I tend toward busy-ness. If I let auto-pilot take over and I’m not paying attention, over-busy is what happens around here. I have a way of generating tasks and activities so that I get the satisfaction of checking something off of a list, even if the list is kind of lame. I guess this stems from an early-childhood belief that if I’m busy, I’m also productive, though this has not proven to be true.
Staying busy is also a way that I avoid stuff I don’t want to feel or I put off things I don’t want to do. “How can I possibly take on a self-improvement project? I’m already overwhelmed.” If I’m working under low-grade anxiety about getting everything done or always anticipating what comes next, then I don’t have much space to contemplate a conversation in which I was careless or to address the nagging feeling that I’m steering off my path. I just keep moving.
I received this comment from Sept. 17th’s post, ‘We are all trying to figure out how to suffer less.’ “At least for me, to find and follow a real spiritual path takes a LOT of work and time – sifting through all the stuff that gets in the way – with constant attention and discipline.” When expressed in this way, I think spiritual practice sounds too hard to tackle amidst what’s already a busy and full life. And yet, that hasn’t been my experience.
A balanced, meaningful, and spiritual life doesn’t come from generating busy work or accomplishing 100 tasks every day. More is not better. I’m most satisfied with my life when I can listen and laugh with my girls or be totally tuned in when my husband comes in for a sweet hug and kiss. I get a really good connected feeling from pulling weeds and taking care of my garden. This stuff requires stillness, presence, and time and an ability to sift through all the stuff that gets in the way, as KP says so beautifully. Yes it does.
KP is right. Following a spiritual path does take effort. Some regular practice is necessary. A yoga practice, time spent in prayer, reflective writing… these are some of the ways we take to connect to something higher. Even though there’s some effort and time involved, there’s something special about time devoted to one’s spiritual life. Meaningful time spent in this way pays back by offering a more mindful, and present me during the rest of the day. Because I take the time to be conscious and intentional in the morning, I’m less likely to feel like I have to hustle. I have less anxiety. On the best days, I’m focused, present, and more aware.
This time spent connecting with a peaceful presence and in self-reflection sets us up to have days in which we are more peaceful and self-aware. We might aim for constant attention in our activities, but a gradual approach is probably a better way to develop a spiritual practice. We progressively develop patterns of attention so the reflexive and habitual responses don’t run on auto. This takes time and practice. But the practice is a part of the day. How we spend our time and approach our daily tasks becomes a part of our spiritual path.