In the past few months, one question has resurfaced again and again. How can I sustain my current responsibilities without burning out? There are moments when I am able to transcend stress and remain amazingly calm. Then, there are other moments, when I cannot help but absorb the energy around me. Those days, I go home searching for peace. The answer I keep receiving, develop a spiritual practice to move into a more consistently balanced space.
Now, I get that the word spiritual can be a big turnoff for many. It is hard to separate the word from religious traditions that may not be our own. But, whether you’re agnostic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or even atheist, creating a spiritual practice can be beneficial and does not have to be about one path to God. Instead, it is about quieting the mind and connecting with what is important. This in itself is not new. I just did not know where to start, until I found two books at my mom’s house this week.
The first, Mindfulness Yoga inspired me to connect my yoga practice with Eastern philosophy and meditation. The second, The Spiritual Activist, focuses on helping activists of all faiths, including teachers, establish spiritual practices to sustain their social work. While Mindfulness Yoga is great for establishing home yoga routines and understanding the philosophical background of meditation, it is dense material. The Spiritual Activist, on the other hand, makes it easy to form a plan of action. Together they make an inspiring duo. Exactly what I was seeking.
My new plan, create a daily spiritual practice that interchanges yoga, meditation, walking, and reading. Even though I already do these things, the goal is to set aside a regular time each day to quiet my mind. At first I considered waking up earlier, but I read it is better not to alter your normal wake/sleep patterns because you are less likely to succeed in establishing new habits when your sleep cycle is changed. So, instead, I plan to begin each evening with silence and spiritual practice when I get home from work.
I know this will be a big experiment, especially since I have never meditated regularly, but I hope to monitor my progress and share whether or not it makes a difference in my stress levels, particularly in the most challenging moments while I teach. I do not expect it to work instant miracles, but I also am hopeful that it will help me access the calm that already exists inside me.
I leave you with one piece of wisdom, known as Bodhichitta. In order to achieve true good for ourselves, we must aim to achieve good for all beings. This is a big part of my calling as a teacher. I teach not only to fulfill myself, but also to make the lives of my students better, which in turn improves our community. So, what I do to make myself a more balanced teacher, I do not just for me, but for my students, and all beings.
If you’re open to sharing, do you have a daily spiritual practice? If so, what does it consist of for you? How has it benefited your life?