Often when I’m teaching, I talk about the importance of having a daily spiritual practice, particularly if you are working with a specific deity or pantheon of gods. If deities are not really your thing, it might be too easy to dismiss the idea as something that’s not for you. However, a daily spiritual practice is not just good for your divine family, it’s good for you too. It can be the difference that makes a difference with regards to your mental health, as well as your physical health. It can also be the thing that keeps you on an even keel.
My most important daily spiritual practice is walking in nature. It’s something I do every morning without fail before I start work. In fact right now I’m dictating this article on my phone whilst walking in nature. These walks are crucial to me not only because they enable me to see what’s happening in nature right now - I can watch the seasons turning, I can see what birds are flying, what trees are in leaf (or not), I can watch the sunrise every morning over the moors - but as a practicing pagan it gives me the opportunity to really immerse myself in my spiritual practice. It also allows me thinking time. It’s often when I’m out walking that I’m running through ideas for classes in my head, or walking out knotty problems in my writing. And while I have a busy head, I also have to stop and remind myself to just plug-in and look at what’s around me.
Its moments like these that the world stops, my thoughts slowdown, and I can start to hear the insights that might be coming to me either from my higher self, a particular deity I’m working with, the universe in general, or my own inner voice. And it’s always facilitated by time in nature.
If you’re not a great walker, or you don’t have easy access to nature, a daily spiritual practice can be much more than that. It might be contemplative time spent at your altar. It might be time spent in the kitchen cooking, if that’s your passion. It might be time spent at an easel, drawing or painting, or it might also be spending time with your favourite tarot or Oracle deck, pulling a card to meditate on that day. It might be turning up your music as high as you can and dancing around your kitchen. The truth is a daily spiritual practice needs to be a joyous or peaceful thing, and doesn’t need to be a chore. It’s about connecting you with your own inner child and allowing it to play. The gods love nothing more than seeing us happy, or content, or joyous. If you’ve been in any of my classes where we’ve looked at the charge of the goddess, which is attributed Doreen Valente, you will know there is a line in it which says “And you shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy upon the Earth; my law is love unto all beings. “
Besides joy, daily spiritual practice also allows you that space to get really quiet, to pause in the frenetic pace of modern life, to slow down, and just listen. It allows you space to find that feeling of wonder, or enchantment with the world.
The truth is, whether you’re developing a relationship with a deity, or reconnecting and developing a relationship with your own inner self, it’s like any relationship - it takes time, and care.
So if you’re stuck trying to think of ways that you might develop your own daily practice, here are a few ideas to get you started. The key thing is to not make it a big deal. Don’t create yet one more thing for your to do list, just remind yourself it is playtime. Give yourself the gift of time to do something that’s just for you, and not for everyone else around you.
If you’re stuck for ideas about what a daily spiritual practice might look like, here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Walking in nature
Daily tarot or oracle card
Altar time (with optional poetry and prayer)
Yoga / swimming / other physical exercise
Carrying a crystal that you are working with
Random acts of kindness
Reading inspirational texts / poems
Unplug from the electronic / virtual world
Start your day as you mean to go on (make a choice about your feelings*)
Acts of service
Doing something you love - creative pursuits
* yes, you can choose not to be ruled by feelings. Its a subtle art in itself, but how you feel often reflects what you are thinking about, and as the saying goes, to shift your emotional state, change what you allow your thoughts to focus on.