It’s the days after Samhain, before all the secular holiday rush, and I have been observing a deeper malaise at this point of the year, especially going into year two of a COVID overlay. It’s more than regular post-Samhain blues, there seems to be an air of gloom and doom among the online Pagan community (and the world at large). I get it, the world is horrific, the bad news seems to be unceasing, but I have also been genuinely wondering: Where is the joy in everyone’s practice? Which leads me to asking myself, am I finding joy in my practice? How do we keep going, at times like these? Is it time for a check-in, and possibly a reset?
A daily spiritual practice is the backbone of my day, but it wasn’t and isn’t always that way. I was actively avoiding it for part of this year, and finally chose to stop ignoring it, and begin again. There are still some days I would rather just bury my head under the covers, and ignore the world, and times when I can only manage to do just that. I can go in and out of daily practice, but I have noticed in stressful times (such as nowadays), that it feels much better to honor my spiritual practice than to get through the day without it.
My personal practice includes meditation, daily time at my altar, daily reading of a devotional book, (I’m re-reading the wonderful book Celtic Spirit by Caitlin Matthews, a hugely helpful daily guide), as well as more dedicated time to divination. I read cards for myself on the regular, and for my clients when needed. There are many days on which this practice brings me joy, and then there are those days when I still feel meh.
When that feeling persists, I turn to a checklist I’ve developed, and tweak what I am doing as needed. The list is below, and hopefully, it helps you if you are not feeling the joy in your own practices. Take what works, leave the rest, and may we all feel more joy as we deepen our practices.
Spiritual Practice Checklist
Am I taking care of my own needs?: This is paramount. Am I staying hydrated, eating healthily, moving my body in some fashion? How is my breathing? (time to get some deep breaths in right now) How is my grounding and centering? If the answer is no to any of these, I do what I can to change that course. I will drink lots more water, practice some deep breathing, and move my body, even if it’s a short walk to the mailbox.
Where is my own joy?: What brings joy? Is my daily life filled with mostly stresses and deadlines? What can I do to rectify this? For me, when feeling I schedule time out in nature, pronto. It gives me something to look forward to, and is a guaranteed reset button. What works for you? Time with friends, a hobby, reading a good book, or venturing out in the world? If you are not sure what brings you joy, take some time to compile a list of what brings an instant spark of joy to you. Save that list for when you feel the meh.
How am I feeling about my community?: While I am happily an introvert, there are times when I feel the need for my tribe. Although scattered throughout the world, there are a few special people I know I can count on when days are challenging. Along with friends, I look to the people who inspire me, and dip into their social media, for a quick visual and mental boost. When I am feeling alone, and other people don’t seem to the be the answer, I look with a curious eye to the world around me. Is there a workshop or online class I could attend? What can I enrich my life with? Is there someone I admire that I can be inspired by? Soon, I lose myself in looking outwardly, and that helps reset me.
What can I do for others?: I know when I am feeling less than stellar, my mental spirals focus on the myopic world of me and only me. To get out of that spiral, I reach out to others. Others for me includes local wildlife, my plants and my garden. In addition to contacting people and family (see paragraph above), I will check on water and bird feeders outside, tend to my plants, check on and plan for my garden. It takes me out of my head, and brings me joy. As well, I make time to volunteer regularly, and have invested time with a local green works organization. Are there local organizations you can join, or others you can check on regularly, to add to your routine? Since the pandemic started, I have also made it a habit to check on three people weekly, either by quick note, text or regular mail. When it’s reciprocated, it’s such a boost to my system, to feel that connection, and to know others thought of me. A chat with a friend about magical and mundane matters also helps push through the stagnancy.
What can I turn from mundane to magical? Adding magical moments to my day helps me move through the stuck feeling. Simple things, like stirring the spoon in my coffee a magical number of times, purchasing a magical planner, or sprucing up my altar helps. Cooking or baking also helps me in several ways, and there are lots of magical cookbooks out there.
As we wend our way towards Yule, I hope these suggestions help you navigate through some of these doldrums. Let me know in the comments what ways you use to help yourself out of the spiritual blahs.