Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. This article features wisdom from Reiki master and personal coach, Robin Corak.
In our fast paced world, the thought of adding a daily spiritual practice to our routine can seem overwhelming. Yet, studies have repeatedly shown the immense value of a daily spiritual practice. Spiritual practices can help us to enhance our well being, develop resilience and coping skills, and improve our overall health. According to the National Institute of Health, some studies have shown that people who have regular spiritual practices often live longer than those who don’t. Contemplative spiritual practices such as meditation have been known to reduce pain, improve mental health, relieve stress, and strengthen our immune systems. So how does one go about incorporating an ongoing spiritual practice into his or her busy schedule? It is important to note that while a spiritual practice can also be religious in nature, it doesn’t have to be. A regular spiritual practice can be simple. Here are 5 easy ways to implement a spiritual practice in your daily routine in just 5-10 minutes a day.
Nature OfferingsI am fortunate enough to have a greenbelt around my property which is home to a variety of creatures including various ravens and crows. I learned from an article several months ago that unsalted peanuts are a good source of protein for corvids and when they are in the shell they provide them with beneficial exercise. I began taking roughly five minutes out of each morning to leave a handful of peanuts in a few places in my yard, followed by sitting in silence in nature. I have found over time that the act of doing something to benefit another living creature fills me with happiness. In addition, the simple act of sitting in silence in nature energizes me and provides me with greater clarity throughout the day.
Similar activities serve the same purpose, whether it’s leaving water out for birds and other various creatures or nurturing a plant. If you are relegated to apartment living, simply sitting on your balcony with a cup of tea or taking a walk around the block can have the same effect. The power in this exercise stems not only from the revitalization that can come from giving selflessly and being in nature, but also from setting an intention and letting go of expectations.
Altar Your MindAltars have been used by a diverse array of religions and spiritual traditions for hundreds of thousands of years. An altar can act as a focal point for spirituality and contemplation. Your altar can help you to ground and reconnect to spirituality when life gets challenging or chaotic. Altars are simple to make and allow for a great deal of creative expression. One effective spiritual practice is to simply sit in silence in front of your altar for 5-10 minutes a day. This can be done first thing in the morning or at night before you go to bed. Altars can be made on shelves, tables, bookshelves and even around your bathtub! Simply place items that are meaningful to you on the altar. These can be religious items or items that you associate with your own spirituality such as crystals, flowers, seashells, pictures of loved ones, sayings, and/or other items that have personal meaning for you. Many people choose to include candles or incense on their altar as well. Having an altar can be beneficial at work as well while still being subtle. Your spiritual work space could simply be comprised of a living plant, pictures, and/or things you have found in nature such as sea glass or stones. You can also designate your computer’s desktop background as a simple electronic altar by choosing a picture that has spiritual meaning for you.
Daily Energy CleansingIf you are really strapped for time and/or don’t feel you have a space that you can dedicate for a daily spiritual routine, try incorporating a daily energy cleansing each time that you take a bath or shower. Simply take a few moments to breathe deeply and then imagine all of the stress and/or other undesirable emotions or physical feelings being washed away by the water. Imagine all of these negative energies going down the drain along with the water from your shower or bath. Then, take just a moment to visualize what it is you would like to replace those energies with. How would you like to feel? What could you envision happening today that would benefit your spiritual, emotional, and physical health? For added effect, you might consider adding epsom or sea salts to your bath or adding a drop or two of water from a natural source such as an ocean, river, or stream. Both of these items are known to be healing and to absorb negative energies.
Walking the LabyrinthIf you have difficulty sitting and meditating or simply prefer to be physically active, walking a labyrinth is a great way to practice mindfulness. For those of us who have very active “monkey” minds it can be difficult to tame our thoughts and be in the moment during a sitting meditation. Conversely, there is something about moving that helps to settle our minds down so that we can more effectively be present. In order to make the best use of the labyrinth – particularly if you are new to this activity – it helps to focus on a question as you walk towards the labyrinth’s center. Once you reach the center, be still and silent for a moment and take note of anything you feel as well as any thoughts that arise. As you walk out of the labyrinth and back to the entrance, pay attention once again to any thoughts or insights that might help to answer your initial question. The World-Wide Labyrinth Locator can help you to find a labyrinth in your vicinity. If you are unable to find a labyrinth near you or you prefer to do this activity at home, there are plenty of inexpensive handheld labyrinths that can be found online. In addition, The Labyrinth Society offers some free labyrinth outlines that you can utilize by using your finger or a pencil to lightly trace the labyrinth’s paths.
Chakra Energy Revitalization MeditationChakras are various focal points within our energy bodies. Each chakra or “energy center” is associated with physical and emotional characteristics. It was believed by many ancient religions that challenging health and life issues could occur when our chakras were out of balance. Just as we must take care of our physical bodies for optimal health, it is also important to be aware of and care for our bodies’ energies. The brief meditation that follows can be done in 5 minutes or so each morning to help clear and balance your chakras so that you are energized and ready for the day ahead.
Pay attention to your breathing. When you are settled and ready, imagine a door in front of you. This can be any kind of door – an old wooden door, a glass door, or even a portal. You walk through the door and find yourself in a cave. The air is cold but instead of feeling chilled you feel alert and alive. You hear the sound of running water somewhere ahead of you and know that you should follow the sound. The cave is somewhat dark, but there is enough light pouring in from the rocks above for you to carefully make your way forward. You walk towards the sound of the water and as you round a curve in the cave, you are astonished to see crystals of every color sparkling on the cave’s walls. The sound of the water gets louder and louder until you finally find yourself in front of an underground spring. You cup your hands and drink from the spring. The chilled water is refreshing. Next to the spring you see what appears to be a room in the cave. You dry off using the linen and when you are ready, you walk into the room. The room is glowing with all sorts of crystals – purple amethysts, clear quartz crystals, sapphires the color of the sky, and more. You walk to the center of the room and place your feet on a large round stone of clear quartz. As you do so, you close your eyes and relax. You know intuitively that this stone exists to recharge and rebalance your chakras. As you breathe in you find yourself filled with a glittering silver light that comes in through the crown of your head. The energy is warm and feels amazing. You then breathe in a vivid purple light through your third eye, a cobalt blue light through your throat and an emerald green light through your heart. These are followed by a golden light in your solar plexus, a bright orange light below your solar plexus, and a vibrant red light at the root of your body right above your legs. You notice that as you breathe each new energy in, the color of the stone you are standing on changes to match that color. When you are done, take a moment to see how you feel. Check in with each energy center in your body. Once you have determined that your body feels in better balance, you leave the room within the cave and follow your path back to the cave’s mouth. At the entrance to the cave, you turn and express your gratitude for the natural energies and powers that have restored your chakras to full balance and health. When you are ready, you turn and walk back through the door that took you to the cave and thus back into reality.
A brief daily spiritual practice can offer a huge return on investment of your time through benefits such as clarity, greater serenity, and improved physical and mental health. The activities above are ideas to get you started, but the options for your spiritual practice are endless and limited only by your imagination.
Robin Corak is a Reiki Master, Personal Coach, Author, Speaker and Teacher. She has had her worked featured in publications including “Goddess: When She Rules”, “Flower Face: Bloduwedd Anthology” , and “Her Sacred Garden: An Avalonian Herbal Journey” and has presented at conferences including Land, Sea, and Sky’s A Year With Our Gods: Bloduewedd conference (2018), and as a panelist for the 2017 and 2018 Avacon online conferences. For the past six years, Robin has also acted as the CEO of a large, social services non-profit organization in Washington state.