When I returned to my spiritual practices after a too-long break, I found it was hard to put things in their proper “place.” I’d be interrupted in my practice, distracted, and interrupted by things that were irrelevant. Nothing like deciding to get back to really deep spiritual activity then getting incredibly pissed about things like getting your chore schedule in order.
Reflecting on past experiences and interests, I came to the realization that a lot of spiritual practices (theistic, non-theistic, humorous, etc.) involve a mental ecosystem. Meditations, magic, correspondences, and so on align with your job, ethics, and perhaps even furniture placement (hello feng shui?). Your spiritual work of whatever kind really makes progress when your life ties together.
In my own work, which is informed by a mix of Taoism and syncretic practices, I took the following activities:
- I read a few passages from one of my copies of the Tao Te Ching each night. The TTC is a philosophical document, and it led me to think about my life and my activities.
- I read about one of the Hexagrams of the I Ching each night from some of the books in my library. The I Ching is deeply tied to many Chinese philosophies, and many commentaries and interpretations add even more thought. It’s mix of the cosmic and the human help me think bigger.
- I continue my usual devotional/religious work around chosen gods, but think about how I embody them and why they matter to me. Where do I fit into the big picture and all these organic processes?
- I ask questions about my media consumption and relaxation. Ironically it seems the answer is “I probably need more.”
In about a month I’ve found my viewpoints changing. My spiritual activities aren’t alien to my life or vice versa, but the two are more connected. I’m getting a “bigger picture” sense of what I’m doing. It’s also nothing self-aggrandizing, it’s more everyday things like how I lead at work or what I eat (chocolate,pizza, burritos – the signs I’m stressed).
And it’s all some reading, contemplation, and regular activities that help tie my life together into the bigger picture. It’s honestly nothing special, it’s probably something most anyone does to one extent or another. It’s just conscious on my part, with my fascination of using myself as a kind of laboratory.
I’ll doubtlessly write more on this. But if you’re finding your spiritual work and life don’t line up, consider how you can align yourself a little more. Some reading, regular thought about issues, some schedules, might help you connect the dots.
Nothing major here. Just a few observations from someone else on the path.