How many times have you told yourself that you should meditate because it would be good for you? And how long do your good intentions usually last?
We all know that mediation is supposed to be a good for health and wellbeing. Many of us would like to have a regular spiritual practice that keeps us grounded and in touch with our inner selves. But we also have lives full of other commitments, relationships and activities that take our attention. How often does meditation end up dropping down the list of priorities?
I have lost count of the number of times that I made a commitment to do regular yoga, or meditation, or chanting a mantra and then found it fall away in less than a fortnight. I just couldn’t seem to stick at any spiritual practice. In retrospect, I think that there were a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is now clear to me. It simply wasn’t enjoyable enough.
This is what I learned over more than a decade of spiritual seeking and good intentions:
- There is no surer way to suck the joy out of spiritual practice that to think that it is something you should do.
- If you are trying to achieve something or trying at all then it simply won’t work in the long term.
- If your chosen practice feels even a little bit heavy or tight then it won’t last.
- You may feel virtuous for a while or even slightly superior to others but this usually means that you are going in the wrong direction.
- It is possible to meditate and consciously quieten your mind without this spreading peace and joy into the rest of your life.
What is the key to sustainable and enjoyable spiritual practice?
My approach to spirituality in those years of seeking was coloured by a lifetime of training and conditioning. I thought that spiritual growth was something that I had to work at – like everything else. I had a deep-seated belief that it couldn’t be easy. I was convinced that I would to have to do the long, hard yards. Never mind that I had two children to care for, a household to manage and countless other things pressing on my time and attention. I had to knuckle down.
I was missing something very important. I had not yet realized that spirituality is a concept. I did not yet understand that the Universe is composed of joyful, vibrant love-light energy. There was nothing I had to seek or strive towards. It was always already available to me. All I had to do was relax and notice.
There is no better way to tell how “spiritual” someone is than to observe how happy they are. Not just happy about the current circumstances, but emitting an underlying energy of joy and wellbeing. And you can’t get closer to that joy and wellbeing by working hard at it. Or trying. Or thinking you should.
I realized that my attempts at spiritual practice had been more about control than about joy.
With that realization I was finally able to let it all go. That is when my awareness really began to open up and life became a lot more fun.
How does spiritual practice become easy and joyful?
There are a three things that really make a difference in my life:
- I stop for a few seconds as often as I remember throughout my day and pay attention to my inner energy field. I feel the tingling aliveness within my body. I recognize how calm and joyful it feels. I know I can find my way back to connect with this inner energy no matter what is happening in my life. And it is easy!
- I ask myself “What would someone who loves themselves do right now?” This sounds so simple, and yet the more often I ask this question the more it transforms my life. The answers shift and change in surprising ways. Sometimes I am called to say “No” to someone close to me. Sometimes I go and have a rest. And other times I laugh and sing and dance around the house in complete silliness.
- I follow the trail of what delights me. Most spiritually-inclined people know about the importance following their passion or bliss. I have only recently realized that this does not just apply to the BIG issues in life. It is not just about what work you do, where you live or who you choose to marry. It is fundamental to every moment. Following my delight and excitement moment-to-moment is the most wonderful spiritual practice I know. I don’t always remember to do this, but when it pops into my head to consider, it brings it’s own delight. What could be more joyful than thinking about what will delight?
The wonderful flow-on from these practices is that mediation is now something I absolutely LOVE. It is a time for me to relax completely and rest in Beingness. It is an opportunity gently turn my attention inwards and to bask in the inner glow of love and joy. Utter Bliss.