So your life is already full…. You can’t even find the time to think…. What with the kids, work, the house… Spiritual Practices sound like just another drain on your time… You’re tired and you can’t imagine yourself taking on one more thing…
The paradox is this: many people who intentionally engage in Spiritual Practices find they have more time, not less. That’s because one of the offshoots of practices is a sense of inner peace, a sorting through of what truly matters, a glimpse at the bigger picture, and a strange sort of renewed energy…
For starters, watch this 5-minute Powerpoint presentation
If you truly don’t have a lot of time, how about trying a few of the following for starters:
- “Bookend” your day with two brief prayer practices: an “intentionality prayer”: as you wake up, make it your first thought to remember that this is God’s day, not yours; review whom you will encounter during the day, and invite God to use you as a vehicle of God’s presence. And when you get to bed, gently review your day in terms of what brought you deep pleasure – where had God been present – and what did not bring you any pleasure – where had you experienced God’s absence.
- If you’re comfortable with mp3 technology, instead of always listening to music through your earbuds, try downloading a ten-minute “Pray-as-you-go” meditation.
- Put a meditationCD in your car stereo system as you drive to work.
- Intentionally take five minutes before a church service to review your week and God’s presence in it; likewise, before you leave the service, preview your week to come and see how you might be the vehicle of God’s presence throughout it.
- If you have to walk your dog, develop a habit of a “walking meditation,” repeating a simple mantra – such as “Lord Jesus fill me with our love,” or “maranatha” (Come Lord Jesus), or any other simple phrase that captures your current mood, with each in- and out-breath.
- If you want to become more familiar with the Bible but don’t have the courage to tackle it “cold,” follow the weekly Lectionary. Instead of simply reading the passages, try placing yourself in imagination in the scene; what do you see? smell? feel? Think about the implications of what you experience.
- If you spend your day at a terminal, instead of diverting yourself with Facebook, explore “Sacred Space” and follow the daily meditation.
- If you enjoy an early morning cup of coffee by yourself, take that time to engage in a conversation with God (spend as much time listening as talking!)
- Instead of planning all of your holidays and long weekends as vacation, take a day or two and indulge in a silent retreat at a local retreat house or monastery. The experience can prove to be far more refreshing than you think!
- Participate in the Week of Guided Prayer in your community. For five days you will have a chance to experience God’s presence through daily meditation and sharing with a trained prayer guide.
- When you volunteer your time for a cause, take a moment before you start to remind yourself of what you’re doing and why; and when you’re done your shift or your task, reflect on how your actions might be helping to bring about God’s Kingdom of Love. (This is known as “active contemplation.”)
- Rekindle the old family tradition of a grace at mealtime. Take the time to reflect on how graced your lives are.
- Make a conscious effort to turn off all music – and the TV too! – for a while each day, simply to enjoy the silence and to be with yourself. You’d be surprised how all the ambient entertainment prevents us from truly experiencing our life as it is.
- When you are engaged in mundane everyday tasks – washing dishes, brushing your teeth, taking out the garbage – pay close attention to every gesture; admire how your body can perform these gestures; think of what kind of culture allows you to perform them; consider each mundane task as an opportunity for grace… Give thanks… In the Christian tradition, this is known as the Practice of the Presence of God.
- If you want to learn more about simple daily practices of the sacred, read for starters Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar on the World, or Thich Naht Hanh, Peace is Every Step. Or read the little book by the 17th century monk, Brother Laurence, available free on-line at http://www.practicegodspresence.com/index.html
- When you’re shopping, engage in a little critical reflection to encourage voluntary simplicity. Simply ask yourself if you really need what you are planning to buy; or ask yourself to what extent buying what you want to buy helps to bring about God’s Kingdom.