Year-End Reflections for Enlivening Our Spiritual Practice

The things we care about most require a long view. They are longings that we build toward, not cravings we gratify in a minute or a day. Consider goals like establishing better health through diet and exercise; or getting better at regulating emotions during stress; or increasing our skills in creative pursuits like art, music or sports. The fulfilling things in life come from consistent effort that builds capacity over time.

That holds true for spiritual development. If we want to access deeper levels of consciousness, become more loving, feel gratitude more abundantly or connect more fully with our soul, then we need spiritual practices that support these aspirations.

I think of spiritual practice as Activity + Intention:  a regularly repeated activity that we undertake with the intention to connect with the Sacred. As we change and grow over time, our spiritual practice must change as well to meet us where we are on the journey.

The end of the year is a traditional time to reflect on our lives, integrate lessons learned and look ahead to the future. It’s a good time to reexamine our spiritual practice and see what needs tending. Here are things I am considering as I look at my own practice in the coming year.

Do something every day, no matter how small. I am fairly committed to a regular practice. (“Fairly.” That’s a good wiggle word.) By that, I mean I engage in spiritual practice on most days. In the coming year, I want to commit to doing something every single day, even if it is to write one sentence in my journal or sit in meditation for 1 minute. (“Want to?” More wiggle room.) OK, I hereby publicly commit. Check me on this next December.

Try something new. I have kept a steady journaling practice for many years and find it a powerful way to gain insights and connect the dots floating in my mind. But it sometimes feels stale. This year, I am adding a twist:  journaling a list of single words in a stream of consciousness, slowly allowing more words to arise by association. I am curious to see what emerges from this experiment.

Rotate between modes of practice. We each migrate toward practices that match our natural tendencies. I am comfortable with intellectual, emotional and body-based modes, so I like practices that activate those realms. I read books, study texts, attend to my emotional intelligence, and emphasize bodily sensations in my meditations. But there are other modes of practice worth trying. This year, I am exploring an energetic mode by developing my sense of the subtle energies that run through me, around me, and between me and other people.

Hone my powers of observation. Awareness is a cornerstone skill. It carries the weight of our spiritual lives. Without an ever-expanding capacity for awareness, we cannot grow spiritually. No matter what else is going on in my day, I try remember to periodically pause and fall back from my immediate task into a larger scope of awareness. I commit to giving this pause greater importance in the months ahead.

Do any of these ideas seem useful in enlivening your own practice? Have they sparked your thinking in new directions? Capture your ideas in writing and see which of them want to come out to play with you this year.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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