Psychologist Dr. Jean Houston has said that we are the victims of an "age of interrupted process." Meaning, you generally know a bit about how things begin and how they end, but you are rarely present throughout the middle – or the process. The point she makes is that people tend to either be ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, not realizing that the very key to living a life of meaning and purpose exists in the now.
The propensity toward mindlessly cycling through your day on autopilot is the formula for experiencing a life devoid of joy and fulfilment. You may know that and yet, you do it anyway. There are, however, many who are waking up and asking themselves the more important questions: Who am I? What do I want? What am I here to do? What makes me feel happy, connected, and full of purpose?
An interesting phenomenon is occurring where having a “spiritual practice” has become trendy, to the point that many boast living a spiritual lifestyle that consists of 30 minutes of meditation each day and living the other 15.5 hours of their days contradicting everything their practice is meant to cultivate. To some degree, we all do it. The awareness is there and you’re yearning still for more meaningful relationships, deeper connections, and spiritual experiences, to the extent that you end up chasing an idea rather than bringing that idea down into a tangible daily practice.
It starts with the understanding that everything you do can be a spiritual act. There are the obvious practices that you have been taught are spiritual—things like meditation, prayer, yoga, chanting, energy work, and the like. Yet, this is where you may tend to limit yourself in thinking that only the stereotypical spiritual “doings” lead you to finding your dharma—or purpose—when in fact everything is a spiritual act.
Sādhanā is a Sanskrit word that literally translates to “a means of accomplishing something.” More specifically, Sādhanā is the discipline undertaken in pursuit of a goal. Essentially, the very act of setting out to cultivate a spiritual practice implies that there is an inherent desire within you to experience something deeper than your everyday reality. In that, you are searching for something in your spiritual practice that will provide you with a sense of purpose, meaning, and connection.
Let’s explore some things that may not make the average list of spiritual ‘to-do’s’ and examine more closely how bringing your awareness to the little things you do every single day—those things that are so much a part of your daily routine that you hardly notice them—are examples of how you are already living from a spiritual place. As you read through the points below, remember that the idea is to be present in everything you do and to recognize the intention or the purpose for what, why, and how you do things.
Morning Ritual: Intention
Morning rituals are all about waking up, setting intentions, and preparing yourself to greet the new day. Think about the energy of creation: what are you going to create today, and how will you prepare yourself in a way that will make your intentions come into manifest form?
- As you wake up and connect with your partner, your children, your pet, or yourself, notice any physical sensations, mental images, thoughts, or feelings. Spend a few moments in gratitude for the connection you have. For each thing you do for them in the morning, be present to the act, why you are doing it, and the effect it has on their morning routine.
- While you make your morning coffee or tea, be present with each step of the process. Imagine putting the energy of love, gratitude, inspiration, motivation, peace, or love into your actions. Notice how it feels as you hold the cup and sip from it. Where do your thoughts go?
- When you are prepping your meals (morning and evening), think about each thing you are going to consume and give thanks to the plant or animal for giving its life force energy so you can properly fuel your body. Imagine with every bite you take that you are healthier, more energized, and have more mental clarity and stamina.
- Begin to think about your intentions for how you would like to show up in your day. What would you like to create today? What would you like to have happen or to experience? How can you contribute in the workplace, your community, or globally? What inspires you? What makes you come alive?
Daytime Ritual—Keeping a Connection to Spirit/God/Universe
Daytime rituals are all about how you go about your day and how you are connecting with yourself, others, and Source, Spirit, or the Universe (whichever ideal you subscribe to). Think of this as the energy of transformation. It’s how you are showing up in the world; how you are following through with your intended practices, and what you are learning as you move through your day.
- Exercise is the grounding mechanism for your physical body. It keeps you strong, flexible, balanced, and energized in every way. Begin to look at your exercise regimen as the thing that provides you with the foundation from which you can create the life you desire. Tending to the your physical foundation is what enables you to go out into the world and live with purpose.
- Be mindful of conversations with other people. Make a point to practice listening attentively and really hearing what the other person is saying. Are your responses contributing in a positive way toward unfolding potential for everyone involved?
- How do you show up in the world? In addition to what you do each day, have a greater awareness of how you do things. Do you apply yourself with focused attention, a clear intention, and one-pointed focus? Or, are you rushing through the day, oblivious to the beauty of nature around you, responding to conversations while scrolling social media and generally unaware?
Evening Ritual—Winding Down
Evening rituals are more about taking your foot off the gas and slowing the energy down in preparation for a good night of rest and rejuvenation. Think about the energy of completion. It’s also about reflection: what were your intentions for your day, how did you navigate your interactions and experiences, what accomplishments can you celebrate, and how or where can you improve tomorrow?
- How do you reconnect with self, your roommate, your partner, and your family at the end of the busy day? After you slip into comfy clothing, take some time to talk with others about the positive highlights from their day—and share yours with them.
- Spend a few minutes recapping your day silently in your mind. This is called recapitulation. Use this to review your day from start to finish. This will help you develop a greater level of awareness of how you are choosing to live each day of your life.
- Create a “winding down” routine that includes journaling, light reading or bathing, and getting restful sleep. A hot shower or bath will help relax you after a long day, then perhaps take some time to journal about how your day went. To get a restful night of sleep, lights out by 10 pm and avoid watching television in bed (or falling asleep with it on).
Again, many of these points are things you may already do every day, but may not slow down long enough to realize that everything you do can be looked upon as part of your Sādhanā—your means of accomplishing something meaningful in your life. Another thing to consider is your environment and whether you need to make any changes to your lifestyle in order to clean things up or create the space to pursue other meaningful practices.
As author and astrologist Dane Rudhyar said, “One may indeed say that it is not the event which happens to the person, but the person which happens to the event.” In other words, it’s up to you to make everything you do meaningful, and this is how you live a life of everyday magic.