We Here, And You Talkin’ Bout Practice

Every single year, around December 31st (give or take a few days), many of us begin to think about what we’ve accomplished that year, and what we want to do the following year. Some people set resolutions (I’ve written a post about that in the past), others abhor the thought of resolutions and “resolve” to not set them. I just tell myself that I’ll be better than I was, not just the year before, but the day before too. I firmly believe that every day, hell, every minute, is an opportunity to become a better version of yourself. This new year, I’ve given myself a myriad of goals, but I’ve also decided to establish a daily practice as well, since we all know that repetition creates habits, so make them healthy ones! There are four steps of my daily practice in particular that I personally feel will help improve me as a person and also keep me present and focused.

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Prayer or meditation. It’s important to either start or end your day with some quiet time, where you can either set your intentions for the day, or reflect on all that has happened. I actually do both now, but as of late, I’ve been more of a reflection person. The problem I encountered with just focusing on what had already happened is that I failed to ensure my days would go the way I wanted them to. Life was happening too fast, and I saw that I was becoming a person that things happened to, instead of one that was making them happen. I decided that this year I would bring my morning affirmations and intentions back, and although it’s only been a week, I already feel a difference in how I conduct my days. I also pull an affirmation card or two during this time, and then read it when I begin my journaling.

Journal your thoughts. Once I’ve gone through my quiet time, I immediately begin writing down whatever hit my spirit, or what words stuck out the most (Sidenote: this is also helpful when you’re reading something and want to make sure you remember it. Each time you’re done reading, or after each chapter, just jot down a few words or sentences to help the information stick in your head). For instance, the words “love”, “service”, and “success” keep popping up. I use those words to explore what they could mean for me in my life, and make sure I jot them down asap.

Photo courtesy of Donald Darling, www.donalddarling.com

Read something spiritual. You don’t have to be a part of any organized religion to read something spiritual. Even if you are an atheist, you can find many jewels in different religious and spiritual texts that may speak to your heart and make sense to you in that moment of reflection. I like to read various texts, whether it’s the Bible, a book on spirituality, or the Tripitaka. Just find something that you feel will feed your, spiritually, and move on from there.

Then, journal THOSE thoughts. Once I’ve read something, I’ll either write out what I read, or write a short synopsis. I then like to try and connect it to my meditation and my writings from earlier. In most cases, I find a similar theme ringing loud in my mind, and that’s what I believe is the answer to any questions or doubts I may have. I also use this for guidance and clarity, so I can focus my energy in a positive and fruitful way.

It’s important to not just start a practice for the sake of doing so, if you don’t think it’ll be helpful. You don’t want all of that meditation and writing to be without purpose, so if you create one, be intentional in your actions. Ask yourself why you need one, what you hope to gain from it, and how you should structure it. All of that takes me about 15-20 minutes a day, and if nothing else, it has gotten me to sit down and spend time with myself. I could spend that time scrolling on Instagram, looking at other people presumably living their best lives, or I can take just 3% of my day to make sure that I’m living mine, as authentically as possible.

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