“I’ve been walking my energetic puppy every morning for the last six months, and I’ve lost 10 lbs!” enthused a friend recently. When I asked for further details, this woman explained that she’s been pulled at the end of a leash for 30 minutes every morning since a young, hyperactive canine came into her life. The vigorous walking and the daily, repetitive nature of the exercise is what has gotten her into great shape.
It got me to thinking about the benefits of a daily practice.
Whether your goal is losing weight, achieving mastery of a skill, building a business or seeking a closer connection with Source, the greatest benefits come after many months - or years - of steady, daily efforts. A steady practice builds our skills and expertise. Generally, it’s only after sustained effort that come spectacular results.
I worked with a man who, on the eve of his company’s fabulously successful initial public offering, said, “We’ve worked nine years to become an overnight success.” Inherent in his droll witticism is the truth that you may toil for a long time without seeing the fruits of your labor. Just like nature’s fruits, the fruits of your labor take time to flower, form and ripen before they can be harvested.
The same can be said for the inner life or the spiritual journey. Habits such as a short daily mediation or prayer time pay off in the long run, resulting in greater personal serenity, increased emotional control, the ability to step back from the daily drama to see the big picture and the grace to perceive the Divine presence in your life. The benefits of a daily spiritual practice are great, but they don’t necessarily show up right away. Yes, there can be peak moments in life, but the more you practice listening to the still, small voice, the more you open to the sacred essence in each moment.
The trick is to enjoy the daily, steady practice.
What can you do to have a daily, steady spiritual practice? All it takes is 5-10 minutes a day on a consistent basis. Everyone has 5-10 minutes a day! If your inner life is important to you, you’ll want to put a high priority on that sacred time.
What you do in that daily 10 minutes is up to you. You will be naturally drawn toward a type of devotion that suits you, and you may have to sample many practices before knowing what is right for you. You might:
- Sit in nature and simply observe it with all your senses
- Sit quietly with a cup of coffee or tea, just being with yourself
- Read scripture, poetry or other inspirational works
- Write in your journal
- Keep a gratitude list
- Walk slowly and mindfully, aware of your breath and your body
It’s not important what you do, but that you have a daily practice. Then, in six months, read your journal, gratitude list or mentally review your inner journey. Marvel at where you have come, and how far - at all times remembering that this is a journey without end and that the joy is in the traveling.