As part of the Life Redesign Project, I’ve been getting back to basics. You know – those spiritual practices that bring you depth, and a sense of authenticity. Practices that are pretty fundamental, but we tend to forget over time, as we grow and start to use other tools in our work.
Getting back to those basics has really sort of re-opened me to the possibilities of life. Obviously, I’m no absolute expert on all things spiritual, but these are some of the practices that I’ve returned to – practices that have reminded me of Who I Am.
1. Be mindful of your breath. In other words, take time out to focus on your breathing. I tend to use a counting method while focusing on my breathing. I breathe in to the count of 5, hold to the count of 5, and exhale to the count of 5. Sometimes, I exhale to the count of 6 or 7, just to be sure that I’ve completely emptied my lungs. But be careful with this one if you’re not used to it – you can cause yourself some dizziness.
2. Focus on Nature. As Pagans, we recognize Nature as Divine. Some of us consider it “Mother Nature,” as in The Goddess. Others of us may focus on Nature as God (think of the mythos of the Oak and Holly King, Dionysus or Pan, etc.). Others, like me, often think of Nature as a non-gender or a gender-fluid Being, more of a manifestation of Ultimate Consciousness – sort of. Whatever the case, focusing on Nature, outdoors, just observing quietly or being mindful of Nature can help bring us back to our state of openness.
3. Be in the Present Moment. As I said to a friend recently who is very precious to me, yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not a given. We only have Now. So we should be living Now. Now is the place where your ultimate Power is found. So focus on living Life as it comes to you, in this moment, now. Worrying about the past or being anxious about the future robs you of your innate ability to create the present moment for yourself.
4. Take inspired action. I want to give you a word of caution here: not all action is inspired. Sometimes, we can get caught up in the moment and think our action is inspired, when, in reality, we take the action out of paranoia or fear. To really be able to tell the difference between fearful and inspired action, you kind of have to know yourself. In some ways, though, fear is only a sign that what you’re contemplating is probably the best action for you to take. So use your powers of discernment here – if you’re inspired to take a trip (and all things are conducive, like your finances and your paid time off work), take the trip. If you’re strapped for cash, though, and you need to get your car fixed first, by all means, do that. You can be pragmatic and still live in the moment.
5. Make You a priority. In other words, put yourself at the top of your to-do list. Give yourself permission to say “No,” when you mean no, and “Yes,” when you mean yes. Give yourself permission to say, “No,” when you don’t feel up to doing something. Allow yourself to put yourself first. You can’t take care of everyone else forever and still be emotionally and physically healthy enough to take care of yourself. Besides, if you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. So give yourself permission to put yourself at the top of your Priority List.
I know this list is short. But these are the top 5 practices that have brought me back around to the reality that I am worthy, that I am enough, and that I can live my life with some semblance of love for myself. These are very basic spiritual practices that I have taught to students before. I think I need to throw them back into my classes, to be honest, to let all newcomers know that this is what is necessary to live the spiritual existence that they dream of living.