This is Part Two in a series on Adaptive Spiritual Practice. Read Part One here!
Letting Go of What You Don’t Need
In addition to figuring out what does work for your spiritual practice right now, you also need to consider what isn’t working. Letting go of what you don’t need will free up space and energy for you to do what nourishes you more. And just because something isn’t meeting your needs right now, doesn’t mean that it never will again. Circumstances change, and our spiritual practices must adapt.
For me, formal ritual was one of the first things that needed to go out the door. Most of my rituals don’t tend to be formal anyway, but once the pandemic hit, I had neither the time nor the energy to cast a formal circle except on rare occasions. Our quarter calls and invocations during this ritual are a good example of informal ritual. Doing an informal ritual that nourishes you is much better than procrastinating on a fancy formal ritual because you don’t feel like you have the energy.
As you are thinking of the different aspects of your practice – What if a particular practice that you need to let go of was actually serving you, but circumstances have made it difficult or impossible to do? If this is the case, I encourage you to brainstorm to see if there is an alternative practice that could meet that need better or more easily in this challenging time. Perhaps your once thrice-daily prayers feel impossible right now, but prayer is one of the major ways that you connect to the Divine. Is there a way for you to pray once a day, and have it still meet your needs?
When you are assessing your practices, you need to not only look at the practice itself, but also the frequency and particular way you perform the practice. In my own Pagan practice in the time of COVID, I still do a lot of the same activities, but the frequency and the way that I do the activities has changed. I still make offerings, but they are less frequent and consist of what hasn’t been panic-bought out of the grocery store that week. I’ve found I am actually praying more now, during the pandemic, than I did before. I may not meditate as often as I used to before the plague, but I have made leaps and bounds of progress in journeying that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.
Just because the circumstances of the pandemic are bad doesn’t mean that you need to think of the resulting changes in your spiritual practice as bad, or even just as coping mechanisms. Trying new things and opening up to flexibility may allow your practice to evolve in a way that wasn’t possible before the pandemic. You may find new things that you want to carry on in your practice in the future, or you may find new ways of doing old things that work better, pandemic or not.
Take a minute to think about the spiritual practices that are no longer serving you. What isn’t working as well as it used to? What can you let go of? Keep in mind that letting go of a practice right now doesn’t mean you need to let go of it forever. You can honor the importance of a particular practice while still acknowledging that it is unsustainable at the current moment. You can always pick it back up when the pandemic is over, if you like. Or you may discover something new and better to take its place!
Suggested contemplation music:
Changing What Devotion Means to You
We also need to talk about devotion. The pandemic does not change your devotion to your spiritual path, but the form your devotion takes may look different these days.
You may not have the same amount of time or energy to devote to your spiritual practice. And that is okay. Before the pandemic, spiritual devotion may have included prayers in the morning, a meal blessing at lunch, and meditating every evening. These days, I am lucky if I can convince myself to get out of bed on time, nevermind all the other things.
I think the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” can definitely apply here. Part of this involves reimagining what devotion looks like in the COVID-19 world. What aspects of devotion to Divinity are really important to you? Try to think of this in broader terms than just the actions you would normally perform.
For example, instead of “meditate for twenty minutes each day” – What do you get out of your meditation? Is that a time to calm your racing mind? A time to converse with Deity? Or to simply listen to the universe? It may be multiple things, but try to tease out exactly why you do what you do, and which of these are the most important to you when your time or energy may be limited.
For me, daily spiritual connection with Aphrodite is essential. Now, this can be accomplished in a myriad of ways. Meditation is one of them, but so is singing in the shower or dancing around my living room. It could also be a quick prayer while I am savoring the first bite of my meal, or admiring the beautiful pink colors of the sunset.
If I am able to look at devotion as a daily spiritual connection instead of being locked into twenty minutes of meditation every evening, my opportunities open up. I am more easily able to meet that need, no matter what life may throw at me on any particular day. Changing my relationship to devotion makes that possible.
Pick one or two spiritual practices that are important to you, but have been difficult during the pandemic. Try to tease out why they are important (like with my meditation example), and brainstorm other ways to meet that need. If you can’t think of any alternatives right now, that is okay! See if something surfaces over the next week or two.
Suggested contemplation music:
For more posts on modern Paganism and serving the Goddess of Love, visit www.priestessofaphrodite.com