“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault
One of the things I love about the Native American spiritual path is the focus on appreciating the simple things in life.
Simple things are often hard to relate to in today’s world of overwhelm.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, says we human beings currently create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of civilization up through 2003!
And yet our bodies were, and still are, designed to be in tune with the sun, the moon, the seasons, and the cycles of nature. That simplicity is what our souls long for.
So our adaption to the “modern age” has been fraught with peril to our peace of mind and our health.
Our ancestors greeted the sun each morning, enjoyed simple home-cooked meals, played with their children and grandchildren, and delighted in a beautiful sunset, with no television to lure them inside on a beautiful summer evening.
I am as tempted as the next person to watch a good TV show, but I have found that the evenings when I putter in the kitchen, making a healthy meal while listening to relaxing music, are much more fulfilling.
Finding Meaning in the Little Things
I designed my house around being able to have African violets in the kitchen window.
I did it because my grandmother had them in her kitchen window. That meant the kitchen window had to be in the south, because that gave them the best light.
So my entire house was designed around having a south-facing kitchen window for African violets.
Every time I stand at the kitchen sink and see them, I think of my grandmother. And it becomes a simple, heartfelt connection to the past.
Native Americans sought a simple, earth-based lifestyle also. No one who truly understood the responsibility involved ever sought to be a “medicine man.” They longed to be a simple human being, living a simple life.
My first Native American teacher, Sun Bear, said, “I’m not interested in any philosophy unless it can help me grow corn.” Meaning, knowledge that makes our lives better is what’s most valuable.
It’s fine to spend time philosophizing about lofty ideals, but how does that help you if you’re unable to enjoy a cup of tea, or a sunset, or delight in watching a child take her first steps?
Living a peaceful, fulfilling life is sacred.
Is There More to Life Than This?
I remember an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld in which Jerry Seinfeld was, for once in his life, thoughtful and sensitive. In reviewing his shallow life, he asked, “Isn’t there more to life than this?”
His neighbor Kramer replied, “I know the answer to that: There isn’t!”
What if there isn’t more to life than simplicity, appreciating every day, helping others, and being kind when we can? I think that’s not so bad!
I have two friends who recently retired and told me they asked themselves, “What should we do now with our time?”
And they decided they just want to help people. They’re very handy and told me that whenever I need something fixed around the house, to just call them and they’ll come fix it at no charge. They do it just for the pure joy of it.
It helps me enormously and gives them the fulfilling feeling of having helped someone. What a simple retirement solution.
And I get the joy of inviting them over to dinner as a thank you.
Spiritual Acts in Daily Life
Here are some things that I feel are sacred in life, and they certainly are simple. Perhaps making time to add them to your day will bring the sacred back into it:
3. Time in nature.
4. Time with children; they certainly know how to live in the moment.
5. Meal preparation. It’s an opportunity to pray over your food. Make it a meditation.
6. Greet the day. Watch the sun rise and say, ”Thank you.”
7. Say “goodnight” to the day and express gratitude for everything that happened that day.
8. Declutter your home, which also leads to decluttering your mind. I’m going through a massive purging right now, getting rid of things I no longer use. It feels as though I’m opening up my mind and soul for a fresh breeze to flow through and renew me.
9. Awake early to have time to meditate, breathe, and watch the birds, while slowly, mindfully, drinking a cup of coffee or tea.
10. When you feel the need to buy something, stop. Wait twenty-four hours. Why do you want it? Do you need it? What void is it filling? What else can fill it?
11. Do you keep the T.V. on without even watching it? Living alone, I am well aware that sometimes I like the T.V on just to hear the voices of other people. But I’ve recently taken to leaving the T.V. off and listening to music instead. So I still hear voices, but more pleasant ones.
Here are a few things turning off the T.V. can give you: time with a loved one, time for exercise, time for meditation, time for self, time to observe nature, time for a nap.
Why not take some time to slow down, incorporate some of these spiritual acts into your day, and see what a difference it makes?