Everyday Holiness: Infusing Spirit in Daily Life
The season of Spring is rampant with the themes and symbols of rebirth and resurrection. Its arrival is accompanied by various rituals and ceremonies that reflect and honor the attributes of the season. Given the number of festivities, April can arguably be called one of the holiest of months. Although the term holiness is typically associated with formal religious practices, let’s take it outside of these structures and expand it to include other forms of secular spiritual practices that encompass the holy and the sacred.
Infusing Spirit in daily life means bringing your attention and awareness through words and actions to a felt sense of the Presence of Spirit. Since Spirit is ever-present in both non-visible and visible forms, including yourself, it’s about setting up the conditions that awaken you to that Presence. Although there are many number of ways to do so, I’ve distilled four ways that will facilitate that awareness, those moments without words where you experience the miraculousness of life!
There is a Hebrew word “ruach,” (pronounced roo-akh) that can mean wind, spirit, or breath, often with the double meaning of Holy Breath and Holy Spirit. It is one of the simplest ways that you can consciously become aware of Spirit expressing as the Life form known as you. In other words, conscious breathing reminds you that you are Spirit manifest in physical form! When you direct your attention to the miracle of your breathing you come to deeply appreciate the miracle of life itself.
To put it in perspective, on average we breathe about 23,040 breaths per day, 8,409,600 per year, and if you happen to live to be 80, you will have taken 672,768,000 breaths! To consciously infuse holiness into your everyday life, make it a point to periodically pause and put your entire focus on your breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply and note how that feels. Repeat a few times, then resume your normal breathing. You can also say “ruach” as you exhale, so your breathing becomes an invocation.
Another breathing pattern that I’ve found useful and accomplishes the intention of putting my focus and attention on my breath is what is called 4/7/8 breathing. It’s based on pranayama breathing exercises steeped in the ancient yogic practice of controlling your breath. It was further developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who refers to it as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” First, breathe in through your nose to a count of 4; then hold your breath for a count of 7; then exhale through your mouth to a count of 8; then repeat the sequence a few times and notice whatever is going on in your body.
Mindfulness is defined as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” There can be so many distractions that prompt us to avoid being mindful in the way described, yet making your best attempt to be fully present and focusing your awareness not only on your breathing, but on other sensations, feelings, and thoughts. This characteristic of self-reflective consciousness, where you simply observe without judgment whatever your experience is in the present moment, requires some practice.
In addition to the focus on your breathing, there are other practices that can support this way of detaching and observing your experience. Practice the art of surrendering to whatever life presents and respond to it accordingly. Doing so allows for your reactions to the circumstances, as well as your choice of response. Another is prayer, which creates an opportunity to infuse holiness into the circumstances whatever they are. Sincere and intentional prayer can have a powerful impact since it is supported by a Higher Source.
Last but not least, one that may surprise you is playfulness. Yes, playfulness. Think about times when you’ve played, either by yourself, with another person, or with a group. The play may be structured, as in the prescribed rules of the game, or can be completely spontaneous. Whatever kind of play you’re involved in, to be completely immersed in it requires you to acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations—just like the definition of mindfulness.
There are certainly times in life when it’s challenging to truly feel and even express gratitude. You plan something and life takes a different turn, or you simply wake up feeling grumpy and out of sorts. In extreme situations where there is considerable suffering, it can seem impossible to find anything at all to be thankful for. It takes clear intention and a change of mind to move to gratitude when you’re so affected. At the least, be thankful that you’re still breathing and you’re alive!
Often you can look back on these darker periods and recognize that they prompted you to make some significant changes in your life. I’ve heard many stories of how someone came through a period of suffering that initiated their awakening to spiritual realities, causing them to incorporate spirituality into their lives as a new standard of being. Often the spiritual journey starts with gratitude.
With a vibration of 540 MHz, gratitude is right up there with the vibration of love and joy; slightly higher than love and just below joy. The more time you spend in gratitude, the more your body’s frequency raises and the healthier your body becomes. It’s one of the highest vibrational frequencies you can experience.
You can express gratitude in words or actions and every expression is a blessing you bring to the world. Words that express gratitude can positively impact those who receive those sincere expressions. Statements such as, “I appreciate you,” “thank you,” “I’m grateful for you in my life,” and of course, “I love you,” all tend to raise the vibrational frequency of the speaker and will typically affect the receiver’s vibrational level as well. And of course, not only words but actions can express your appreciation. Giving a flower to someone, a gentle hand on the shoulder, a loving hug, or doing someone a favor are a few examples.
The Heartmath Institute, which has carried out considerable research into the vibrational characteristics of the heart, has determined that the electrical field of the heart is about 60 times greater than that of the brain, and that the electromagnetic field of the heart is up to 5000 times greater than that of the brain. This means that whatever your emotional state is, these energies extend out into the field around you! You do affect others simply by your presence.
Practice gratitude as much as you can and particularly note how you feel in your body and especially your heart. When I do so I feel uplifted and am aware of the sacredness of all that is. As I consistently express my thankfulness to Father Sky and Mother Earth for this opportunity to experience life as “me” on this amazing planet, I feel enchanted by the awesomeness of life!
The natural world is one of beauty, wildness, tempestuousness, and immense diversity. It can evoke both wonder and fear. We seek the wonder but can fear the wildness and unpredictability. For as long as humans have been on the earth there has been an increasing tendency to try and control the natural environment to our benefit, to make life more comfortable—for humans. We’re in the midst of experiencing the backlash from Mother Nature due to our embedded belief that this world was created for our use.
This mass forgetfulness has resulted in the most profound and impactful illusion that we can experience—that we are somehow separate from the natural world and all beings that dwell with us on this planet. This parallels the deception that we’re separate from Spirit, rather than knowing that we are merely physical manifestations of Spirit. We learned to treat all beings in this world as “objects” rather than seeing ourselves as being simply one part of the great Web of Life.
The good news is that there is an increasing awareness of how we have labored under this illusion and a corresponding pulse of collective desire to make amends with Earth Mother. It requires everyone who heeds the call to not just “spend time in Nature,” but to BE in Nature. To truly see, hear, and feel all of her majesty and mystery, to witness the cycles of death and rebirth constantly at play in a nonstop cycle ever since she was birthed into the Universe 4 ½ billion years ago.
Create as many opportunities as possible to be in the natural world, whether short forays into your backyard and immediate surroundings, or an extended walk or hike through the forest. Perhaps even a foray into a wilderness, an area where human intervention is prohibited or at least minimized. Sit with your back against a favorite tree and imagine breathing with the tree. Lay on the ground and feel Earth Mother’s breath. On a night where there’s no visible moon, away from city lights, gaze at the stars and express your thanks for being alive and able to witness the grandeur of the cosmos. Take your socks and shoes off and walk on the hallowed body of the Mother of us all.
Being totally present in the natural world no matter where you are will serve to remind you of who you really are—a holy being embracing the holiness of all life!
Every moment invites us to pay attention and to marvel at what is happening within ourselves and the world outside our skin. No matter how you do so or what form it takes, noticing and deeply appreciating the holiness of life always enhances the act of living.