to bring my time back.” Or he may say, “I don’t want to swim with the sharks anymore, I just want to lie on the beach and get a tan.”

The pitiful part of this story is how many of us work hard so we can retire and then fill up our retirement hours with volunteer activities. Are we afraid to let go and relax for fear the world will pass us by? Or is simply that the world demands more of our time than we have to give?

I don’t have all the answers since I am very busy myself – teaching classes, writing a blog and books and keeping a social life as well as trying to make it to the gym on a regular basis. The part of the answer that I do have is that a regular spiritual practice slows down the anxiety, clears up any negative emotions, and smoothes out the day.

In the busy world where we are hypnotized into thinking that the material world is the only reality, a 45 minute time period spent on spiritual matters can truly be the key to a better life. Just getting in touch with your deeper nature for a few minutes each day is renewing, rejuvenating and restful. It makes everything go better and it keeps you from feeling like an accidental leaf blowing in the wind of change.

My spiritual practice varies from day to day and week to week. Right now I am reading a book by Huston Smith called Why Religion Matters. A week or so ago I was doing drawings that were a combination of affirmation and drawing and meditation that I invented.

During the day, I try to incorporate spiritual practice wherever I can. When I am on the treadmill, I sometimes treat for myself and/or others. When I am preparing for a class, I try to move into a place where I am asking myself what this has to do with my personal life.

There are lots of ways to remember that you really are a unique, individualized expression of God and different methods work for different people at different times in their lives. The important thing is to remember the truth.

Ask Yourself

What does my spiritual practice look like now?

How would I like to change it?

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