A Simple Beginning For Spiritual Practice

First of all, what is a “spiritual practice”? Perhaps the simplest definition is that it’s a means of getting to know God on a one-on-one basis. Let’s just begin with that.

The entire subject of spiritual practice is often laced with overwhelming images of cloistered monks or nuns spending day after day within the confines of ancient gothic buildings, where there is little or no contact with the outside world. Silence is the rule. The experience there is one of rigorous prayer, meditation, contemplation, ritual, chant, and shared work which maintains the community’s day to day basic bodily needs.

While this may be the life a few feel called to embrace, this extreme isn’t the case for the vast majority of us. However, there is a hunger within many of us in these times which makes us ask, “Is this all there is?” Is this frantic life where I feel like I’ve lost track of myself, everyone and everything I hold dear, and the dreams I’ve had for my life all there is? Is the chase after the almighty dollar all there is? Or is carving out even a drab existence all there is, never mind the corporate ladder climbing?

I’m going to approach this writing from the perspective of essentially over 35 years of personal experience with spiritual practices – and also as someone who at the same time has led a very busy, ordinary life in the work-a-day world, with all the usual roles and responsibilities that go along with a family. I will not at this time share specifically what my own spiritual practice is because this isn’t about that, nor is it about me. What this is about is a simple way to begin, if you are sensing that the life you are living offers you little peace or satisfaction.

What is offered here will amount to a very rudimentary introduction to the idea of a spiritual practice, and a simple approach. This is where you can go if you’d like to answer the foregoing questions, or your own versions of them. If it appeals to you as something you’d like to explore, I only offer it as a small step forward in what can hold the potential of redirecting your life. The simplicity of this may appeal to those who are turned off by more “religious” and rigorous approaches.

To begin with, the best part of the day is its beginning – when that beginning is spent with the intention of becoming aware of the Presence of the Divine. It matters not what name you call “God”. The point is the intention of awareness of God, of making contact with God. 

It is a marvel to me that so many of us allow the heavy boots of the grinding systems of the world to so invasively overrun the boundaries of our lives that we lose track of God, and therefore of ourselves. How and where is anyone to find inner peace, or deeper meaning to our experiences, let alone a redirection of life toward greener pastures and calmer waters? how does such a journey begin?

If the prospect of meditation, prayer, spiritual studies, or the idea of contemplative practice seems like it may hold the answers, yet it also seems at this point to be only another brick on top of the load which already overburdens you, here’s a suggestion for simpler beginnings which may work for you. 

First of all, daily allow yourself 10 or 15 minutes of solitude and silence. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and sit in the stillness – where you can shut the door and have some privacy. No television, no radio, no newspaper, no noise, no distractions… just you being in the space with God. Let your breathing slow and deepen, and begin by telling yourself, “God is, and I am in God; therefore all is well in my life and my world.” This simple shift of focus signals the Universe that you intend to calm the waters, and that you are up for experiencing some inner peace first of all.

Stay with the quiet of that moment until you’ve finished sipping your coffee. Sipping, not gulping and hurrying. Maintain the moment. Let the calm and the peace of it sink deeply into mind and body. Then as you move into your day, intentionally take the peace of these moments with you, regarding yourself as always being in God.

This is only a suggestion regarding how to begin – a simple break in the mundane routine, recommended first thing in the morning, with a view to committing to it every day without fail. It is a little prescription for world weariness.

Considering the circumstances already confronting most of us in these times, it is good to first establish a practice which is not going to be overwhelming. A spiritual practice tends to “grow itself”. It is like physical exercise – not too much too fast, because then it is too easily given up because we expect more of ourselves than we can handle at the beginning.

The most natural tug on our hearts is that of having contact with our Divine Source, or God, so as this little space is set aside for that, allowing it to be first priority, the desire for it expands, and we find that all of life is energized and redirected through this daily contact and encounter.

“There is a balm in Gilead” is a line from a  very old spiritual song. Taken into the context we are discussing, it means that there is a “spiritual healing ointment” in the presence of God. If we reach out to it with the open hand of intention to receive it, it is given! This contact with the Infinite Good that God is, as often as possible, is a way to have our weary souls soothed. All we need already is! We just have to make ourselves available to it.

Spending time daily immersed in God’s presence can transform a life characterized by anxiety, weariness, stress, confusion, illness, or that sense of being on a gerbil wheel from which there is no exit. The beginning of this transformation is most readily accomplished by a simple refocus of attention away from the problems toward the quiet Center of Infinite Peace. This refocus – a practical “shift” of intention and awareness – starts to restore, to heal, and even to redirect life into a far happier and more compatible sphere of being. 

Within that sphere we become aware that we are not separated from unconditional love, but that it is always there, always has been, and always will be – if we will only turn toward it.

This process can require a bit of time and the exercise of a bit of patience. It must be given that. Yet it requires no theological understandings or the embracing of any dogmatic ideas. It only begins when we’re willing to take a little time by beginning each day with an intention that says, “Now it is my time to spend a few minutes with God.”

As is often discovered within those few moments, it is possible to break away from a frenzied overwhelmed existence. We realize, yes, this isn’t really all there is! If the blessing of inner peace can be experienced for a few minutes, why not more?

Indeed there is so much more! If we knock and keep on knocking, the door to Infinite Love and the “peace that passes all understanding” is opened to us, and we can begin to experience it for ourselves on an increasing measure – not only during these little Personal Inner Peace Retreats, but also in the midst of those times when we seem to be sailing through life’s tempests.

So don’t be afraid to allow yourself a new daily shift of focus by beginning with this simple practice. Here’s to “coffee and contemplation”! Or maybe “tea and transcendence”? Whatever you may want to call it, here’s where “shift happens”.

© 2/27/2013 by Rev. Yvonne R. Blasy, B.Msc.

Yvonne is an artist, songwriter, writer, minister, and Reiki Master. She was ordained a Metaphysical Minister through the International Metaphysical Ministry and University of Sedona in 2008. Her work and ministry take the forms of contemplative art, spiritual writing, and facilitating workshops and classes on art, creativity, and spiritual studies as means of healing, wholeness, and inner Creative Path Exploration. She also focuses on live music [folk, traditional, and folk style originals] as service to the “musically underserved” – those in nursing homes and other situations where enjoying the blessing of live music is not usually an option. Please contact via Linked In, Facebook, email, or her website for more information or to book a class, Reiki session, or music event.