“Where do you find the time?” That’s a really good question. Many of us find that our days are so very busy. There’s everything involved with maintaining a home, work responsibilities, community involvements, commitments to family and friends….and well, sleep needs to fit in there, too. It’s a very hectic pace.
Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been totally slammed at work. For two weeks this past month, I put in about 65 hours at work each week. It felt like a relief when the pace slowed and I was under 60 hours last week. A few projects came out of nowhere. Then there was a technology overhaul and, of course, things didn’t work the way they were supposed to. It was a lot to deal with at once.
The weather hasn’t helped. That’s true for much of the world. North America has had a horribly cold winter with severe snow and ice storms, which makes doing day to day things more difficult. My friends in Australia have had a sweltering summer, which is as equally exhausting as the frigid temperatures in the North.
In the midst of all the very real demands and responsibilities in life, where does one find time for regular spiritual practice? Many people ask me that question. Some tell me that they think it’s easy for me. I know that they don’t understand that it’s not that my life is less busy than most people. Instead, taking the time for spiritual practice is a priority for me.
While I much prefer being leisurely about spiritual practice, when I’m faced with overwhelmingly busy periods like this past month, I return to a very disciplined approach to prayer. My time for spiritual practice begins and ends my day. In the morning, as soon as the coffee brewed and the cat is fed, I sit with my first cup of coffee for twenty minutes of prayer and meditation. If I have to get up a bit earlier to have this time, that’s just what I have to do.
At the end of the day, after I’ve completed the bedtime ablutions and brushed my teeth, my last task before turning off the lights is another 15 to 20 minutes of prayer and meditation. Yes, I sometimes start to drift off to sleep before finishing my contemplative practice. But since the light is still on, I wake myself back up and continue this time for prayer.
To be honest, if I don’t keep this practice, the quality of my life, work, and ability to be patient with others will be severely diminished. This regular practice helps to keep me grounded as it helps me to treat others compassionately.
I know many people find it challenging to find a time and place for spiritual practice. But many busy people find creative solutions to help them make time to nurture their souls. One woman who sees me for spiritual direction usually brings her lunch to work. She closes the door to her office, eats quickly at her desk, and then spends twenty minutes in meditation. I’ve known many parents with young children who could only find time alone by going closing themselves in the bathroom for their practice of meditation. The kids don’t bother them if they were in the bathroom.
I recently taught a course on self-care to a group of people preparing for authorized ministry in my denomination, the United Church of Christ. Many of the students work full time, are involved with their local church, and have family responsibilities. As we talked about spiritual practice in the course as something essential to self-care, they struggled with finding the time for contemplative practice in their day to day lives. I shared my concern that if they didn’t find a way to build spiritual practice in their lives by the time they are licensed or ordained as ministers, it would only become more difficult to find time. The level of responsibility for others only increases.
How does one find the time for spiritual practice? It simply needs to become a priority in one’s life. It will become more of a priority by simply taking time for regular practice even if it’s just for ten minutes of quiet meditation on most days. One doesn’t have to start with lots of time. Instead, regularity is more important than a long period of time for spiritual practice.
Ultimately, we find the time for regular spiritual practice by simply doing it. In a few weeks, with regular spiritual practice, you’ll quickly discover how the quality of your life begins to change. Many things will become easier as you develop greater focus in the tasks you are accomplishing. In the end, you will find that regular spiritual practice helps you to do the things you need to do each day with greater ease and comfort. It will be worth the effort.
Yes, we’re all very busy today. We all have many demands on us. It’s especially because of this that we need to care for ourselves by taking time to be centered and grounded, even if it’s just ten minutes each day.
© 2014, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.