So what do all these high (and abstract) sounding principles in the previous two posts actually mean in practical daily life terms? They mean much to me because they’re part of my practice. Yours will be different.
I talk a lot on this blog about the foundational importance of a regular practice — I’ve learned the value of one from years of experience, failures and successes. Part of your unfolding practice can consist of crafting prayers and rituals and deploying them to help empower you daily — hourly, if needed. Here’s a fine and succinct example (shared with permission) from Catriona Hughes:
Water on my left, fire on my right,
Cleanse and shield me through this fight.
Earth below and sky above,
Help me greet the world with love.
A great deal of the post-election reaction in the U.S. among many has been (and continues to be) fear, blame, anger and grief. Unless these energy flows serve to cause specific and useful changes in our behavior, they wantonly squander our energy without giving us anything like a worthy return. We can give a true gift to ourselves and dedicate the same energies behind them to something we choose, not something reactive — dependent on another’s actions. Otherwise we’re not only left with fear, etc., but we’ve squandered what personal power we do have for that hour or day or month that could have shaped a creative and positive response, and seeded still more over time. Replacement is essential. Our psyches, like nature, abhor a vacuum. Clearing them is the first part. Filling them with what we, not others, choose, is a vital second step.
Something like Frank Herbert’s fine “Litany against Fear” in his Dune series of novels can also answer this need:
I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
“Season to taste” fits a life even more than a meal. Find what actually works for you.
Build your own life first. Securing creative sources of shelter, heat, food and water answers our first animal and elemental needs. Ask for help from Spirit and the Four Quarters. Make a form and expression of gratitude part of that daily practice. Blessings and graces — bless the fire as you light it, the food as you eat it, the wind outside as it sweeps past you, the light from the sky as it pours down on you, the animal and plant life all around you, in every season.
Write, sing, dance these things–you choose. Window boxes with herbs or salad greens are within the capacity of all but the most physically restricted of us. Just having something green beside you in the winter months cheers the heart. Eating anything you’ve grown is a return you have gifted to yourself. Note its symbolic power as well — this accompanies any physical act and often matters at least as much to outcomes and influences.
Practices are just that — practice. Refine and adapt as needed. The “best practices” are ones that fit you and feed you. You’ll know this by the doing of it — and gain in confidence and self-knowledge when choosing future practices wisely and heart-fully.
Nurture relationships. Everyone has friends, family, pets, neighbors, co-workers, co-religionists, etc. who can accomplish more together than apart. You know best how to do this, when, on what scale, how often, in your own way.
Practice being an ancestor. Make a point of challenging your own perspectives, beliefs and practices so you can anticipate and ride changes more smoothly. Again, you know best how to do this. The coming days, years and decades will not slacken in the tests and challenges they will bring to us to face. Our ancestors survived their share — and we are living proof. We can do the same.
Know what matters to you, what you believe, what deserves your effort and love. Set it down in writing. Share it with those who matter to you. It may be a list or a theology or two or three practices you want in front of you, within a daily sightline, for a visual reminder as you go about your day. You choose.
Take stock and assess areas above (and others on your own list) — both those that continue to need more attention and those that already flourish and bring you energy and joy. Let your assessment focus on what you’ve learned and what your next steps can be. If you’re like most humans, you’ll benefit from putting these in writing and reviewing them regularly. Once a month — the full or new moon — is a sound time to do so.
There — the beginnings of a practice already, a focused response that will generate, I guarantee, positive results.
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