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The Value of Spiritual Practice

December 7th, 2008

Cultivating the Mystery and returning Constantly to our Source

The spiritual, emotional, psychological goals we seek – of love, peace, trust, wisdom and so on – need time and the space to ‘arrive’ in our lives. It is in the silence, the gaps, the waiting, the ‘not knowing’, the reverence for the ‘Other’, that we have a chance to connect ourselves to something more than our wandering minds and anxious hearts.

Of course they’re not really ‘arriving’ – they are always there, we just need to still ourselves enough to become conscious of them, which is why spiritual practice is important.

Here the time-honoured methods shared by most paths offer ways we can do this: by meditating, taking retreats, observing sacred times and honouring sacred places. By taking advantage of these we can build the spiritual practice best suited to our needs, our temperament, and our circumstances. And in following this practice we can cultivate the Mystery and return constantly to our Source.

A hope at the present time in the story of Humanity is that more and more people are discovering this – and this is what is meant by the Great Awakening that we are witnessing. Finding a safe harbour involves not so much altering our physical circumstances as finding our spiritual home – and the spiritual practice best suited to anchor us in our sense of the Source, the Great Mystery at the heart of Creation.

Some, particularly those who are keen to actively fight against injustices in the world, might think this approach is selfish: “Oh great! Your solution to world problems is navel-gazing!” But to take this position would be to fail to understand the lesson of the goose that laid the golden eggs. Stephen Covey uses this idea as one of the cornerstones of his highly pragmatic and ethical approach to living effectively, as set out in his books, such as ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’. In Aesop’s story a farmer becomes fabulously wealthy because one of his geese lays eggs made of solid gold. After a while the farmer becomes greedy and kills the goose to get the eggs out of her, rather than waiting for them to be laid. Covey suggests we need to take care of the goose (ourselves) to ensure that it continues to lay golden eggs, rather than killing it through greed or neglect.

If we nourish our needs – and particularly our spiritual needs – we will be more effective activists, and less likely to suffer burn-out. Nowadays it is so easy to feel swamped by too much information – without care it is easy to get pulled from your anchored centre by becoming preoccupied with the details of the changing world. Every day depressing and upsetting news can be heard on the radio or television. For your own sanity you need to balance the effect of this information with a turning inward to draw strength and calm, otherwise you are likely to feel destabilised – pushed off-centre – and your ability to be of help to others will be diminished. To function effectively in this world long draughts from the still pool of Segais are needed – from the source of what are known in the Druid tradition as Awen and Nwyfre (inspiration and life-force).

5 Responses to “The Value of Spiritual Practice”

  1. Hello Mr Carrgom,
    Thanks for sharing this utter beautifull article with us. I come down to read here quite reguler, but this is the first time I post a comment. Just because I myself was thinking the other about the Goose and the golden eggs. What the story might mean, and how I could relate that in a drawing (my bardic skill)
    For this, I sincerely thank you.

    May the Awen keep inspiring you!
    Blessings from the Birch and the Sea

  2. Mediation really opened the door from my own spiritual growth. Since then, being out in nature has taken on a renewed role in that growth. I strive to make these practices more integral to each day in order to keep growing, and I also keep my eyes open for any new practices that may have something to teach.

  3. Thank you for this. Feeling a bit frazzled from a difficult couple of days, it was lovely to read this. I have been trying to develop better boundaries as a part of feeling myself spiritually rooted – I have difficulty with this but am learning. My inner grove has been such a blessing in this respect – that enclosing, upholding, safe space – and like Riverwolf, I tend to feel at my most sane and at peace out in nature too. I seem to have been around a great deal of cynicism of late (good boundary building practice!) which I find very draining (something deathly and destructive about cynicism which I find deeply depressing). My spiritual practice has been so vital to me in retaining that connection to Source in difficult times that you so beautifully write about. We are all vulnerable beings; its good to be able to stay in touch with our vulnerability as it can be the root of empathy and the fostering urge you previously wrote about. However, as you say, it’s so important to be tender with that part of ourselves too – seeking spiritual nourishment is probably the most important way we can do this for ourselves. Thanks again for such a timely reminder.

  4. Thank you so so much for the above article. I am presently trying to
    complete an essay on spirituality but there was something missing from
    it, that all important piece. I went to bed in despair last night and on
    wakening this morning I read a poem by David Whyte called The Sun
    and this led me to your site. God does work in mysterious ways if only
    we let him. HE guided me to you and your writings and from these I
    have that all important missing part for my essay.

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