Go to nature
There is a long tradition of Buddhist monastics living simple lifestyles in the forests. Buddha himself attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and taught in nature. Just like him, the great 20th Century Thai forest monk, Ajahn Buddhadasa not only practiced for decades in the forests, he also gave most of his teachings outdoors and those listening - sat on the ground among the trees. Don’t worry, we fully understand the demand of modern lifestyle and we’re not urging you to move into a forest cabin. Even if you don’t feel very enlightened after having had your coffee in the park, you’ll surely sense the positive influence on your mood, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. A greater calmness, joy and presence might arise naturally. If not - still good! Put those hiking shoes on and try again!
Create a sacred place and time
Historically, altars are used as a spiritual representation of divine energy, where objects of worship rest, and you can practice whatever you believe within them. But in the context of your home, an altar doesn't necessarily have to be related to anything religious or spiritual - instead, it can simply remind you of what you love, and what empowers you. An altar serves as a visual focus of your spiritual intentions, as a place to be quiet, to re-calibrate your mind, and rebalance your energy. You can place anything which gladdens your mind and softens your heart whether that’s Mickey Mouse or a picture of your dog. According to psychology theories a simple conditioning is happening - a certain space (stimulus) will evoke a particular reaction (response). In other words - light up that candle and you’ll feel better.
Let’s demystify the term - meditation. Firstly, there is no such thing as not being able to meditate. Secondly, meditation is not something you do, but rather happens to one’s self. Wait a minute… what? What about sitting quietly and focusing on your breath for… like forever? Good question. All of these are concentration practices, which are a way to tend our inner garden. We can plant the seed, water it, might add compost, but we have no control over the sun or the weather. Or as it’s being said: “Enlightenment is an accident, but spiritual practice makes one accident prone”. So, meditation happens naturally in its own rhythm, but we, as practitioners, slowly and patiently learn how to be quiet and focus. Normally, there is a concentration object - it could be movement (stillness in action), like in yoga - the body is used as a vehicle, or the breath, a mantra, a visualisation, or a sacred text. Start where you are, as you are, without expectations and trust the process. Allow your inner flower to blossom!
Express yourself creatively
Carl Jung believed images are expressions of deep human experience and our authentic selves. Creativity might be the natural and primary language of the psyche, whispering ideas and feelings beyond words. 700 years ago, the Sufi poet Rumi wrote about two intelligences. The first one is called “acquired knowledge” or book learning, which we’re all familiar with. The other? “This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out”. Does it sound like a creative expression? That’s right. Engaging in the arts as a spiritual practice means honouring the process of meaning making, of cultivating a relationship to mystery. Paolo Knill, one of the founders of expressive arts therapy says: “The practice of the arts, as disciplined rituals of play in painting, sculpting, acting, dancing, making music, writing, story-telling, is and always was a safe container, a secure vessel to meet existential themes, pathos and mystery.”
Have you ever heard of karma yoga? The common representation of this ancient science about happiness is a super flexible person in tight leggings, maybe putting a leg behind their head. However, one of the most transformative practices is karma yoga or in other words: service. Or as it’s being said: “Kindness is the new cool”. It can be applied to everything you do: from the most trivial, ordinary tasks to greater, more challenging works. When action is performed selflessly, with full focus and attention, it brings fulfilment and freedom. Why? One of the reasons is that selfless service allows us to step out of our small, constructed identity, personal troubles and feel our mutual relation. Joy or struggle is not anymore, MY joy and MY struggles, but rather a natural, cyclical, impersonal energy currents.