I have struggled crafting daily devotions the last few years. The main reason is that I have held onto this image of what my daily devotions should look like, rather than seeing what they have naturally morphed into. For decades I was in a childless relationship that allowed me to focus on career, hobbies and spirituality. Most of my free time was spent in the pursuit of spiritual, religious and metaphysical knowledge.
This knowledge was used to craft my own spiritual practice which was outwardly expressed by hosting and moderating message boards as well as, facilitating chats and workshops. The inward or private reflection of my practice incorporated meditation, writing, devotionals and offerings. All my free time was devoted to my practice. Then I made a major life shift and have since realize that the practice that I was trying to hold onto was the one that worked when I had personal responsibility to myself, not others and could craft commitments more easily.
In essence, I have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. By doing so I have set unrealistic expectations for myself. This led to feeling that I failed myself and my practice when I could not make my daily life fit my mental image. My personal expectations and reality were operating on two different levels. Because of this I was being critical of myself instead of honoring the space where my body, mind, and spirit now resided.
My practice always existed and has naturally evolved as my lifestyle and commitments changed. It simply did not fit my mental image of what I have always read and discussed with others a spiritual practice should look like in a modern neo-pagan context. Nor did that mental image fit within the context of my new lifestyle and responsibilities. I had held onto the mental image because of habit, social guidelines, peer pressure, and unexamined self expectations. This caused an internal struggle that was a disservice to the health of my body, mind and spirit.
Books, websites, festivals, workshops and retreats are all great places to meet people and learn techniques to feed your body, mind, and spirit. The techniques shared via media and social encounters can be wonderful, enlightening and sometimes just logical! However, if you are not realistic about incorporating these techniques into your practice and personality you are setting yourself up for failure.
Socially, we are taught to put our best foot forward and hide our flaws. This lends an unrealistic slant to the knowledge given and shared in the aforementioned places as it is rare to have deep conversations regarding the struggles of creating, establishing and maintaining a daily practice. The appearance of perfect practices by others can be intimidating or disheartening to those struggling. Don’t give up because everyone has struggled at one time or another with their practice.
Knowing your personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time is crucial to crafting a successful practice. You must be honest with yourself if you wish to craft a successful daily practice of devotion that feeds your body, mind, and spirit. When crafting your practice be honest with yourself concerning your personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time.
The more honest you are with yourself the more successful you will be in crafting a daily practice. Personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time are areas to examine when crafting a practice that will truly feed your body, mind and spirit. Some thoughts to ponder before while examining and crafting a daily practice:
• Who do I wish to share my practice with?
• What do I need to do to make this practice work?
• When can I practice?
• Where can I practice?
• Why do I wish to practice?
• How do I wish to share my practice?
These days I share my daily practice with my partner and three small children. Things that I must consider when setting up sacred space: breakables, safety of offerings (toxic herbs, choking hazards, etc.), fire vs. LED candles, etc.
As a reflection of these considerations our Earth Mother shrine is on the kitchen table. There is a statue, metal incense burner in the shape of a tree, glass and iron well, four Led candles and a small plastic bowl for offerings. Basically, the items the children will be handling are suitable for small hands. They are too young to light candles, but two of them can turn the LED candle on. This way the children can be more hands on in our devotions giving them more freedom for their exploration and expression.
There is another shrine in our home that is out of reach of the youngest. This contains statuary, traditional candles, a knife, fire, well and tree. It is also is where I would make any offerings that could be dangerous to an inquisitive toddler.
Life is fluid, so your practice should be too! When your lifestyle and commitments change, re-examine your practice. If you do not feel that your mind, body and spirit are being fed take a look and see what you can change. We are always growing, changing and learning. Your practice should be a reflection of your personal growth and experiences.