I’ve been doing this spiritual thang for over thirty years.
In that time, I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve also learned that I know nothing.
Indeed, realizing how little I know is one of the most valuable things I’ve learned.
But there’s something else I’ve realized, a truth I keep returning to again and again.
A truth that, over the years, has become the Most Important Element of my spiritual practice.
So now, as I often do, I’m going to bust out a little story that illustrates this truth.
The other morning, I was out walking.
And when I say walking, I am referring to something quite specific.
My morning practice is to take a 4-mile hike in our local park. While I’m hiking, I pray, say affirmations and talk to the Divine. It’s a bit of a Divine Affirmation Jam Fest.
So when I say walking, I really mean taking-a-long-hike-while-affirmatively-jamming-with-the-Divine.
Oh, and did I mention this goes on for an hour?
No quick little Jam Fest for me. Oh no.
So the other morning, I was out there, walking and jamming, and I noticed a squirrely little voice in my head.
Underneath all the affirmative Divine jamming, my brain had an entirely different commentary going on.
Something to the tune of:
It was almost enough to stop me in my tracks.
But once I start walking (and affirming and jamming), it’s hard to stop, so luckily the squirrely little voice wasn’t enough to throw me off course.
Indeed, I was able to immediately recognize the absurdity of the whole thing.
Here I was, out in the woods, spending an entire hour hiking and jamming with the Divine, an amazing practice I do regularly, and this squirrely little voice was telling me I wasn’t doing a good enough job?!
Catching myself in the process of believing – and then not believing – the squirrely little voice was a great and powerful reminder.
The spiritual path is comprised of many things. There are the practices themselves: Disciplines like meditation. And prayer. And service.
And there’s the way in which these practices are undertaken. With passion. And discipline. And commitment.
But the Most Important Element of spiritual practice?
Both as a practice itself and a way in which to undertake any practice?
There I was, doing my hard-core jam fest, and I had forgotten the Most Important Element of the whole thing. I had allowed the squirrely little voice to kick Love off the premises.
Dude. Not cool.
The minute I realized this, I welcomed Love back into the jam.
C’mon back! We missed you! You are sooooo needed here!
And Love, as it is wont to do, came rushing back.
I felt light.
Not only that, my whole jam fest became infused with a deep presence of what it’s all about in the first place.
I had been embarking on the jam fest to become more loving, and I had forgotten to do it in a loving way.
One of the things about the spiritual path is that you have to get to take your human self along.
The human self is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it also has a penchant for doing weird things.
Like inviting squirrels to come along on your awesome Divine jam fest.
But a really cool thing about the Most Important Element of spiritual practice is that it gives you a way to deal with that wacky human side.
In the case of my recent walk, I can turn to my human side and say:
Yeah, you invited a hater squirrel to the jam fest, but that’s okay. I get it. You’re just trying to do the best job possible and you thought the squirrel could help with that. In this case, though, the way to do the best job possible is to be as loving as possible. Not as squirrely as possible.
It sounds cliché to say that Love is always the answer.
But it’s true.
Especially when it comes to spiritual practice.
And squirrelly little voices in our heads.
How do you employ Love in your spiritual practice? Share your comments below!