Perseverance & Spiritual Practices

In my Unigram article last month, I wrote about the application of intention to everyday tasks to transform them to spiritual practices. In that piece I noted how through intention I could transform some walks in Nature into spiritual experiences, raising them above the everyday and ordinary. Yet applying intention to everyday things to gain a spiritual practice is not a strategy that will be equally rewarding to everyone. It may also work better with some tasks than others. As a result, you may wish to seek out a spiritual practice that requires the application of perseverance. Some authorities on spiritual practices maintain that the most transformational potentials come from those spiritual practices that are nothing other than a spiritual practice for us. Take meditation, for instance. Meditation is something we purposefully do as a spiritual practice that we generally do not otherwise do in the course of our everyday lives. By being inherently spiritual, it becomes easier to distinguish it from everyday activities and emphasize its spiritual value. For example, taking a walk in Nature can have more than one meaning for me. As a result, it may be more difficult to stay focused on the spiritual. I could potentially, then, complete it sometimes with a sense of spiritual pride, but really have been focused on exercise or covering a lot of ground. Something like meditation, on the other hand, cannot be completed in any way other than spiritually. When we use everyday things as a spiritual practice, there can
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Intention & Spiritual Practices

For years I felt that my desire and intention for spiritual practices was greater that my familiarity with them. By this I mean that my interest was high, but my knowledge was low and limited to a handful of practices common to our culture, such as prayer, reading scripture, and meditation. Perhaps you too have felt similarly, now or in the past, and craved spiritual exercises, but could not find ones that suited you. Because Unitarian Universalism embraces religious freedom of the individual, we do not possess an obvious and widespread set of spiritual practices outside of collective worship, in the way some other religions do. What is likely the easiest path to a spiritual practice is by adding intentional mindfulness to the passions you already hold. Mindfulness is fully bringing our attention to the experience of the present moment. The opposite of mindfulness would be to engage in tasks on auto-pilot, without thought or awareness. In what has became a famous example of mindfulness and intentionality, Zen Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in Creating True Peace (pgs. 143-44 ) about eating an orange as a spiritual exercise of mindfulness. We could simply eat an orange as a piece of food. Or, says Hanh, we could eat the orange meditatively, appreciating it as a miracle of nature that nourishes us. Peel it and focus on how it feels. Smell it. Savor it as you eat it. Imagine the sun and rain it took to nourish the fruit. Imagine
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