These times have drawn out of me the thread of a way of being that has always been there yet I have seldom made best use of it. Perhaps the very word was the stumbling block; the way our concept of “religious” has been hijacked but cultural associations and yet all this has nothing whatever to do with going to church. Our attention has been drawn from this crux (as in, pivot-point) to true-divine living…by reverse aversion therapy; compelled to be suspicious of that which would serve us well, through these and any other challenging times.
Because the religious practice I speak of is to do with devotion…to one’s self, one’s life…and the conscientious, faithful practice of observances that affirm one’s existence as spirit in human form (a long way around of saying “health”); and on this topic I have much to say.
To me, then, the religious practice that is wanting to assert looks like this:
It’s the practice of being kind and thoughtful to myself and others.
Of seeking the positives, pursuing them daily. To step up to the “practice” of this (not just the good intention…), I’ve initiated a daily photo challenge whereby I consciously set out (not just when the mood takes me…) to take uplifting pictures and share them on social media at least once a day; a practice that both serves myself and, it seems, countless others, if their messages of heartfelt gratitude are any indication. For me, it gets me off my chair, out of my mood and focuses me on those abundant “positives” out there in the natural world, where everything is just so life-affirming.
Of sticking to my daily yoga practice (likewise, my husband has, finally, started his home practice after years of “sticking” on this one point whilst being almost addicted to attending public classes). I will add that this category can include any and all of the sacred practices you may pursue (or intend to pursue) in order to ground and centre one’s self, connecting with higher source, clearing the energy field of other “stuff” that is not ours and other “energy medicine” methods (I use Donna Eden’s daily routine) and so on. Now is the moment to make time for these various practices we have picked up along the way, it’s important and it’s powerful…at both the start of the day and, equally before sleep.
Of using my steam vaporiser once or twice a day to clear my sinuses and lungs (since I don’t have access to a steam sauna, though I do have an infrared sauna…so I intend to appreciate and use that more often too).
Of practising the Wim Hoff breathing techniques, every day!
Of using and taking all of the most appropriate herbal teas and supplements every day (not just “when I remember”), and keeping on top of my stock levels, even though this has become more challenging in recent weeks due to demand. These natural healing methods are only as powerful as our resolve to use them in our lives and this one was due for an overhaul in mine…so a tick list is now proving very useful.
Of appreciating just how much knowledge I have gathered on the topic of these natural resources over the years…and taking time to further evolve my understanding of them, including the healing power of food…taking the time to prepare healthy meals that meet the body’s needs (and not just making do with whatever I can “be bothered” to throw together or warm up).
Of sitting down to appreciate every mouthful of those meals…not multitasking, grateful for all those individuals who got that food to my mouth and for the fact I am one of the fortunate ones who is OK for another day; not in a fearful way but from a sense of deep knowing “the universe has my back, life continues, all is well”.
Of making a daily practice of keeping my home well cared-for, performing routine tasks that keep it tidy, clean and pleasant to be in. Done in a steady, mindful and appreciative way, these one-time irksome necessities for which there never seemed to be enough time and energy before are rapidly turning into a new form of pleasure and a celebration of all that is positive about those places where we spend most of out time. I’ve had to turn down outside help, for now, yet find myself contemplating ways that I could continue to take over even the more physical tasks for myself, going forwards, even with my physical limitations, if done in a different way and turned into a kind-of self care therapy that brings deep satisfaction. Major adjustments to how we are having to use our newly confined space so three of us can live-and-work here (including one of us, not me, in full isolation for the time being due to recent exposures) is also initiating new thoughts about what is important and long-term improvement that could be made…all positive stuff.
Of moving the body at regular intervals as a boost to wellbeing and core health (in which context the last point is so useful)….doing stretches, adjusting the posture, keeping body fluids moving and joints strong, however painful they might be (in fact, this makes it even more important).
