Sunday Service: Packing and the Value of Spiritual Routine

My bags

Week of May 18 – 24, 2014

This Week’s Spiritual Talk

Packing and the Value of Spiritual Routine

By Peter Kowalke

This morning I packed my bags and flew to Delhi from the Mumbai exurbs of Pune, where I had been staying with a wonderful unschooling family I met during my time in India last year. While packing my carry-on and laptop bags, the only two bags I have during my six months in India, I was struck by the similarity between my packing style and the routine of good spiritual practice.

My bags are very organized and precise. Some might say too organized; the contents of my carry-on is packed into six smaller bags of various sizes that precisely fit into the larger bag like blocks in the game of Tetris.  Each garment is folded according to specially-sized folding boards that travel with me, used or wet clothes are vacuum-packed using compression bags, socks act as shoe trees for the pair of loafers I keep in the bag, exercise bands wrap around the loafers, and the Turkish Delights I share with my hosts are sealed and protected in perfectly-sized Tupperware.

Some laugh at the packing system I employ, and I admit that it feels like overkill when others quickly stuff a few items in their bag while I fuss with mine. The fact remains that I tote a remarkable amount of supplies within one small carry-on, however: hot weather clothes for the days, cold weather clothes for Northern India’s chilly nights, formal wear, backpacker garb, custom-made “Teach me Hindi” shirts, exercise clothes, quick-drying clothes, and—because I typically lose 20 to 30 lbs when I visit India—clothes in several sizes. All in one carry-on. Along with exercise equipment, gifts and business cards.

Assembling my stuff is more than packing. The organizational system maximizes space, but it also makes it a routine. This is where packing my bag evokes the benefits of spiritual routine.

(read more)


Teachings of the Christian MysticsBook of the Month

Teachings of the Christian Mystics

edited by Andrew Harvey

The Christian mystics remain little known among Vedantins and Christians alike, yet they explore many of the same ideas of Vedanta. This book takes selections from all eras of the Christian tradition, including Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton and others.

(get the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend YouTube videos, audio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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