Friday, 1 January 2010

Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions

Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions

1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.

2. I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.

3. I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.

4. I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the "other" is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.

5. I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.

6. I will add to the planet's fund of good will by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.

7. I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.

8. I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.

9. I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.

10. I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

The Basic Practice
Spiritual Practices: Being Present

Living in past or future
Being Present

The Basic Practice

Being present in the spiritual life always has a double meaning. There's present, as in here, in attendance. And there's present, as in now, a moment of time. What is the spiritual practice of being present? Being here now.

The world's religions all recommend living in the moment with full awareness. Zen Buddhism especially is known for its emphasis on "nowness." Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, Moslem, Christian, and other teachers urge us to make the most of every day as an opportunity that will not come to us again.

Also under the rubric of being present is the traditional spiritual exercise called practicing the presence of God. This means recognizing that God is here now moving through our everyday activities, no matter how trivial they might seem

Why This Practice May Be For You

The contrasts to being present are living in the past and living in the future. We do the former when we hold on to regrets. We constantly review things that have already happened, trying to explain them in terms of our own or someone else's actions. Often this kind of thinking leads to guilt or blaming.

We live in the future when we make assumptions or fantasize about what could happen and then become attached to those expected outcomes. This habit usually results in disappointment. Whether we are consumed with positive expectations (optimism) or negative projections (pessimism), we are not living in the moment.

When you find yourself constantly reacting to your experiences in one of these ways, when you always want to be otherwise and elsewhere, it is time to be present. The companion of this practice is contentment.

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