Of going out for my daily walks…consciously, working to stay present, not just dragging a head-full of problems out with me or forgetting to look up at the view (my photo challenge…taking a camera with me every day…has really helped with that). In this, I include the religious practice of being aware, of noticing, of encouraging the kind of stillness that allows experiences to come to me more so than forcing them to play out my way.
Of allocating time for creative pursuits, and for just listening to music, staying present with bird song (which I can now hear, so much better, with the roads so very quiet…another point of gratitude) and for encouraging my inner child to explore new things.
Of taking time to nurture the body, with a soak in the bath, a sauna, some yoga nidra, an audio or guided meditation to listen to, some time spent dozing in a sunny chair, a self-massage, lighting some candles, applying natural products that make me feel great, watching a favourite film, video or program, time to nap or a lie down with a book for a while…and so on. These things are a deeply religious practice too, once made conscious and offered to yourself as that gift of self-nurturance.
Likewise, of taking 15 or 30 minutes of planned “void” time, to do nothing at all; to just stop, breathe, stay present, empty the mind…allowing that extra long pause for the moment to unfold rather than rushing onwards to the next part of my day.
Of allowing the niggle or worry to be pushed aside until morning or a later time; prioritising those observances of self-care that I have put in place and not allowing them to be so easily steamrollered by a stray fragment of news or some domestic crisis that crops up, assuming its not so very urgent. Holding the state of inner calm according to my timetable and proportional distribution (I will show concern when there is something I need to be concerned about, that needs handling right now…but will not give my whole day over to ceaseless worrying and overwhelm…) is a primary observance in this list of many.
Of appreciating everything….always looking for the upside….noting how much there is to be grateful for, and when I’ve done that
…saying thank you once again
Noticing just how many resources we already have is a practice in itself. I am finding, during this lockdown, that I have just so many resources, not just herbs and access to alternate therapies in my house but internal ones; resources that can be the life-coach to me, setting up the very best of daily home-practices for a lifestyle that seems golden, now I am into it. Better than any “retreat” another person could ever have prepared for me, I find I have the ability to structure a routine that would sound idylic in some brochure, and all from the comfort of my own home, with my own spaces and ambient lighting and books and comforters…not to mention loved ones around me. We all have these resources, these tools we’ve gathered, the skillsets we’ve picked up, the preferred ways we’ve evolved our style of living over all the years of our lives…and now is the time to bring them all together, into the daily practice of all practices; the inner, core work of our lives. This, I suspect, will be one of the primary gift many of us will take back out into our new lives, once this phase is over. Without outside distractions, we get to really hone how best to support our own way of being in our bodies and in the world and this is the beginning of all healing.
Also, like many of you, I have my plate full with adjusting to a new way of life, more family members in a confined space seven days a week (yet I’m so grateful to have my daughter safely home, my husband still able to run his business remotely) plus my health worries…but all of these additional stresses make the observance of these practices more, not less, important.
Taking time out to appreciate all of this that I have written about is, also, a religious practice worthy of concerted effort (scheduling time to write down our thoughts, what we notice, what we are thankful for, is a very powerful religious observance, whether we share with the world or not). Through it, we get to more deeply appreciate all the resources we have, to notice the excuse to draw on them and to realise the innate power of choice that sits at the centre of our lives.
Ironically, I’ve always been the maverick, the shirker or rules…insistent upon doing things my very own way. Yet I am also the typical Asperger’s with a need for routine, a powerfully-positive response to predictable rhythms (since these calm my nervous system and enable me to be at my best) and so, I discover, these two aspects can now come together as a team…to make up the unique yet diligent daily practices that best serve me (which is the best that each of us can do for ourselves, right now). The upshot of all this is that, paradox of all paradoxes, I find I am religious after all but, as ever, done my very-own way and the gift is that it serves me (and those around me) …just as much as I serve it. A gift indeed.
Though intially intended to share with my personal Facebook and Instagram friends, you can also view my growing collection of daily positives HERE on Flickr where I am compiling an online album.
Nature constantly reminds us how we are opening up…just as we think we are closing down; and how to be still and yet achieve very much (amongst other things).