How do we bridge spirituality and daily life? All too often, we separate our spiritual life from our worldly life, for example, we meditate in the morning, then go to work and forget that soul is as present on the freeway and in the workplace as it was in the solitude of our meditation space. We go to spiritual events and sacred places: dharma talks, church or synagogue services, silent retreats, pilgrimages to holy sites – all of which are wonderful, of course. When we’re there we’re often calm, mindful and open-hearted, seeing the best in ourselves and others, absorbing the profound wisdom of the ages. Often, though, we return home and fail to see our family members as the spiritual teachers they are or the marketplace as fertile ground for awareness and spiritual practice. How, then, do we awaken to the sacred in everyday life?
Here are some suggestions:
Set a soul-centered tone for the day. Ask yourself, “How can I make this a soul-centered day? What can I do to remember who I truly am and who others really are? How can I stay on track today?”
Keep mindfulness notes where you’ll see them, with sayings like: Pause. Breathe. Let go. Return to the present. Keep it simple. Be. Here. Now.
Make choices throughout the day to leave your comfort zone, stretching beyond habitual patterns. A few months ago I decided to do at least 2 things every week that were a change from my usual routines, like trying something new on the computer or hiking in an area I’d never been before. This simple, yet sometimes difficult to execute, practice expands my identity. It opens me up to rich possibilities for living rather than the narrow, constricted field my ego would have me play in.
Attend to the immediacy of experience. Being ‘heady humans’, we’re often lost in thought, dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, strategizing this or that. We miss out on opportunities for intimacy with our inner and outer worlds that are available to us in each and every moment. Pause. Pause many times each day. Take a few mindful breaths. Let your shoulders drop, belly soften. Pause. Breathe. Let thoughts recede. They will – and you will be able to return your attention to the present moment.
Practice selfless service. Nothing opens the heart and derails the self-involved ego like extending love or compassion to others. And this is certainly a time in our history that calls upon us to help our fellow human beings, and all creatures, great and small.
Consider that every person and event is in your life for a reason. Ask yourself, “What am I learning here? How is my next door neighbor, stockbroker, supervisor or mother my spiritual teacher? ” “What am I learning and how am I growing from this unexpected change of plans, prolonged illness or new job opportunity?”
Practice acceptance of what is so. Practice letting go of control. Be willing to let go if life isn’t conforming to your expectations. It’s fine to have plans and goals, but if we’re attached to particular outcomes on our terms, we may be creating needless suffering for ourselves and others.
With attention and a willingness to include some new behaviors in our daily lives, we can create a soul-centered life, one that will benefit us and all of those whose lives we touch.