Blogging as a Spiritual Practice

August 29, 2011

When I began this blog four years ago, I had no idea what it would come to mean to me. Indeed, I had no idea what a blog should be, how to do one, what I would say. Looking back on this experience, I can see now that it has been a spiritual practice for me. Sometimes, I was faithful and regular, other times erratic. I have “quit” more than once, only to find that I missed this practice.

One of the books I return to again and again is Everyday Spiritual Practice: Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life, edited by Scott W. Alexander. There is something compelling to me about the idea of consistent practice (of anything, really), since I have always felt that my attempts at practice (whether spiritual, physical, mental or otherwise) were jerky and on-again, off-again. Just look at my previous posts about exercise and health: such good intentions, so little follow-through!

But this blog keeps on going like the Energizer bunny, if in fits and starts. And it has helped me understand at a deeper level that imperfection is our nature, that we fall down and get up again and again in this life, and that’s OK. Every day is a new opportunity to realize our vision of what living a full life can be. And every day we will get only partway there–that is,  if we have any forward movement at all. Let us practice living as though this day is our last on this earth, and as if we will live forever.

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Praise, Blame, and Failure

June 28, 2010

This has been going on through the ages.
They criticize the silent ones.
They criticize the talkative ones.
They criticize the moderate ones.
There is no one in the world who escapes criticism.

There never was and never will be,
nor is there now,
the wholly criticized
or the wholly approved.

~Buddha

Fall down 53 times. Get up 54.
~Zen slogan

This morning, walking down the hill to my mailbox, I stepped onto uneven pavement or slipped on loose gravel, twisted my ankle, and fell with all my weight onto my left palm, which now has a nasty cut that won’t stop bleeding. Then about 10:15 I had a call from my doctor saying I was supposed to be at her office at 10:00, a missed appointment that I will have to pay for. In my earlier morning pages,* I reflected on haunting missteps from my past, resolving to move forward with what I have learned, rather than dwelling on what I should have done differently.

So it felt like a personal message from the universe to open my email and find these quotes and other wise words from Margaret Wheatley, an excerpt from her new book, Perseverance. You can read her brief excerpt here. (Be sure to click the arrow on the first page, “Praise and Blame,” to get to the next, “Failure.”)

Wheatley says praise and blame are two sides of the same coin. I couldn’t agree more. For my take on that subject, see a previous entry, “Judgment.”

And now I’m going to get my hand stitched up. May we all walk more mindfully, with acceptance that we are human, and with compassion for ourselves and others.

Namaste.

*If you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t need the explanation that writing three pages in the morning (“morning pages”) is a technique for enhancing creativity described by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way


Sweet Forgiveness

January 20, 2008

When you get down to it, Lily, that’s the only purpose grand enough for a human life–not just to love, but to persist in love.  ~August, in The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

Sweet forgiveness, dear God above
I say we all deserve
A taste of this kind of love
Someone who’ll hold our hand
And whisper: ‘I understand,
And I still love you.’
~Iris DeMent

Write the wrongs that are done to you in sand,  but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble. Let go of all emotions, such as resentment and retaliation, which diminish you, and hold onto the emotions, such as joy and gratitude, which increase you.  ~Arabic proverb

I finally read The Secret Life of Bees, which has been on my reading list for some time now. It’s a good story, and I enjoyed the singular voice of the protagonist and narrator, Lily. I found the themes echoing around my head and heart afterwards–love, empathy, parenting, faith, acceptance, forgiveness.

Forgiveness is sweet on the receiving end, as Iris DeMent poignantly sings, but it is also one of those things that benefits the giver as much as (often more than) the receiver. There is nothing more stunting to our growth than holding a grudge, nursing a hurt, or keeping account of times we’ve been wronged. But so many are unable to “persist in love” in that way. And so we have war, and conflict, and separation from one another.

I think our ability to forgive others, as in Lily’s case, is in part dependent upon our ability to forgive ourselves. Setting high standards for ourselves gives us something to strive toward, but can be a trap for self-denial as well. I am getting better at forgiving myself for all the stupid, thoughtless, unkind, and self-destructive things I’ve done. I want to be completely free to forgive and feel compassion for all.

Do you give yourself the benefit of the doubt as often as you give it to others? Can you think about failures or mistakes you’ve made in the past without a trace of angst?


Starting Over

August 22, 2007

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. ~Mary Pickford

This quote seems particularly appropriate today, since I have missed a couple of days of posting (travel to Savannah and back to do a library board training session).  I am getting better at “starting over;” that is, identifying those practices that are important to health and happiness and, without chastising myself for NOT doing them (“I will not should on myself today!”), simply begin again another day. I have always made a lot of resolutions, and have (without fail) failed to live up to them. But I’ve learned that I can fall down today and get up again tomorrow.  And some of those things I’ve resolved (flossing, for example) have since become daily habits…so there!