What is a ‘Daily Practice’ you might ask? The Collins dictionary defines the noun ‘practice’ as: doing something regularly in order to do it better. Having a ‘Daily Practice’ therefore would be ‘doing something daily in order to do it better’! Some might call this a ‘spiritual practice’, but I prefer not to use that term as it doesn’t appeal to everyone and it might actually deter some people from creating their own Daily Practice. We can all benefit from a Daily Practice.
Bottom line is – life is chaos! We are totally over-stimulated in today’s society, filled with responsibilities left, right and centre. Daily Practice is a small attempt to create a little balance amongst the chaos. An opportunity to pause just for a moment and reconnect to something deeper, beyond the duties we have on our schedule. This is something we can all benefit from doing daily, even for just a few moments.
Why a Daily Practice?
Have you ever had problems with your computer after leaving it on for a long period of time? It may overheat or the battery can run down. Even if you have the charger plugged in, over time it will reduce the battery life. For most of us the first step in resolving a technical issue with our computer is to turn it off for a few seconds and re-boot it. In many ways we run in a similar way to a computer. Our battery can run down if we’re constantly on the go. Almost all active things need a break. An opportunity to rest and re-set. A Daily Practice can be like a quick re-boot for our system!
In brief a Daily Practice will make you happier and healthier. But that’s such a broad way to describe it. More specifically, the following are benefits of a Daily Practice and it is these benefits that will lead you to a happier and healthier life:
- A Daily Practice creates some stillness in your busy life. How often do you really, truly allow yourself to relax without any kind of stimulus? Without your phone, the radio, the tv, a newspaper, a book, a podcast, chatting to others, or chatting to yourself? We are literally on the go for most of our waking hours. A lot of people are so over-stimulated that their mind is still switched on during their sleeping hours, resulting in insomnia or broken sleep. If you don’t choose to take a moment of stillness, it won’t be presented to you. We have so much stimulus in our daily lives that If we don’t choose to pause for a few moments, we can literally keep going and going and going. This isn’t sustainable for anyone and our bodies can’t cope with constant stimulus – it results in a constant state of stress for our bodies, which can cause damage over the long term.
- An opportunity to relax and re-set your nervous system. The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. Together they are responsible for the control of the body and communication among its parts, both consciously and unconsciously. If the nervous system remains consistently stimulated and constantly flooded with stress hormones such as Adrenaline and Cortisol, this can lead to disruption of all your body’s processes, such as digestion, circulation and breathing. A Daily Practice can allow us to step out of the Sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight) and into the Parasympathetic nervous system response (rest and digest), which slows the heart rate, increases digestive activity and helps our muscles to relax.
- A chance to ‘tune in’. If your body and mind is in a constant state of activity, how can you expect to tune in to the subtle voice of your intuition? The mind is a powerful tool and used wisely can produce incredible things. However, being human means that we often have a lot of unnecessary mental chatter on the go, which is also over-stimulated by our modern lifestyles. If we do not choose to pause and tune in to our deeper self, beyond the mind, we will be distracted by at least one of a million other things! A daily practice offers a moment to pause, quieten the chatter and allow intuitive messages to come through, which can help you on your path forward in life.
- A moment to nurture yourself. Life is full of responsibilities – work, family, friends, extra- curricular activities, and all the other things that are part of life in the 21st While you might deem those other things essential and important, how often do you take time out to simply nurture yourself? Earning money, looking after family, catching up with friends, enjoying a hobby or playing a sport may all be really important for your quality of life, however sometimes we simply need to take some time out for self. A Daily Practice offers a few moments to not have to think about anything or anyone but YOU. It is a chance to really offer a nurturing moment to yourself. It is a chance for you to receive. No doubt you give a lot in your daily life, so for just a few moments in each day you deserve to receive a little bit of tender love and care from yourself too.
- A opportunity to align with your soul. A Daily Practice is a wonderful way to keep coming back to your soul. To take some time out from the mind, from responsibilities, from all the ‘things’ of life and reconnect with that driving force of who you really are. Aligning daily with your soul will keep you connected to your deeper truth, rather than your ego. The ego can keep you in a driven state as you strive to be accepted and acknowledged by the external world. But being guided by soul allows you to follow your heart, giving it space to be heard. It will help you live a life that is fueled by passion and inspiration as you live your life connected to your purpose.
