One of the things that I always find striking when I visit a predominantly Islamic country is the call to prayer.
Five times a day you basically have a reminder to detach from everything that feels oh-so-important right now and reconnect with your spiritual source. Five times a day you have the chance to put into perspective what we’re often too involved in to even think of stepping back from.
The Islamic places where I’ve been have been fairly secular, so I have yet to see anyone actually interrupt their activities to pray, but hearing the calls to prayer have been reminders for me to become conscious of where I am, what I’m doing, and generally, as Eckhart Tolle puts it, being conscious of being conscious.
So I started to think: how can I get something equivalent in my life? Here are three possibilities, in case they speak to you:
Julia Cameron, in her The Artist’s Way book and series has an interesting suggestion: the Morning Pages. This is a mind dump, usually first thing in the morning while we’re still gathering our wits, and which generates a level of self-awareness that has the potential to extend, if not for most of the day, then at least for most of the morning. Of course, we could also sit and meditate first thing in the morning instead, but for those who aren’t conversant in the Noble Art of Doing Nothing, having a way to empty the mind by acknowledging thoughts and releasing them, as it were, onto paper or electronic equivalent, is an easy way to get started and get some of the same effects.
Got your smartphone on you? I bet you do. Got five minutes of waiting time? Or a twenty-minute commute? Instead of checking your friends’ inane Facebook or Twitter updates (ahem!), install an app like Conzentrate (available for Android/ Google Play here or Android/Amazon Store here and for your iPhone/iPad here) and no matter where you are, it will provide a structure for you to meditate (recently improved with your choice of chants, Tibetan bells and more, plus assorted backgrounds that you can “unlock” in a clever game that gives you incentive to meditate longer and more frequently).
Of course, few things beat having a sangha, a spiritual community that you can join for your spiritual practice, but you seldom have the benefit or the luxury of daily gatherings. That being said, though, unless you live in the boonies, Meetup.com is a fabulous source: type your city and your preferred choice of connection, and you might find that in Topeka, Kansas, there too is a lunch-time meditation group just around the corner from your office, or a Buddhist sangha that starts right after work, or any number of other possibilities to connect with kindred souls that bring more spirituality into your life and keep the mindfulness flame alive.
Perhaps a single one of these options might not by itself bring your spiritual practice into daily living in the same sense that the five calls to prayer are meant to do, but a morning mindfulness practice reinforced by the Conzentrate app during the day, followed by connecting with others with similar intentions in a group setting are bound to synergistically support one another.
What other practices would you suggest to anyone looking to bring daily soulfulness into their practice?
Photo credit: Alison007