The waxing and waning of spiritual practice

The waxing and waning of spiritual practice April 3, 2013

I’ve written before about my struggle to maintain regular spiritual practice here and here and here.  Today, I came across some great advice in a comment to “Dver”‘s post at A Forest Door, “Do Not Stop You Devotions”, in which “Dver” advises not to stop devotions in times of personal crisis.  The comment was on a reblog on “Tales of Biro”:

I’d like to add my own thoughts on the subject. There are times the passion for one’s path and spirituality wanes. And that’s okay. Spirituality can sometimes go on the back burner as mundane life takes over. Dver is right that one shouldn’t stop devotional work completely, but if one is not as involved as they once were it’s not the end of the world. Eventually the tables will turn and mundane life can end up on the back burner as the focus turns to one’s spirituality. Cycles like this are completely normal. After all are you always 100% involved in every single interest you have? Most likely not.

I’m going to use an example one of my sculpture professors used when working on a project. During class he would always demand that we step away from what we were working on. Giving us a break would help give us a new perspective on the piece when we returned to it. We could see it with new eyes so to say. The same could be said for one’s spiritual path. If one is so involved in what they are doing for an extensive amount of time the reasoning why may become lost or things may become stagnant, one may end up just going through the motions. Taking a step back and a moment to breath can help generate new ideas and renew passion. Continuing one’s devotions even if they’re small gestures can keep one from feeling completely disconnected during these waning phases. However these “calmer” periods can be used to further one’s spiritual path if one takes the opportunity to use it beneficially.

What I like most about this advice is its Paganness, the appreciation of the natural cycles of human life.  To everything there is a season: as with the seasons, so with the psyche.  I’ve always known that my enthusiasm for spiritual practice waxes and wanes, but for some reason it never occurred to me to take advantage of this, to use the waning times as an opportunity to reflect on my practice, to evaluate it, to ask myself, “How is it working?  How not?  How might I change it to better reflect where I am at this point in my life?”  I’m not saying the “Dver” is wrong, that there aren’t times that I should just plow through and make myself do it.  But I appreciate the advice from “Tales of Biro”.  If I’m going to take some downtime from my practice, rather than using it to berate myself or wallow, I should take advantage of the time and use it constructively.

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