“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I have heard of people experiencing, seemingly out of the blue, a profound awakening in which everything shifts internally in such a way that they are never the same again. Where they see the Truth and gain a profound spiritual understanding that alters them forever. Usually, this means their ego loses its hold on their life and they live from pure love and peace after that. I admit that there are many times I have wished this was my path. To have some life situation break all my inner walls down in one fell swoop, giving me the ability to see the truth without my having to do anything. Alas (sigh), I do believe that the majority of us transform profoundly through consistent practice and work. We may have painful experiences that open the door of transformation for us. After which, continual application of practices create a tipping point internally in the way we think, feel and perceive ourselves, in our relationship to Spirit and our place in the world. In this way, a daily or consistent practice can be said to be the bread and butter of the transformational journey. It keeps us prepared inwardly to use every seemingly challenging situation as an opportunity for deeper transformation.
I love the term “miracle-minded” that I shared in the last post from Marianne Williamson. It’s such a shift from how I’ve spent most of my life thinking about myself and my experiences. I was taught well in the art of suffering and struggle, as I know many of us were. When we’re growing and evolving into new ways of being we are moving from limited perceptions of how life is against us or we are being punished to expanded perceptions where we see that life is always for us and challenging us to cultivate miracle-mindedness. We ask for inner change (sometimes subconsciously) because we’re deeply dissatisfied with the way we feel and experience life, and then the Universe gives us exactly the experience we need to create that change. Because our ability to perceive is limited to the way we have always looked at things, though, we don’t see what we’re being given. We don’t see this opportunity that we have asked for. We have to do the work when the opportunity shows up.
Through practice, we are more able to see these situations for exactly what they are when they show up. Then we say, “ah here is my opportunity to practice what I’ve been learning and to bring forth in me exactly what I’ve been wanting to experience.” That shift in perception is the miracle that opens the door to a new way of life. Then whatever has come forth in order for us to practice, is used exactly for what it was meant, and most likely the situation itself shifts without too much external effort on our part.
What is this practice that creates a space within our hearts and minds where we’re ready to be transformed through each arising opportunity? It may look different for each person but at its core it’s the ways in which we know and remember our connection to the greater Source of life. A daily practice is key to the inner work of transformation. Those of us who know there really is no other alternative if we want to live authentically with purpose in a deep and rich way, know daily practice is essential. Daily practice can be meditation, prayer, affirmation, study, creative expression, physical exercise, daily intentions, writing, forgiveness practice, emotional clearing, etc. It can be any combination of these techniques and others that allows us to bring our inner world to a space of being wherein we are able to be miracle-minded when that situation or experience shows up in our world. We then can see it as the avenue for healing that it really is, and we now have tools and understandings to apply in such situations to allow the healing to occur. It steadily frees us inwardly of all of the walls around our true self. It is sort of our spiritual, emotional, and mental pantry. Ready when we need to whip something up because unexpected visitors have come by.
So, what is your daily practice (and maybe it’s not so daily but at least consistent)? Here are some of mine. They keep me connected, set the inner stage, and help me correct where my thoughts are faulty or where my emotional buildup needs cleansing.
Morning affirmative prayer and intention setting for the day
Reading of a daily meditative thought
Daily forgiveness and clearing
Nightly meditation and prayer
Attending service at my chosen spiritual center
These are sort of my staples and then I may feel like I need some extras or something more elaborate to go deeper. Maybe then I buy the gourmet ingredients or ask someone to help, and I spend more time in the inner kitchen creating a greater transformative experience.
What is your bread and butter?