What is your spiritual practice?

#MonthOfMinistry Day 10

There are quite a few different things that I’d consider to be “spiritual practice”. What does that even mean? For me it covers all those things that I do, with intention, to help me stop, rest in the present moment, connect with

The first is Quaker Meeting for Worship, our equivalent, perhaps, of a church service. There aren’t (usually) any prayers or hymns though, and there’s definitely not a priest or minister standing at the front giving a sermon! Instead, we meet for an hour, starting in silence, and sometimes we enjoy the silence for the whole hour. Often though, anyone who is moved to speak will stand up and say whatever they are led by the spirit to talk about. Anything can happen, and often it’s inspiring and moving in unexpected ways!

Worship? It’s a bit of an odd term, I think, as many Quakers these days don’t really see God as a separate person that we might worship in the conventional sense. For me it’s more about taking time to rest in that sense of connection that goes beyond our individual egos. I think this quote (which does use very theistic language) from one of the early 17th century Quakers expresses it well:

Give over thine own willing, give over thy own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and be in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of Life, which is its portion.

Isaac Penington, 1661

The second thing is my meditation practice: I like to sit and practice mindfulness and other Buddhist-based meditations for half an hour or so most mornings. I mostly use an app, as it helps to have a voice leading me. The one I use is called Waking Up, but there are plenty to choose from.

I’d also count time in nature as spiritual practice, walking in the forests and mountain and especially wild swimming! I went on a lovely week on Holy Isle near Arran last year which combined sitting out in nature with meditation – a wonderful chance to sink into awareness of my connection with the rhythms of the wild world.

Then there is yoga. I’ve been doing Iyengar yoga for about 40 years now, and of course it is good stretchy exercise! But more importantly it’s about settling into a deep stability and peaceful strength that goes much deeper than the physical body.

Finally, there is the practice of action in the world. For me that involves a lot of campaigning against war and against the destruction of our environment, and working to build alternatives. A lot of that is done along with Protest in Harmony, the political street choir I’m a member of – so singing is another dimension of spiritual practice.

Here’s a rock painting from Holy Isle which shows one of the Buddhist deities called Green Tara. She’s sitting mediating on a lotus throne, but you can see she has one leg stretched out, about to step forth to take action in the world, motivated by her great compassion!

Green Tara
Photo: secretlondon123

Main image of Quaker meeting: Craig Barnett

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