Let me preface this post by telling you that I am one of the least spiritual people you will ever meet.
I once (once!) attended a service at a Universal Unitarian church and when a stranger asked me about my ‘faith journey’ I turned inside out, fell on the floor, and slithered to my car like an embarrassed sea cucumber.
When people talk about the healing power of crystals I nod politely while thinking “But they’re really just pretty rocks, riiiiiiight?”
My feelings towards Krista Tippett are such that a friend once gave me her book as a gag gift, in much the same way you’d give a vegetarian a ‘Meat Of The Month’ membership.
I’ve always viewed religion and spirituality as a bit of an all-or-nothing game. Either you Believed In God or you didn’t. Either you burned sage and read tarot or you rolled your eyes over horoscopes.
Science or art.
Magic or pragmatism.
Only the here and now or … not.
This was until I heard of ‘contemplative practices.’ (And it pains me to say this but I heard about it from Krista Tippett.)
Contemplative practices “cultivate a critical, first-person focus, sometimes with a direct experience as the object, while at other times concentrating on complex ideas or situations. Incorporated into daily life, they act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful.”
So what does that, like, mean? How does someone – religious or not, spiritual or not – create a contemplative practice?
6 ways to find more meaning in life
You can meditate or center your mind on a single concept. You can quiet your mind by weeding the garden or making dumplings or changing the oil in your car. You can simply commit to spending the day alone, without speaking.
You can visualize the future you want for yourself or someone you love. You can create a Pinterest board of the wedding/business/trip you want. You can choose to reconsider an experience in a new light – you can choose to see the impermanence of your own opinions or interpretations. You can meditate with sweet, kind thoughts towards yourself, your people, or people who challenge and try your patience.
You can make music or art. You can journal. You can create dance moves to the new Drake song in your living room. You can take an improve class or sketch a new landscape plan or make a jelly bean mosaic of Dolly Parton.
You can make a pilgrimage to a place where social justice issues are highlighted – The Lorraine Motel in Memphis or The Stonewall Inn. You can work or volunteer in support of a cause that’s important to you. You can take part in a vigil or a march. You can bear witness. You can donate money.
You can organize a group to talk about things that are important to you – the environment, parenting, the arts. You can open a dialog with community leaders. You can listen – carefully, closely, without judgment – when people share their story. You can share important stories.
You can yoga or qigong or Aikido your heart out. You can practice walking meditation. You can go to a Pure Barre class with your best friend or run through the mountains as the sun rises. You can swim out to an island or row yourself to shore.
You can create a ‘sacred space’ – whether that’s an altar to a goddess or a chair near a window. You can go on a retreat. You can create meaning from a ritual you were raised with (prayers before bed, candles with dinner) or create your own (writing your regrets and burning them every New Year’s Eve.)
Our lives contract and expand in direct relation to our intentionality. Click To Tweet Life opens up when we actively consider what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. A full (and fulfilling) life doesn’t necessarily require church or prayers or crystals or vision boards.
All it requires is that you pay attention.
What’s your relationship with faith and spirituality? How do you add meaning to your life? Do you have any rituals or practices that you’ve found particularly meaningful?
P.S. If you need help or support finding more meaning in life, I can do that <3