Time. Is there ever enough time to work on spirituality? I was talking to a woman last night about finding time for spiritual practices. She said that she is devoted to a spiritual life, citing many instances where she has been able to be of service to others and focus on spiritual training, such as retreats, workshops, Sunday sermons, and community service projects. Then she explained that she wishes she had more time for these activities, but finds that work, cleaning the house, and raising her two boys takes up too much time.
Time is not on her side. She has a point of view where time is the enemy, eating away at opportunities for spiritual endeavors. The various parts of her life are set up on a schedule. There is a time for work, a time for play, a time for shopping, cooking, cleaning…etc. All these activities consume her time and leave little left for spiritual work. In her story of life, time is not on her side.
What if we believe a different story, and adopt the motto, “Time is on our side”? Is it possible to work, cook, clean, walk, talk on the phone, and run errands, and still focus on our spiritual growth? Yes, because time is on our side. There’s no need to reschedule daily activities. We can do our spiritual homework at the same time by taking steps to master our attention. By consciously observing thoughts, verbal exchanges, and moods we steadily work towards heightened awareness. A favorite exercise of mine is developing a working meditation while doing chores. For example, washing the dishes. As I’m washing my thoughts are scattered and have nothing to do with what I’m doing. By becoming aware of this I can consciously pull myself into the moment, where I can simply focus on washing dishes, thus freeing my mind of mental chaos. This type of hyper presence becomes a working meditation. Another spiritual exercise is being aware of the energy and intent behind the words we’re saying in conversations. Ask yourself, “Am I saying what I mean?” “Do I know the intent behind what I’m saying?” “Am I involved in gossip?” “Could I make an effort to be kinder, more tolerant, and less judgemental?” These are just a few of the many ways to bring spiritual training into our everyday lives. Have fun creating and practicing your own exercises. Since time is on your side, why not use it?
With practice, every activity can become a spiritual work through heightened awareness. I do admit that spiritual retreats, workshops, services, and books are often necessary catylists for renewing spiritual passion. They can definitely spark your level of devotion and aid in understanding basic concepts, but it is in daily practice, moment to moment, that will actually propel us on the path.
Laura Barrette Shannon