Comfy JeansI’ve always liked the fact that for Catholics they identify by how they practice vs what they believe. There is the lapsed Catholic, the submarine Catholics who only surface twice a year (Christmas and Easter), and the Cafeteria crowd who pick and choose. There is the strict line of the Church and how things should be done and then there is the way things are actually lived which are usually kept fairly separate. In particular I think of the South American practices of keeping a home altar which is filled with native traditions as well as pictures of family and saints, Jesus and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Over the centuries they have brought the religion into their homes and their lives and made it their own.

In the spiritual community there is a lot of teaching and learning, of knowing and exploring, but not much is lived in. People talk about having “done that.”  I’ve done Reiki, astrology, runes, crystals, journeying, meditation, yoga, chanting, etc., etc., but I’m still looking. Underlying these statements is the understanding they have taken classes, gotten certified, tried someone else’s method, and even created a way of teaching them. They have learned them as a method to achieve something, to get somewhere, to find a key, to heal or make a change or create something.  Because they were unsatisfied in some way they have moved on to the next thing. Each next thing, new idea, new way seems like the next answer, but becomes another failed gizmo, the next obsolete tech gadget set aside when the newer model comes out.

What is missing from all this doing is the lived in quality of things. It’s the difference between acquiring intellectual knowledge, gaining mental mastery of a thing which may include some physical interaction and coming into relationship with it. There is a huge difference between mentally knowing choreography and actually performing it. In the performing we move beyond the idea merging the moment, the physical capabilities of our body, our surroundings, and everything else that we are into a blended whole that produces an expression formed of thought/intention/action/emotion/soul. The dance goes from concept to being lived in. The dancer makes it their own. Spiritual practices are like this as well. The physics of what they can do, what they are intended for, and what they mean are one thing, but once we make them our own, once we engage in a relationship with them, like the perfectly lived in pair of jeans, they become part of us and conformed to our shape, our needs, our being. Instead of doing spiritual things, we should be them and let them be with us. We should make them our own and in so doing we will create a unique expression of self that enriches the world.