Steps to help you develop a sustainable Daily Practice:
- Why? First step is to discover your ‘why’. What value would a Daily Practice provide in your life? The clearer you are on your intention, the more inspired you will be to continue with it.
- Create a sacred space. You don’t need to be in an ashram or a forest to be in a sacred space. You can easily develop a sacred space in your own home. It may just be a little nook in your bedroom or perhaps you’re lucky enough to be able to have a whole room to devote to your Daily Practice – the important thing is to create it in a way that feels sacred to you. It could be that you make an altar on your shelf, or maybe you have a couple of special cushions you bring out to meditate on. The important thing is that it is a space that is free of distractions (physical, mental and sensory) and it feels comforting and nurturing to be there.
- Be present with your body and emotions. Don’t get caught in the trap of the mind – we use it enough in our day to day actions! If you can allow yourself to go beyond the mind in your practice you will get so much more out of it. If you can allow yourself to bring your awareness to ALL the things that are present in your body, including your emotions, you will be able to release aches and pains that you didn’t know you were holding onto. Sure it might mean that in the beginning you feel a whole lot more, but those emotions are probably not new. Many of them will have been suppressed and tucked away in the past. You are likely to release them at some stage – might as well start now! A Holistic approach to a daily practice means improvements in all areas of your life as you let go of the past and start living more actively in the present.
- The best results will come from a daily practice. Make it something that is realistic and attainable (and enjoyable). If you cannot commit to a 1 hour yoga session every morning, then don’t make that your Daily Practice. Perhaps that could be a weekly thing for you. Even if you can only manage to commit to 5 minutes each day – that’s fine. The best thing is to create some kind of Daily Practice that gives you all the benefits listed above. You can always build on it and add more to your practice as you begin to feel the benefits it brings into your life.
- Track your progress. One of the best ways to see the changes that come from a Daily Practice is to journal. Humans are incredibly adaptive and it can be very easy to forget how you felt last week, let alone last year! Before you start your Daily Practice, it can be really beneficial to take the time to do a scan throughout your body and notice any areas of tension or places that get your attention. Notice how you are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. Take note of it and write it down. Once you have completed your practice, do this same scan and again write down what you notice and any difference in how you feel. Each week take a little look over your notes to see what you’ve noticed. Not only will it help you remember what changes you have been experiencing, it can be a beneficial way to see the progress you are making and a wonderful incentive to keep up your Daily Practice.
Ideas for a Daily Practice:
A Daily Practice can take many forms. You could choose a few asanas from your favourite type of yoga. There are many different types of meditation – find one that works for you. You could commit to a daily 10 minute walk, focusing on your Dan Tien or Hara, the place just below your belly button. Qi gong is a great practice and provides the opportunity to slow down, tune in and release built up energy. Perhaps you prefer to choose a daily tarot card and place it on your altar as a reminder of what your soul needs on this day. Even simply pausing for a few moments to take 3 conscious breaths or light a candle can serve as a Daily practice. Anything that helps you pause and reflect, turn within and re-balance for a few moments.
It also doesn’t have to be a private practice, although allowing some personal time is important. You could attend a group meditation or yoga class. You might even like to use an app – there are many out there these days. A good starting point might be the ‘Calm’ app, which focuses on mindfulness and the basic app is free.
Schedule your Daily Practice time. Book it in your diary if you have to. Don’t let time be a restriction for you. The time you put in will be well rewarded.
It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of ‘stuff’ of life. A daily practice can keep reminding you, little by little, how and where you are lost and helping to bring you back a little closer to your soul. Don’t make it a chore. Make it something that uplifts and enlivens you. While a Daily Practice is excellent first thing in the morning as a way to create clarity physically, mentally and emotionally for the day ahead – if that wont work for you, do your Daily Practice in the evening and make it a way to shake off the day you’ve just had.
The benefits of a Daily Practice go far beyond what I can put here in words for you. I can tell you from my own experience that starting a Daily Practice 12 years ago absolutely changed my life. These days I know that getting up 20 minutes earlier has benefits that far outweigh the way I feel by the end of the day if I don’t take that time for myself. Plus I know it has had an impact on the way I live my life by being more connected to my soul. But don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself. I’d love to hear how you go.
I wish you an empowering journey with your Daily Practice.