The Practice of Spiritual Reading

This morning I began with my usual reading as I downed my first cup of coffee. This has been a daily practice for me for years. I think I began in my twenties. The material I read in the AM is of a spiritual nature, which could include self-help books or even biographies. Since I am a writer, I often journal on the ideas that authors present. This practice has had a huge influence on the way of my life. I suppose I could say that the writers have done more to make me who I am today than anything. The choices I have made and my over-all attitude are reflections of the wisdom I have found in the words in the books I have read.

As I walk along side others in this journey called life, I often share with them my practice. Each person has to choose for themselves what helps them as they maneuver life’s bumps and turns, so I usually do my sharing gently, as a sort  of invitation rather than as one of those annoying “shoulds” people lay on one another. I notice that when people give reasons why they don’t think reading spiritual books will work for them, the most common is lack of time. This is what I want to address here in this blog. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Would you tell the physical therapist after an injury that you don’t have time for the suggested exercises to relieve your pain?  The practice of spiritual reading each day can do for our spiritual and emotional pain what physical exercise does for our body’s pain. So the question might be, “How much do you enjoy the pains that life presents to you?”
  2. My inability to make exercise a part of my life turned around one day when I thought to myself, “You’ve always got ten minutes.” I was always afraid of being late for work so I never even started exercise. (God forbid that I should get up earlier!) But when I realized that just a few minutes a day was better than nothing, it freed me to move ahead. I learned that 90% of creating a new habit of exercise was starting and that even five minutes will accomplish overcoming that problem. The same is true of reading. Books with little two to three paragraph reflections are really popular today. Some parallel certain religious or philosophical paths and others life circumstances. I have seen daily meditation books for people in recovery, codependents, mothers and fathers, and people going through divorce or grieving. Five minutes of reading and you can do your reflecting in the car.
  3. The wisdom I need to get me through life situations comes to me in other ways besides my reading. It comes through people, events, other media, and nature. Sometimes I feel like spiritual guidance is coming from the atmosphere. For me, it is God’s guidance in many forms, in any place, any time. But I have to attribute much of my ability to “see” and “hear” to the reading. Many authors have given me the tools of how to attune myself. These are especially helpful because I can take these tools with me wherever I go.
  4. When we have problems, we usually want fast results. The help I get as I do my spiritual reading is not usually what I would call fast. Most important changes take a long time. Sometimes I just have to trust that the words of wisdom I am reading are making changes. Often it is with hindsight that I notice these changes. They most often occur in me first before I notice them in people or circumstances around me.

That makes me wonder about my own part in the problems in my life. But I don’t want to dwell too much on that idea or no one would consider my suggestion.