By Kay Frazier
I used to plan my vacations by deciding on a basic vacation destination, where to stay and how to get there. No itinerary, just go and figure it out when I got there. However, I found I missed some things I would have loved to have seen or done, but it turned out that they weren’t open at that time, that day or that season – or I didn’t even realize they were happening – like Harrod’s “boot” (rummage) sale in England. I’ve found I enjoy my vacations much more if I plan a flexible itinerary, based on research on the area and season and assigning priorities to what I and my fellow travelers want to see or do.
Lately, I’ve been getting similar messages regarding my spiritual journey. The first one was probably a simple sentence in a book: “Many spiritual seekers are over-read and under-done.” Looking for the magical fix of instant transformation and enlightenment, I think sometimes I’ve gone from book to book, seminar to seminar, spiritual practice to spiritual practice. Yes, I did make some progress with these. However, I still found myself missing a basic sense of calm and joy and center. In some ways, I was dropping the responsibility for my life, leaving it to others – “the spiritual experts”- or “fate”.
In the last year, I’ve begun to desire and started to practice a spiritual itinerary, based on my priorities, finding and combining and practicing the spiritual traditions that on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis work best for me. I am discovering a new sense of calm and beginning to differentiate between the calm joy and acceptance of spirit and the ungrounded, dramatic joy of the ego. I believe I can enjoy life and have my feelings; I just don’t need to be attached to feelings or experiences, to judge others or myself as right or wrong, good or bad. My daily spiritual practices – including those moment-by-moment experiences and processing of like and dislike and drama and change – are my flexible spiritual itinerary. I am still finding and will continue adjusting my itinerary as needed.
In the end, I like a phrase my shamanic teacher once uttered: “The proof is in the pudding.” Spirituality is not just for Sunday morning or a class, or a morning and evening meditation; it’s most effective as a moment-to-moment practice of responsibility and awareness. As Jon Kabat-Zinn noted: “Practice, not rehearsal.” I’m working on making my life hearty, tasty and filling.