Our spiritual life is like singing. Most of us can sing, but few of us do it in public. Even fewer can do it in public without embarrassment! Try these simple, soulful, spiritual workouts to help develop your religious voice so that you can--to use the words of the Psalms - "sing a new song to God."

Therefore I Am

French philosopher Rene Descartes wrote, "I think, therefore I am." But what if thinking isn't the reason for your existence?

What word or phrase might you substitute for "I think"?

Here are a few ideas:

  • I complain, therefore I am.
  • I have stuff, therefore I am.
  • I improve on things, therefore I am.
  • My parents procreated, therefore I am.
  • I create, therefore I am.
  • God loves me, therefore I am.

Every version gives a very different perspective on life. Meditate on what you would put in the blank and see what you discover.

Spend Time 'Not Doing'

Parkinson's Law (named after 20th-century British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson) states, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." That's just the way it is.

Paradoxically for adults, it takes work and planning in order to successfully rest. Can you spend five minutes today not doing? How about 10 minutes? Or a half hour?

Take a 'Universe Job Survey'

I saw the following quote: "Many people want to serve God, but only as advisors." If we aren't here to advise God, what is our job?

Here's a way to think about answering that question: Imagine for a moment that the universe was your employer. Based on the way you actually live your life--not on how you wish you did - how would you answer the following questions on The Universe's Job Survey:

  • What is your job title?
  • What department do you work in?
  • How high-ranking are you in your department?
  • Do you have a job description?
  • Does your job have fixed hours or benefits?

Create Your Own Holy Day

Rather than commemorate a truly significant religious or secular event, many of our culture's holidays are invented and exist primarily for commercial purposes. If you could invent a holiday what would it be?

  • Bob, my brother-in-law, advocates "Creativity Day."
  • Larry, my friend the retired minister and sociology professor, likes the idea of an "International Day of Contrition."
  • I would have everyone celebrate "Faith Day."

What "holy day" do you think should be observed?

Give Yourself Advice

If you could go back in time to when you were half your current age, what advice would you want to give yourself?

Might you tell yourself:

  • to have more faith?
  • to love more freely?
  • to be less anxious?

And, if you were to take that advice today, how might that change your current outlook?

Try New Words

For the rest of the day, see if you can substitute the verb "get" for "have." For example, if you were going to say, "I have to check my email," say instead, "I get to check my email." It's amazing how the little change of one word can affect our attitude.

Read an Email from God

Imagine you open your inbox and find an email with the subject line: An email from God. What do you imagine the message would contain?

  • Praise?
  • Condemnation?
  • An answer to a question that you've been asking?
  • Advice?
  • A forwarded joke?

What about your response? What would you write back? How would you sign it?

Surprise Yourself

Imagine that at half the age you currently are, you fell asleep. And imagine that you slept right through (like Washington Irving's story of Rip Van Winkle) until today. What five things about your own life and the world would be most surprising to you?

Would you be surprised by where you live? Would you be surprised by your wealth? Would you be surprised by your state of mind? Would you be surprised by technology? Would you be surprised by world politics?

Change It Up

If the only constant is change--as paradoxical as that might seem--it would behoove us all to learn how to deal gracefully with it.

For the rest of the day, change your cell phone ringtone or put your watch on the opposite wrist. (Really, do this.)

Now, each time your phone rings or you look at an empty patch of skin instead of finding out the time, notice how you react. Your reaction to this change is going to inform you about your natural, pre-wired response to change.

Change is just change. It isn't inherently good or bad. It's just different.

See if over the course of the day you can learn from yourself and accept both change as well as your reactions to it.

Have a Talk with God

If you were in a couples' counseling with God, what complaints, grievances, grudges, etc., would you have about your recent relationship with God? In other words, what is it that you have not said to God that you know deep in your heart you want to say about your relationship as of late?

It might be something that you haven't felt particularly safe saying or just something you haven't had the opportunity to say. Or it might just be something you've said before that bears repeating.

See if you can come up with at least seven sentences. (There is no one who can't do this--those claiming to have no relationship with God can use that as a wonderful starting point.)

By Rabbi Brian

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