I’ve recently realized, there aren’t many spiritual resources for a person juggling multiple responsibilities in life. I’ve read a lot of books designed for priesthood, warriors, spiritual seekers, advanced students, etc. I found very little reference, not to mention actual help, for someone who maintains a professional career, works 10+ hours a day, keeps a home in addition (including all such mundane activities as doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, watering plants and feeding the dog), has a spouse, takes care of children (or elderly parents/other dependents, for that matter), volunteers on a regular basis, and desperately attempts to fit a few hobbies in there too.
If one’s goals include attuning with divinity, personal growth, taking responsibility, involvement in the community and helping others – then one is committed to a lifelong process of spiritual practice. However, there is a difference between committing to a lifelong spiritual journey, and devoting one’s whole life for spirituality.
Most resources are written by the latter: fine people who dedicate every minute of their time for spiritual practice. Often, they are priests, teachers, or full time writers. Usually they have great insights, but sometimes, their perspective seems too narrow, at least for me. Not anything they do on purpose, I’m sure, but really, how can someone with 24 hours a day at their disposal for working with the divine can understand the struggle to find 10 minutes a day for prayer or meditation between the never-ending dishes, pressing errands, and quarterly goals at work?
Some books even contain offensive remarks. Certain authors unabashedly declare that if you don’t find X hours a day for performing certain meditations, prayers or exercises, for example, then you cannot be considered a “serious student”, and perhaps spiritual growth “isn’t for you”.
For almost two years now I’ve been trying to solve this problem of finding the time for spiritual practice. I’ve consulted all my books, read hundreds of online articles, and talked about this with friends, teachers and former mentors. Everyone told me the same thing: you must find more time.
But finding more time basically means to abandon my marriage (a very time consuming affair), move out of my own home into a rented flat that I wouldn’t have to nurture because it isn’t mine, eat fast/processed food, give my dog up for adoption, find another legal guardian for my autistic sister, tell my elderly mother to find someone else to help her with errands, and quit my job. Needless to say I don’t want to do any of those things. I love my husband, I adore my home, I enjoy cooking healthier food, I want to help my mother, and I definitely want to keep my career.
Slowly, I’m beginning to realize that for me, with my hectic schedule, I shouldn’t even bother to find separate time for prayer or meditation on a daily basis. What I should do, instead, is turn every mundane act in my life into an offering of love.
I think that if I cut every vegetable with intention, wash every piece of laundry with full awareness, and breathe deeply as I give each plant in my garden just the right amount of water it needs, then the cooking and the laundry can be my direct path for divinity, no less useful or meaningful than sitting in silent meditation.
But as I said in the beginning of this post, I’ve recently realize that there aren’t many resources about how to do this well.
Perhaps this is my new spiritual challenge.