Six months ago I embarked on a new segment of my journey by joining a new spiritual training. After this short time I’ve already gained a deeper understanding of the role of daily ritual in a spiritual life. I’ve also observed that I get a lot more out of my practice when I follow certain guidelines. Since I know that you might also have a daily spiritual practice (or be contemplating one), I thought you might benefit from what I’ve learned.
First, let’s get clear on the purpose of a daily spiritual practice. Your answer might be “to be more spiritually centered.” While that wouldn’t be wrong, here’s a better answer: to master your mind.
Remember: Your spiritual connection is already complete and eternal. It’s only the emotions and limited belief of your egoic mind (or if you prefer to call it, subconscious or unconscious mind) that interferes with your perception of your spiritual connection.
The significance of a daily ritual is that it gives you a controlled space in which to practice exerting your will over your egoic mind. I can’t tell you how many mornings I would’ve much rather crawled back into bed, but I know that if I can’t exert my will in such a relatively small way, how can I ever expect to fulfill my deepest desires and Divine Will in my life?
As I’ve built up my daily ritual, I’ve noticed certain habits that make it more effective in silencing the gremlin and making my practice more impactful. They boil down to these three:
1. Your practice can only be as sacred and magical as you let it be.
Going through the motions of a ritual isn’t what creates the magic; it’s all about your intention. If you rush in and rush through the process, you won’t get much out of it.
Before I enter my temple room I must pause and collect myself as if I’m about to enter a sacred space – because I am! At first I brushed off the importance of this, but now that I do it consistently I can feel how this pause influences the tone of the whole session.
But as Mary Poppins said, “Well begun is half done.” As you proceed through your practice, it’s important to maintain the same reverence that you began with. That means gently redirecting your focus back to your ritual when your mind wants to start going through your to-do list or writing an article that you were just inspired with. (That happened to me with this one.)
You will actually notice a difference in your ritual when you’re more present; for me it’s a tangible feeling of energy flow and expansion. And remember that your egoic mind will try to keep you from having that experience. But eventually, as you continue to demand focus from yourself, you will retrain your mind to feel safe in providing it.
2. Give your practice the time that it requires.
I struggled to be consistent with my practice until I started designating the time on my calendar. Even then, I didn’t necessarily go into my temple space at the stated time, but at least I was mindfully postponing instead of forgetting. Sometimes those postponements (little tricks of my ego that they were) put me in the position where I had to choose between squeezing in temple time and being on time for an appointment.
But here’s the crazy, wonderful thing that happens: Every time I’ve chosen to stop and do my practice first – and I mean EVERY time – something has happened on the other end to eliminate the conflict: The person I was supposed to meet got lost, or the practitioner had a client before me who needed more time. It always works out. And after all, isn’t that part of why we do spiritual practices – so that we can be more aligned with the Universe to experience ease and synchronicity?
3. Decide what your ritual is and stick to it.
Be consistent not only in the schedule of your practice but also in what it entails. Your spiritual practice can be anything you want it be: meditation, chanting, singing, dancing…You can use candles, incense, chimes. You can even drink blood if that’s your thing.
What’s important is that once you choose your ritual, you stick to the plan. Not because there’s anything magical about the candle or the song, but because anytime you decide “I don’t need to light the incense today,” for example, you’re letting yourself be influenced by the egoic mind that you’re working to master. Every time you choose to perform the ritual as prescribed, you’re exerting your will.
Now that I’ve shared these tips with you, let me ask: Which of them do you already follow consistently? Which ones do you regularly struggle with?
And what could you do today to take your spiritual practice to the next level? I would love to hold space for your new level of commitment, so please share in the comments below.