"I don't have the time."
"I've been too busy."
"I have other obligations."
Every day, it is tempting to blame our schedules and obligations for the lack of time to spend in devotional activities such as meditation, altar-tending, communing with nature, or personal divination. After all, there are so many things that we have to pay attention to: work, home life, family life, community obligations, and more. Each of these is a major distraction from dedicated spiritual activity, right? It's hard to find the time to do the small things that give us spiritual centeredness and consolation when we have so much going on. It's hard to find the time for self-care when we have so many duties. It's hard to find the time to still the mind when we are saturated in a world of nonstop communication.
This is the story about time that we tell ourselves when we realize that yet another day has passed without a visit to our shrines or a session of seated meditation or that walk we planned to take so we could listen to the trees. So often, we sacrifice spiritual self-care to another, more seemingly vital, activity. And, let's be honest, sometimes we sacrifice spiritual self-care so that we can sit on the couch and watch a TV show or play on our phones. It's not always work that takes a higher priority than our spiritual lives. In fact, sometimes we build up our spiritual activity in our minds as "work" and then we seek to escape it instead of fulfilling it with joyful hearts.
But what if you took the time, nonetheless? What might that change in your mind? What if you could remember that the spiritual activities that you think of as "work" actually refresh and rejuvenate you? What if you wove spiritual activity so closely into your life that it became as natural to you as brushing your teeth or eating food every day?
What if you did not wait until it's too late?
For the next week, try this every day: attach one aspect of spiritual practice to a non-negotiable daily activity. Bring your child with you to the shrine to recite one single hymn or light a candle. Take 5 minutes of silence in the morning right after you put on your clothes. Spend three minutes in quiet gratitude at the start of each meal. Recite one mala of OM MANI PADME HUM during your commute, quietly or internally if you have to. If you have to walk to the mailbox, take the long way and talk to a tree. Append your practices to your obligations, and therefore sanctify those obligations. See what happens when practice is woven into life instead of separate from it. See what happens when you choose to control your time rather than letting it control you.
"I don't have the time."