August 25, 2008

The One True Spiritual Practice

“In the real world, those of us who are most productive, successful, and satisfied focus not on fixing feelings or manipulating thoughts, but on what needs to be done — and then doing it — no matter what thoughts or feelings arise.” — Dan Millman

The week looms before you. There will be problems to solve, conflicts to work through. You may know frustration, joy, sadness, and ecstasy on the same day — even in the same hour. You’ll be interrupted by people, things, thoughts, and events that are completely out of your control.

Welcome to your life. Welcome to The One True Spiritual Practice.

There are innumerable exercises that people often think of as spiritual practices: Meditation, tai chi, yoga, prayer, attending church or satsang. Dozens of things we do in the name of spiritual practice.

Yet… when we awaken to our lives, we find the true practices in each Creative Moment we live. Getting up in the morning and being grateful for a new day. Feeding the cats or walking the dog. Gardening. Driving a car. Taking a bath or shower. Listening. Speaking. Working. Writing. Breathing. Eating. Each is a spiritual practice.

Each is an opportunity to pay attention, to be completely conscious of our choices and behaviors. You are a spiritual being in the flesh, and your task here is to pay attention.

Therefore, the best tool at your disposal now and in the week ahead is the exercise of acceptance.

Accept what happens without trying to control it, without struggle, without wishing it to be any different. Instead, pay attention to what comes, and exercise your power to choose what to do with it.

Now there’s a spiritual practice to last a lifetime!

Exercise

The exercise of acceptance takes a bit of doing for those of us who have been trained that we must be in control. One useful approach is to observe your physical sensations — particularly your breath — in various situations throughout the day.

Notice without judging where you may be sore or achy — or even in pain. Notice your breathing. Is it deep or shallow, or somewhere in between? Observe without attempting to change anything.

Give yourself and the world around you the gift of your attention. Be free from struggle, and discover that you can handle difficulties while they’re still easy.

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