This story is an excerpt from the essay "Balance" by Unitarian Universalist minister Susan Manker-Seale, included in the book Everyday Spiritual Practice: Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life, edited by Scott W. Alexander (Skinner House Books, 1999).
My daily spiritual practice is to balance. A major part of that practice involves balancing the busy, taking-for-granted moments of the day with moments to pause and appreciate what is before me in my life. I probably wouldn't even have considered this a spiritual practice, except that I've been learning to redefine the meaning of what is spiritual, and to ponder for myself what is important in my faith.
The message many of us have been given through our religious heritage is that if one wishes to be "spiritual," one must leave the worldly world. Yet the reality is that, if we have family and work, integrating a traditional spiritual practice into our daily lives is a real challenge. Try meditating with a baby in the next room!
We can practice spirituality in our daily lives, in our daily activities, by remembering to pause, pay attention, and feel appreciation for what is before us. Paying attention means using all of our senses in being in the world and in the moment. Stop a moment. Feel the chair in which you are sitting. Notice the temperature around you. Listen for the sounds of your background symphony. Breathe. Appreciate the colors of your clothes, your skin, the sky, or the ceiling. Focus on appreciating the peace out of which you have found the time to read or listen to these words. Remember the feeling of oneness with creation, and try to bring that back into being. This practice takes only a few moments and is not bound by place or time or ritual...
Out of our busy-ness, we are called back into balance, back into ourselves and the silence of present being. But it is not just back into ourselves to which we are called; it is also to the awareness of the continuous presence of the environment around us and within us. We are called to remember our relationships and our dependencies. We are called to once again feel the oneness which sustains our being in balance with creation, and to do so with wonder and appreciation.