When Michelangelo was asked how he carved David, he replied by saying that David was already in there. What he meant was when the giant piece of marble arrived, Michelangelo only had to chip away at what David was not. Its form, its authenticity was already there; it was innate. Just like each and every one of us, our authenticity is innate; it is our divinity that lies within us. Spiritual practice is about the chipping away process. Without spiritual practice we live in a world of illusion, we believe we are the marble waiting for someone or something to make us great when the truth is we already are.
Spiritual growth is not about trying to be someone you are not, to be “more spiritual” and then by someone else’s definition, better. It is about becoming more of your authentic self. The thing is you are already your authentic self; it has just been buried inside the layers of facades that have been built up to protect yourself. There comes a point in one’s life that we realize by protecting ourselves, we lose ourselves. When we lose ourselves, we become unhappy, unfulfilled and we often begin to create somewhat destructive patterns to create a crack in the facade so we can find ourselves again.
Spiritual practice is merely a way to begin to peel away the layers of the onion that aren’t us and to begin to discover who we are at our core. At the core, lies our vision and living our vision is why we are here.
The spiritual path we follow is irrelevant. What is important is that we follow one. All paths eventually lead to self-mastery and to master the self is to find one’s divinity. This is what we are all seeking whether we are aware of this or not. It is fruitless to compare your path to another’s, to access which is better or worse, you should only be concerned with whether you are on your path and that you are putting one foot in front of the other.
I remember when I fist stepped on the path of self-mastery. Of course, I was happy to be the master of anything I could back then. Unfortunately I only liked mastery if I was good at it. So when I quickly realized self-mastery was not my strong suit, I tried to run the other way. I always liked a challenge like building a company or helping a friend through a horrible break-up. I strategically avoided the things I thought I wasn’t good at and focused on what I was. Unfortunately all the things I seemed to be good at were external so I ended up avoiding myself. This led to a life where I mastered many things but not myself and although I achieved many goals, I was somehow still not satisfied with my life. The truth is I would never be satisfied with my life unless I was willing to look within myself.
If we are not satisfied with our lives, it’s because we don’t know what satisfies us on a spirit level because we don’t know who we are. This is the reason for a spiritual path. The only way that I know of to get through the difficult terrain and navigate the holes in the path is a spiritual practice. A daily practice that you do regardless of whether you want to do it or not.
I am not a religious person so when I began devising my daily spiritual practice it consisted of meditating. Now, I was a type A, overachiever and multi-tasking may have well as been my middle name. When I sat down to try and quiet my mind for five minutes, it was no small feat. I started my practice with a baby step, five minutes a day, come rain or shine. In the beginning, it felt like the longest five minutes of my life. Eventually, I grew to enjoy my five minutes of peace and quiet. Then, it grew to fifteen and eventually to thirty. Of course it wasn’t just enough for me to have fifteen or thirty minutes of peace each day, I needed to see results. I noticed that as I meditated the quality of my day changed. I became more present, more at ease and the stress in my life took much longer to bother me.
Today, my spiritual practice consists of meditation and prayer; this is how I spend the first hour of every day. If you had told me when I first began a spiritual practice that this is something I would look forward to and count on for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t have believed you. I know now that it is the glue that holds my life together.
Before I started a daily spiritual practice the first thing that happened upon waking was my mind went into a tailspin thinking of all the things I had to do that day. These first thoughts, pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day, which was my mind in overdrive until my head hit the pillow later that night. Then I woke up and did it again. Once I realized that I was setting an unconscious intention for every day to be stressful by the way I began my day, I shifted the way I began my day. Instead of thinking of all the things I had to do that day and letting myself go into overwhelm, I simply thanked creator for another day. I focused on expressing gratitude for all the blessings that are in my life. Gratitude raises our vibration and opens us up to receiving. It is impossible to be in fear and gratitude at the same time. After, giving thanks, I get out of bed and continue my daily spiritual practice. It is the first thing I do each day. Why? Because becoming centered, clear & connected is the conscious intention I want to set each day.
At first it was difficult to break out of the old habit of jumping into my day full speed ahead but eventually I developed a new habit that was in my best interest. This is what a spiritual practice does.
It always amazes me how much time and energy we are wiling to put into our body and mind but not our spirit. We will make the time to go to the gym or to learn a new skill for our job but we don’t make the time to connect to who we really are. When all is said and done, the spirit is the part of us that we take with us when we die so why is our focus always elsewhere?
A spiritual practice brings us back in touch with our our authentic self. The only way to connect with this part of us is experientially. We have to be still and quiet and allow ourselves to begin to experience our true self. This happens when we meditate. The more we are able to connect to our true selves through a spiritual practice, the more we are able to be more authentic in our lives. Being authentic creates a more fulfilling life because we attract the people, the work and the things that are in alignment. This brings a deep satisfaction. This satisfaction cannot be found unless we are willing and able to be connected to our spirit, otherwise we are just seeking ego gratification and experience momentary pleasure that is not sustainable.
Michelangelo had it right. Creation is not something we can go out and find; it is something we already have within us. When we access this place, our beauty and divinity are revealed to the world and the world is a better place because of it.