Kelly-Ann Maddox has given me more food for thought ;P. You all know at this point that I have a bit of a girl-crush on her, but I can’t help it, her videos keep giving me these insights into what I’m doing here. I do keep up with other writers and bloggers, like Thorn Mooney and Áine Órga, but Kelly-Ann just keeps poking at things that I’m drawn to really think about. The most recent one was about spirituality and consistency.
Going with the Flow
I feel a bit bad when I don’t blog for a few months. This is the space where I really do a lot of focused study, and I do consider it to be part of my spiritual practice, though a much brainier part than a heart-centered part. But there has been a lot going on in my life, a lot of upheaval, and it wouldn’t have made sense to spend time blogging, really. I did keep working with my tarot cards fairly often (as often as I wanted to, not on any kind of schedule), and I paid attention to the moon cycles on and off, and I learned a bit more about the spiritual aspects of a woman’s menstrual cycle. I’m just realizing these things as I reflect back on the past few months 🙂 because when I came back to this blog, I looked at the most recent post from March, and thought “hoo boy, completely jumped off the wheel of the year there”.
But now I’m thinking, maybe that’s okay. For me, spirituality is something I’m pulled towards – it’s not usually present in my life unless I make space for it and make an effort to include it. I don’t know any other pagans offline, so I wouldn’t keep coming back to it if it wasn’t meaningful and powerful for me, if I didn’t miss it when it’s gone. Sometimes I’m struck with a passion or a need to touch that spirituality, and I think it’s good to follow those urges, rather than try to fit practices into a schedule. I fear that they could become chore-like; if I already have enough to do during the day, I don’t think it helps to feel bad about missing some devotional practice that I don’t have time for.
I’ve struggled with this when it comes to meditation lately. It’s so not easy to get myself to sit for ten minutes in the morning and gently train my brain to follow my breath :P. I know that it can be useful in so many different ways, for visualizations, living more mindfully, better mental health, etc; but it’s a bit like trying to get myself to take some uncomfortable medicine that I seem to survive okay enough without when I fall off the wagon. I know that consistency is good for a meditation practice, as it is training for your brain; you won’t see the same results if you only do it a few times a month. Maybe I need to have some kind of reward waiting for me at the end of each meditation session – maybe I should get a meditation chocolate bar or something, one square for each session ;).
One example where I feel like inconsistency doesn’t necessarily detract from my experience is journalling. I don’t journal every day; but when I do need to, I find it to be so very helpful. It’s a way for me to better understand my emotions, name them, and get ideas about other perspectives through which the situation can be seen. I’ve had a lot of powerful shifts through journalling, and I’ll keep coming back to it when I need to. But I don’t feel like it’s something that I need to do every day. When I try to stick to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, for instance, I end up not writing much, daydreaming, and getting bored; but when I’m going through an emotionally tumultuous time and I need to work through it, journalling helps me immensely. So for that particular practice, at this point in my life (having kept a journal for years on and off, something that came to me quite naturally), I don’t feel like I need to do it consistently for it to be an effective tool when I need it.
So, that’s one side of my feelings on the subject; I think it’s better not to worry too much about “missed” practices, and that following your passion is important. But after listening to Kelly-Ann, I am coming around to the idea that some level of consistency is a good thing.
Sticking with a Practice
This topic also reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing in Big Magic. She approaches her writing as a devotional practice, as communion with powers beyond her control and understanding, as a kind of spiritual practice in a way. And she talks about the importance of sticking with it, even when it doesn’t come easily, to get to the point where you do see results, when it does come easily. She makes the great point not to struggle through it too much either, even when it’s not easy; to appreciate the things you do love about it.
Kelly-Ann talks about how a consistent spiritual practice can help to support you in bad times, when you need something to fall back on. I’ve often seen that with Christians, who rely on their faith when faced with death or major challenges; the thought that God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle, the power of prayer, the faith that God will care for your eternal soul after death, and the souls of your loved ones. I can’t logically reconcile myself with many Christian beliefs, but maybe I can still find some sources of strength in the beliefs that I do hold (which are still being worked out, and may keep changing as long as I keep growing) and the practices I pursue.
She talks about the value of sticking with something every day for 6-8 weeks, no matter what you choose. I do like that idea 🙂 keeps me from being too flighty with my interests, skipping back and forth between each shiny new thing.
One more important point: the idea that daily spiritual practice can be a way of “accessing the strength in the core of yourself”, to prepare for the day ahead. Who do I want to embody today? A vision of myself in power, in full witch mode? 😉
So I think the common important themes here are to choose something that brings you strength (or that you think will bring you strength), and commit to it for a set amount of time, without double-guessing your choice of practice while you’re doing it.
For me, for the next six weeks, that practice will be working with archetypes. I’ll only commit to ten minutes of study and ten minutes of meditation to begin with, and I’ll have to see if that’s feasible with my current life; maybe the first week can serve as an adjustment period, after which I won’t abandon the project, but decide whether those time constraints are working or not. I think this work could be most useful and could serve me most in my current situation, so I’m looking forward to trying it out. I’ll keep notes in a draft on here, though I may not have anything that’s ready to share for a little while. And yes, I think I will positively reinforce my work with a bite of chocolate or two. 😉
When it comes to consistency, I think the bottom line is, don’t feel too guilty when life gets in the way of spiritual practice. We all need to do whatever we need to do to survive, and sometimes work or relationships or health or whatever it is needs your full attention. But I do think that pursuing a regular practice can be beneficial; can give you something to fall back on when all other supports aren’t there for you.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with spiritual practice and consistency. Are some practices easier to maintain than others? What keeps you coming back? What helps you most in your times of need?