I've been meditating daily. Sometimes I feel twitchy. Sometimes I get sleepy. Sometimes I feel completely unable to sit still, and just be. But I’m proud to say I’ve been sitting down (or sometimes lying down – that’s ok, right?) for meditation for 15-30 minutes almost every day this month.
Soggy Cement vs. Hard Cement
January traditionally is a month for focusing on new habits, or rituals, and Stretching Your Spirit was my habit of choice to zero in on this month. It’s one of the 12 Rituals that I've written about before.
If you want to focus on Stretching Your Spirit, then plan to practice a new ritual for 30 days. Some studies say that 21 days is all you need to cement a habit, but I find that my cement is still a bit soggy after only three weeks. I need a full month to make something a firm habit. I suspect this time varies from person to person. Experiment to discover how many days it takes before you do something on autopilot. You’ll know it’s a habit when you get a “something’s missing” feeling if you don’t do it, or if you find yourself doing it without realizing it.
Here are 3 rituals I have personally found to be amazing for stretching the spirit.
1. Meditation: a Sacred Stillness
The essence of meditation is presence. We make ourselves comfortable, and then tune in to what’s going on inside. Slowly, we let the brain-chatter die down, and we focus on our breath. Some find it helps to focus on a mantra, one word or phrase that calms the mind and gives it focus. When thoughts bubble up, as they often do, we let them pass without holding on. Without analysis. We return to our breath or our mantra. One of my favorite meditation resources has been the Oprah Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenges provided by the Chopra Center for free from time to time.
2. When the Spirit Moves the Body
Spirituality and movement go well together. Yoga helps calm the mind while stretching the body. The combination of a calm mind and a sense of well-being in the body can bring joy, a fact evidenced by the massive and ongoing popularity of the Yoga movement. It’s global. There’s a popular yoga center where I live in the developing country of Palestine. Another kind of moving meditation is one that I learned in Los Angeles: feminine movement. To learn more, I recommend taking a class in feminine movement, such as a belly dancing class or a sensual movement class. A moving meditation is a highly personal meditation often done alone. It can take the form of dance, Tai Chi, stretching, prayer or yoga. It’s an outward expression of an inward emotion: a desire to connect with the divine. You can witness a moving meditation in the way that Catholics stand up, sit down, and kneel during a celebration of Mass. You can also see moving meditation in the way that Muslims pray. The spirit moves the body, and the body moves the spirit.
3. a Powerful Partnership
While our friendships can certainly be a source of spiritual growth for us , setting an intention with one friend to pray for him or her can help us grow spiritually more than leaving things to chance. When two people mindfully share their desires, struggles, and intentions, and commit to praying for each other, amazing things can happen. Knowing someone is on your side, sending love to God on your behalf is incredible, and praying for someone else keeps us focused on what’s important. I have most valued my prayer partner when in the middle of making important life decisions. When looking for a prayer partner, seek someone who is nonjudgmental, optimistic, kind, and honest.
What do you think?
I hope these three rituals inspired you or gave you a new idea about how you’d like to stretch your spirit! Please comment below and share with us what top three rituals you have find most helpful for your spiritual growth.