Taking It Home
Read Handout 1: A Unitarian Universalist Prayer Bead Practice. Experiment with it. You may wish to create your own set of prayer beads as described in the handout. You can also use the handout to compose your own personally meaningful prayer, with or without beads. Practice praying in this way daily and see how it shapes you.
Journal about your experiences of meditation and prayer. Which have you engaged in? What was it like for you? What are the most personally meaningful forms of meditation and prayer you've experienced? Where would you like to go with a personal spiritual practice?
Discuss personal spiritual practices with friends, family, co-workers, or housemates. What practices have they found meaningful? If they don't engage in personal spiritual practices, why not? What needs and longings might be fulfilled by engaging regularly in prayer, meditation, or other personal spiritual practices?
Follow these tips for developing your personal spiritual practice:
- Establish a regular time for your spiritual practice. Try your best to stick to it. Make an appointment with yourself, put it on your calendar or in your date book, and treat it like any other appointment. If you try to "find time" for spiritual practice somewhere in your day, you're likely to find this universal truth—you're busy! Remember that making a decision to spend time with your spirit is the first step of every practice.
- Create a special place for your practice. If you're lucky enough to have a free room that you can devote to prayer, meditation, painting, or whatever it is you're doing, great. But you can also just free up a corner of a room. Creating a space is like creating a time—when the appointed time comes and you move into your sacred space, you'll already be on your way.
- Set a time limit. Decide in advance how much time you intend to spend on your practice. This way you don't have an excuse for giving up too easily if it's boring or difficult, and also you don't have to worry that you're going to "lose yourself." Remember, this is a practice. No one who is serious about exercise would go to the gym intending to work out until she/he drops from exhaustion. The same principle applies here.
- Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that being distracted from your practice is similar to being distracted within your practice. Simply notice that you've fallen out of the habit and, without any recriminations, begin again.
- Remember to be grateful. The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, "If you only manage one prayer in your life, and it is 'Thank you,' it will suffice."