Forward Friday: Create your own spiritual practice
This week we’ve been talking about finding spiritual practices within daily life, in everything from flossing to breathing. In the words of Rob Bell, everything is spiritual.
This weekend, take some time to create your own spiritual practice.
It doesn’t have to be hard work. We breathe without any intentional effort and only stop breathing with concerted effort and for an extremely limited time. So, too, spiritual practice can be just as natural and even just as involuntary.
All it takes is desire and decision.
Find a practice that feels natural to you. Maybe it’s taking a daily walk, reading a morning Psalm, making dinner, driving to work, or breathing. Make it something that is already part of your natural routine, something that you can use to call your attention to the holy and sacred in the normal pace of life.
Whatever it is, decide to make that activity — however innocuous or normal it may seem — your invitation to the Holy Spirit.
Try it and see what happens.
Then come back and share your spiritual practice in the comment box below.
The Spiritual Practice of Breathing
Spiritual rhythms are like bodily rhythms: respiration requires both inhaling and exhaling, taking in and letting go. – Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction
Breathing is perhaps the oldest and most widely accepted spiritual practice that involves the whole mind-body-spirit being. Aside from Buddhist and Zen uses of focused breathing to enhance mediation, Christians have long used breathing as prayer practice, perhaps the most well known of which is the Jesus Prayer.
The Jesus Prayer is a simple, repetitive prayer to be used as you breathe in and out:
Inhale: Lord Jesus, Son of God,
Exhale: have mercy on me, a poor sinner.
A simple Google search of “Jesus Prayer” pulls up a number of very helpful descriptions and guides for breath prayer, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. What I want to point out is this:
We have been created for rhythm and ritual, repetition and regularity. Just as our bodies depend on the pattern of heartbeat and inspiration/expiration to function and remain alive, so our spiritual selves depend on patterns of spiritual practice to function and remain alive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
This is who we are. We are mind-body-spirit beings. We are creatures of habit. We are soothed by the rhythmic sound of rain or waves. We reduce stress with slow, steady breathing and periodic times of quiet.
We meet God in the most ordinary, uninspired moments. We come alive with the breath of God. God comes to walk with us in the garden, to enjoy our company in the cool of the evening. All we have to do is be available and attentive, recognize the presence of God in our daily experience, and open ourselves to the tingly rinse of the Holy Spirit within us.
It’s as easy and natural as breathing in and out and in. It’s who we are. It’s who we’ve been created to be.
Next time the world feels like it’s crashing in on you, next time you’re stressed out and rushing, next time it all feels like too much — take a moment, and breathe.