Last week, I talked about the importance of maintaining the spiritual condition for those in recovery. Obviously, though, it’s essential for everyone. Whether you’re in recovery or just in this world, here are 6 spiritual tools to help you maintain your spiritual fitness in the face of so many challenges and distractions.
Here are some spiritual tools you can use to stay connected to God day to day. Next to each of the six items, I offer a practice or suggestion. But of course, you should find what works for you. By having these six areas covered, you can devote far less energy to struggling to maintain your spiritual condition. Of course, you will slip up. It’s just like exercise: You know it’s good for you. You know you’ll feel better. But you don’t always do it. I hope you find something useful here.
Daily morning prayers — one or two fixed prayers to frame the day, e.g., the Serenity Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the St. Francis prayer, something like “Lord, I pray that I be of maximum usefulness to you and my fellows throughout this day, and that I find it easy to take the next right actions” — and then a free-form period: briefly recall yesterday’s achievements and events and thank God; briefly consider today’s events and ask for guidance and wisdom to make the best of what lies ahead; pray for spiritual guides past and present, for those you guide or support, and for anyone in your life facing a challenge. (Whatever your beliefs about prayer, this act holds them in your own consciousness.)
Daily meditation — Cultivating presence and learning to relate to reality without illusions and games is perhaps the most useful thing spiritual work can offer. When we’re in illusion and delusion we have little chance of finding the grounding we need. Many contemplative practices can help here, but I know of no better way to cultivate presence than meditation. See my page on meditation for Christians.
Daily spiritual reading — Daily readers, scripture or other spiritual books. The practice of following prayer and meditation with some careful spiritual reading is powerful. It grounds your day. And sometimes it triggers contemplation that leads to breakthroughs and insights that are life-changing. Be a student in your spiritual journey.
Throughout the day — Use various tools and techniques to maintain or restore serenity — meditation; the Welcoming Prayer; taking a deep breath; counting to ten; praying the Rosary — there are dozens of useful tools for this. Some are suited to daily use; others to pulling out when needed.
Regular small group — Whether it’s a bible study, a recovery group, a yoga class or something else, being part of a group that meets regularly to support and challenge each other in your spiritual journeys is incredibly powerful. Note I’m talking about a regular group — not dropping in on different groups or classes. Building a sense of fellowship and community is part of what makes small groups so effective.
Before bed — Review the day, letting go of any residue of bad feelings. Two methods for this are the 11th Step of 12-step programs and the Ignatian Examen of Consciousness — which are strikingly similar.