Thursday, December 16, 2010

What is Spiritual Practice Anyway?

One of the gifts of being part of the Spiritual Care Network team is that ever so often I have the opportunity to gather with a group of clergy and talk about how I am caring for myself spiritually and how we can assist others in spiritual care. These meetings and conversations are rich and nurturing and although I usually go in wondering how I am going to make up for the lost time I find myself refreshed just by being in the room.

Today was one of those days - I had the opportunity to be “Rudolf” as I drove the carpool from Horseshoe Bay to the conference office.

The reality was that most of us were a bit flippant, cheeky and a little sassy throughout the day but we forgave one another (after all it is the week before Christmas and the stress level in the room and car was at times palpable).

And yet this brassy little group found themselves in deep conversation on our way home when the questions were asked. “What is spiritual practice?” “What counts as spiritual practice?” “Am I wrong that I don’t understand shopping as spiritual practice?” “Is that my egoic-self?” “Is there a difference between being nourished and spiritual practice?” We pondered the differences between extroverted and introverted spirituality throughout the day. But we also wondered what makes it spiritual practice?

For myself I think it’s about intention. In the conversation I recognized that I consider yoga (most of the time) spiritual practice but not kick boxing. I often say skiing is one of my practices and yet I wouldn’t say that about dragon boating. I love all of these sports - each of them nurture me and yet when I breath deeply and meditate in yoga - I intentionally connect with The Holy and yet in kickboxing... well..... If I’m honest I just want to ‘kick-butt’ (please don’t judge me). When I ski I am almost always in awe and yet when I dragon boat the moments of awe are an added bonus if they occur.

For me practice involves intention. It is not that these other things don’t nourish. But if I fail to be intentional in my connecting with the holy I am sure to notice every once and a while that it has been a very long time since I talked with my God other than in a leadership role. That’s just what I have discovered within myself. I would love to hear what spiritual practice means for you. What does it look like? How do you know it’s a spiritual practice? (I encourage you to share with us your practices).

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