Spiritual Practice, what does it even mean?
This another one of those things when "they the people" seem to know more than "we the people" who are left with a skrunkle brow thinking... I am not even sure what the effect they are talking about let alone what it means to me?
Lets break it down:
Spiritual practice could be defined as the regular performance of actions & activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences that cultivate spiritual development.
A spiritual practice could be said to move a person along a path towards a goal that being salvation, liberation or union with God, Source, The Universe, The Higher Self.
I had no idea what a spiritual practice was until I got older had a midlife unravelling which felt like my personal jigsaw that was apparently smoke mirrors & blue tack fell apart & I went on a journey to rekindle my relationship with myself.
The trouble started when I was in primary school. I left our mandatory morning benediction straight after communion - to be fair I knelt & said my thanks & mentioned to God that I gotta run- The decision was stay till the end of the mass or be late for school? There was no win both were punishable offences ... I choose leave early & not be late for school .......Still I got in trouble off a nun Sr Blah Blah for leaving mass early it resulted in detention & being berated in front of the class. Nothing bloody spiritual about that... I think my under the breath talk was well you can go fuck your self you bead wearing bitch..... I was 8 years old. Needless to say my relationship with a God of any kind went out the window with my sweary thoughts about Sr Blah Blah (who shall remain nameless although I remember her name)
It didn't end there catholic primary school & catholic high school nuns aplenty who I some how feel spiritual practice didn't extend past the church walls into human kindness.... or at least kindness to kids who were struggling to fid their own identities as they became e teenagers. I can bet there was a whole lot of confessing going on but the treatment was always the same fear driven & far from friendly & supportive. So nope there was no salvation for me.
We did have one priest in high school that taught us meditation. This was 38 years ago, he was well ahead of his time. I realise now what he was trying to impart to us but it was way over my 12 year old head. I wish the heads of nunnery would had have made space for this to be a regular part of our education....they may have stood a better chance of us engaging in a spiritual practice.
Stories of my resistance abound....Like the one where I told my grandmother over a Chinese restaurant dinner her favourite snow peas & king prawns lightly sautéed.... That all priests we gay because God was always, always depicted as a man & only men where allowed to become priests & when they became priests they wore a wedding ring binding them to God which from my 16 year old perspective made them gay. My grandmothers response was a huffy & very stern with a head shake "Oh Kate" she was a mass on a Sunday lady. My poor mum may have taken a vow of silence on that evening... she was at that dinner table too...
I could never understand why the church was so homophobic people are people (Depeche Mode comes to mind here)are they not?? Is not everyone "a child of God" in the eyes of God?
Moving right along one mid life unravelling later & half way through a non committed relationship with a yoga practice of sorts, mixed with severe black out style anxiety & overwhelming depression you can read that story here I started to put two & two together.... without using my iPhone... That yoga or asana practice was somehow making me feel better.
Eventually I committed a daily asana practice & wanting to understand what was going on i went on a quest, I would call this the beginning of my spiritual journey - Lots of which you see documented on Instagram FB & in these blogs - I am pretty transparent cause I think if I can have this level of happiness everyone should have access to it!! As a sharer of a life in yoga I am gonna share what ever I learn so you maybe don't have to go through so much BS or pain! You can check out & enquire about my transformation program here
What does spiritual practice look like for me?
Daily practice of making shapes on my yoga mat.
The goal of Yoga Asana is to lengthen the spine & soften the spaces in the joints & free us from things that bind us physically so that we may sit longer in meditation. This is why I breathe bend & flow. This is a spiritual practice for me yoking body to breath.
Yoga means to yoke to create union or find balance, it works for me.
This why I do the shapes, so that I can sit longer in contemplative stillness. In my previous blog which you can read here I wrote about creating space in meditation so that your connection to source, that place of authenticity & creativity has the opportunity to turn up & be heard .... Normally that guy is trapped behind the noise of your everyday life you literally cannot hear him scream over the cacophony of repetitive thoughts... You need to give your brain a break. Meditation is like brain camp.... you come back feeling refreshed & renewed!! This is a spiritual practice it connects you to source (God, a Higher Power, the Universe, your Higher Self)
Study & Self Enquiry
This is the but why part. Where we start to address whats gone on what is going on & how we change that patterning. Undoing old habits by learning to create new ones that lend them selves to us being happier souls. This self study takes on so many shapes & is different for everyone! If you are searching for something more the universe has said game on so get reading, talk to someone google some stuff & go on the journey. This is a spiritual practice its taking on a journey towards a goal of bringing you closer to authentic you which is source in its purest form we are all children of God, The Universe or Source. My study started with reading & then went to yoga teacher training not with the goal of teaching just a hunger to learn more I rediscovered my passion.
My journey to spirituality, took roughly 35 years after my first run in with Sr blah blah in primary school leaving mass early was apparently enough to send me to hell .... am pretty sure being late to school would have sent me to hell as well.
Things that I consider part of my spiritual journey today include mantra - I am often chanting to myself I love it it makes me feel good!, Yoga asana, sharing collective practice, meditation journaling, reading, my sacred space with my glow in the dark Ganesha(I love things that glow in the dark) dancing- it signals to me I am in a free & flow state.
Riding my scooter, yes really!!!! I feel like this connected me on another level to this beautiful island of Bali on which I live.... I am now experiencing every breeze, smell, back ways through rice fields connecting me in a far more authentic experience & it brings me JOY!! It also gives me access to way more amazing food experiences lol food for me is a spiritual experience :)
Your spiritual practice is deeply personal connected to your story, your journey & evolution. Go explore & experience things that draw your attention & try them on see if they fit, if it feels good & gives you a sense of peace & joy keep it in your spiritual tool box. If it doesn't thats ok too. The catholic church didn't align with my spiritual journey, however, yoga philosophy did there is no animosity just at acknowledgment that we are all the same just on different journeys.
Upon reflection, its interesting to me that I have kinda been on this path two or three times before... yet it was derailed for various reasons...
As a young dancer this was a spiritual practice to me I was connected to it cause it just brought me joy... Society said & my parents concurred that it was not a good source of income(it was the 80's)... But it was for me connection to Source & leaving it hurt. A lot.
The second time was a period of some 12 years of teaching aerobics this was creative energetic connection to source! I always felt free creative & joyous like I was in my right space.... I wasn't in balance though & I burnt out.
Then there was that period of time that is worthy of a mention cause I love to go to "the disco" & occupy the dance floor pretty much the whole dance floor lol... If you have seen me in action in this space- I can be super free & dance with complete abandon. I think some how this is connection to source!
The third time is now .... in my sharing of a life in yoga... This is absolutely the most balanced happiest space & time, where I feel a creative connection to my most authentic source. Perhaps it has something to do with me marking half a century in this lifetime today April 20.
I am extremely grateful.
To my teachers past present & future - those whom I have not yet met
To my students who are always my teachers
To the self for showing up & sharing the art of yoga.