My Practice

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to create a practice. I’m happy to say that it is slowly evolving.

For whatever reason, my sons are sleeping late this summer, and I am not. I have been waking around six most days. With a hot cup of coffee, I head to my office and open the window so I can watch the sun rising. I start my practice with a short reading from Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpse of the Divine for Daily Meditation and Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hahn. These readings are no more than a few lines each. One is primarily from the Western tradition, while the other is Eastern. I like beginning my day with that balance.

Once I finish my short reading, I delve into one or two of several books:

The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom
The Rhythm of the Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons
20th Century Poetry and Poetics
Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity
Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery
Take Ten for Writers: 1000 Writing Exercises to Build Momentum in Just 10 Minutes a Day
A Year of  Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement

Something in these books speaks to me. I seem to be searching for some link between spirituality and creativity and the nature world. To be honest, I’m not sure where this is leading, but I find myself repeatedly drawn to the interplay of these themes.

At first, I was troubled by the fact that I have such a long list of books. However, this is working for me. It may take forever for me to finish any one book, but I suspect that finishing is not the point. I read a selection from whichever ones call to me on a given day. I attempt to focus on the writing in the tradition of lectio divina.

When I finish my reading, I write a bit. I hope to paint as well in the future.

I round out my time by either swimming laps for 50 minutes or working out on my elliptical for 30 minutes. Ideally, I would like to increase my time on the elliptical to 50 minutes and add in a short yoga sequence.

I’m really enjoying this routine, and I’m happier on the days that I practice. I suppose that tells me that I’m on to something.

Another Fantastic Paintner Quote

From Christine Valters Paintner’s The Artist’s Rule:

“When we let go of our desire to be clever or successful or to create beautiful things, we may begin to be open to the sacred truth of our experience as it is, not how we want it to be.”

My Plan for the Summer

I’m in a happy place at the moment. I’ve cleared my deck of most significant obligations and put others on hold. In their absence, I am hoping to take the next few weeks of summer to establish a sort of healthy, spiritual, creative practice that will sustain me when life’s obligations pick up again.

My practice will have three components: physical (exercise & diet), spiritual, and creative. I know my practice can’t be elaborate, or I wont be able to maintain it. I just hope to create making a small space for each of these aspects of my life each day.

I hope to post as my practice evolves.

Great Quotes

From Christine Valters Paintner’s The Artist’s Rule:

“John Daido Loori, the author of The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life, writes: ‘The creative process, like a spiritual journey, is intuitive, non-linear, and experiential. It points us toward our essential nature, which is a reflection of the boundless creativity of the universe.’ Creativity and contemplative spirituality nurture and support each other in their commitments to slow the way, to a close attention to the inner life, and to the sacred being revealed in each moment. When I use the word ‘artist,” I include poets, writers, cooks, gardeners, and people who use all manner of creative expression; we are all called to be artists of everyday life.”

A paragraph later, Paintner writes:

“The transformation comes from engaging in the work, of practicing being present to the moment and what it has to teach you about yourself, your creative process, and God. Showing up each day with gentleness and compassion is the heart of the path.”

Bird Feeder / Planter

Bird Feeder/Planter

I’ve tried taking this picture three times now. I give up. You get the idea. 🙂

The boys gave me this bird feeder/planter for Mother’s Day. Now, I realize that living on several acres, this really shouldn’t be my big accomplishment in gardening, but it is for right now. The boys built it for me a week or two ago, and I finished it off with plants and bird food this week. I can see it from my kitchen window and love watching the birds (and squirrel!) go crazy for the feed.

It’s all about enjoying the little things!