I know exactly the kind of person I want to be—wise, kind, easy-going, curious, creative, self-aware, patient, and funny. If only my intentions were enough. Time and time again I forget who I want to be. It feels like an amnesia because I quickly forget it all in the heat of a moment.
Under stress or despair, I feel as if a completely different person inhabits me. When jealousy arises, I contract becoming stingy and cranky. When fear sweeps over me, my imagination dissolves to one single response. When anger and rage strike, my choices are so constricted I spew forth unhelpfully.
Spiritual Practice is like a great reminder App
An effective spiritual practice is one that reminds me the person I aim to be while also acknowledging I am goodness at my core. A spiritual practice is like a great reminder app cutting through the forgetfulness. It is also like going to the gym, where regular “workouts” increase the likelihood my compassion and wisdom muscles kick in before I say or do something I’ll regret. It also must be a practice that holds me accountable to avoid fooling myself or misreading reality. Accountability is why all spiritual practices have a a community of fellow practitioners, a system of teachers or clergy, and examples of those who have gone before and been transformed by the practices.
One common misunderstanding of spiritual practices is that they must be focused on piety or God. Another misconception is that they must be done perfectly, however that might look—words said exactly right, done one-hundred percent of the time, or with prescribed actions. Another unrealistic expectation is wanting instant results. A spiritual practice takes a lifetime. That amnesia never goes away.
I sought out a meditation practice when my children were young and family life was hectic. I needed something that could help me see myself, family, friends, work and the world in a more loving, less self-absorbed way. I answered a newspaper want ad for meditation lessons. and meditate mostly daily. Twenty-two years later, meditating and prayer are my primary heart-reset tools. I still go to weekly class. Your practice might be writing, walking in the woods, yoga, chanting, even attending church weekly. Longevity is key because we are transformed over time.
If you need resources, one wonderful website is SpiritualityandPractice.com run by the wise husband and wife team Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. This multi-faith and inter-spiritual website is devoted to resources for spiritual journeys. Our Unitarian Universalist Association’s website, UUA.org, has countless articles and links to spiritual practices.
Let’s Practice Together
On Wednesday nights at 7 pm, you can join me to practice meditation with a group of other seekers who are on their own spiritual practice journey. I share stories and teachings from my experiences, and we learn from each other too, in addition to guided meditations. I hope meditation can help you remember to be your better self.
Rev. Cathey Edwards is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and Mediation Teacher. She served six years as senior minister for Hope Unitarian Church in Tulsa. Cathey teaches us how to meditate during All Souls Wednesday Community Connections program.