I’ve begun to realize that maintaining a spiritual life is a bit like sticking to an exercise regime. Use it or lose it, as they say. The muscles atrophy quickly — though they also retain their memory. It is a paradox of my current life that as I am on the road promoting Devotion, it is hard to find the time — the hour or two or three a day — to maintain the practices I learned and developed during the years spent writing the book. These are practices I fully intend to maintain for the rest of my life — but how to reconcile a fast-pace, overfull life with the rigors of silence and contemplation? Most days, as I prepare for appearances, or travel, I don’t have ninety minutes to do yoga, or a half hour to sit in silent meditation. So what is to be done?
Some of the wisest people around me have suggested that everything is an opportunity to practice. Everything. When I am helping my son with his homework, that is a practice. When I’m stocking up the kitchen cupboards because I’m going to be away for a week, that is a practice. When I’m responding to the beautiful letters I receive every day about Devotion, that is a practice. Recently I was walking down the street in New York City, and I was in a grumpy mood. I began, quite unexpectedly to do a walking Metta meditation. May you be safe, I silently said to the man in the suit walking towards me. May you be happy, to the glamorous woman talking on her cell phone. May you be strong, to the elderly woman. May you live with ease, to the construction worker in the hard hat. Suddenly, walking down the street was a practice. And me? I was no longer grumpy.