My approach to practice is using a combination of meditation, psychotherapy, body work, common sense and supportive group work. It has allowed me to awaken into deep and profound states of consciousness, connect deeply with my life and the people in it and meet all of life with openness and joy.
For me, practice is a part of the way I live my life, rather than a practice for some future that we will never arrive at. I like to think that even when they are hard, my practices have a sense of joy or fun in them. I wanted to share some of my favourite practices in the hope that they may be supportive for other people, too.
It is my experience, that these are the qualities that the spiritual path will allow you to experience and deepen in your life. Having spoken to a lot of people along the way about their path, this is aligned with a lot of what most people are hoping to find from their practice.
- Being more present in the now
- Living in a more natural, flowing and joyful state
- Finding a sense of purpose and confidence in your path
- Acting and thinking wisely and skilfully
- Feeling at peace with yourself and at home in the world
It is worth saying, that no amount of awakening will replace the need to be seen, loved and respected by our fellow humans. I’ve seen this misunderstanding (and sometimes misrepresentation) of spirituality lead to confusion and disappointment for those following the path and it can lead to abuse by people in positions of power. This misconception will feed and create narcissistic tendencies in people, which is surprisingly common in spiritual leaders.
These five attributes are also not something that you can practice directly, they arise from creating the right conditions for them in your life. It is also worth saying that these conditions aren’t entirely within a person’s control – there are plenty of factors like systemic oppression, poverty and personal challenges – that will make it more difficult or impossible for individuals to cultivate the space for these attributes. Another largely unrecognised truth within spirituality.
Most meditation practices expect us to find these states automatically if we sit in stillness long enough. Modern life is very different to that of a monk’s life 1,000 plus years ago; our society is less suited to our human animal nature, which makes us feel less safe. We also hold a lot more information, we are busier and our culture is more brain-focused. Given all this, I believe that it is supportive to offer more guidance to our selves and our bodies, to help us navigate through the processes that will cultivate these capacities.
You can be especially incompatible to silent meditation if you have trauma, if you are sensitive, if you feel things very deeply or if you are someone with a lot of life force in you.
By the way, in the house I grew up in, ‘sensitive’ was pretty much the worse thing you could call someone. It has a lot of negative valence attached to it in our culture, but if you can create the right conditions for it, sensitivity is actually a huge gift that allows you to pick up on subtle forms of beauty, magic and connection in life.
The conditions that we need in order to cultivate these five attributes in our life, come from the heart. This is not a metaphor, your physical heart literally holds the states that will help you cultivate these capacities. Trust me, it’s beautiful. The states already exist there and we are learning the techniques to peel back layers of conditioning and open our hearts, allowing these lovely attributes to flow out of us.
- Presence arises with compassion
- Flow arises with joy
- Purpose arises with inclusion
- Wisdom arises with friendliness
- Feeling at home arises with an environment we can be ourselves in
Compassion, joy, inclusion and friendliness are the natural states of the heart. I am creating a short guide for some of the practices I use for opening up to our natural capacity to embody these states.
I have also written a short guide to shared practice. Creating spaces where we can practice together will help us connect with each other in a more authentic way and make space for people to express their true selves in, which is ultimately how we all get home.
I hope that these guides are helpful and interesting.