Daily practices form the foundation of any nature-based spiritual or neopagan path. Daily practices give us a chance to dedicate regular time to our spirituality, to slow down and connect with nature, to protect ourselves from the daily energetic onslaught that is the 21st century, and to practice reverence and gratitude. Each person’s daily practices are likely to be different, and as you walk the path of nature-based spirituality, the practices may also grow and shift as you deepen your work. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts about developing and maintaining a daily spiritual practice—different options, goals, and opportunities.
Daily Practices: Core Elements
There’s a pretty wide range of things you can accomplish with daily practices. I would argue that a good set of daily practices should, at minimum, help you do the following:
- Offer energetic protection for daily life
- Practice connection with nature / yourself / spirit / deity
- Practice energetic cleansing
- Practice gratitude, offering, and reverence
Additional things you might want to include are:
- Engage in daily creative practices
- Practice various kinds of energy balancing
- Practice stillness and focus
- Offer daily grounding and centering
- Divination practices
I would argue that daily practices are the gateway and foundation to everything else. If you build the foundation of your connection, balance, and focus through daily practices, then you will be able to accomplish many other goals in your spiritual life.
Also, one carefully designed practice may be able to accomplish many points above. That is, if you do daily energetic working, it can provide protection, grounding, and energy balancing. If you go out in nature, even for 5-10 minutes, you can practice gratitude, stillness, focus, mediation, and do some cleansing. So first, start figuring out what you really need to accomplish each day and then consider how you might get there.
Daily Ritual Practices
Many spiritual traditions have some kind of ceremonial or ritual practice that is done daily. Given the challenges we are facing today, I would suggest to always doing a practice that offers grounding and protection at the bare minimum–this will help you in so many ways as you go about daily life.
If you belong to a druid order or other organization that has a set of core practices, you may already have one or more practices that fit this. The Ancient Order of Druids in America suggests daily meditation, a daily Sphere of Protection, and regular time in nature. The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids use the LIght Body exercise (this is energizing but not protective, so OBOD druids should practice something else for protection).
I use the AODA’s Sphere of Protection (SOP) as one of my primarily daily practice for grounding, balancing, and protection. The Sphere of Protection works with a seven-element system (Earth-Air-Fire-Water-Above-Below-Within). It invokes the four elements in their positive form and banishes the four elements in their negative form and also protects you. What I like about the SOP is that it not only offers me a powerful protection that takes about 5 minutes a day, it also provides an elemental balancing, which helps me maintain my stability in today’s chaos. Further, I use it to protect not only myself but our homestead and our animals each day.
The other ritual practice I use daily–at the end of the day–is a smoke cleansing practice combined with meditation. These two practices help me “bookend” my day–I’ll share more about that approach below.
Meditation is a critical part of any spiritual path and can provide a wide range of benefits that are mental, physical, and spiritual. Most forms of meditation include breathwork and focusing the mind (which could be empty mind, focusing on something like a candle, discursive meditation). Meditation can also be movement-based (like walking meditation) or even more in-depth, like spirit journeying. You can see more details about different forms of meditation in my Druid’s Meditation Primer.
If you want to hear the spirits of nature, connect deeply with the spirit world, connect to your own creativity, have more effective rituals, and accomplish many other things–committing to a daily meditation practice is the necessary path to getting there. Meditation helps your mind become a powerful tool for any other work you want to do and is the foundation for everything else. Without meditation, you will continue to struggle to accomplish the basics because you have not trained your mind–think of this as a marathon. Do you want to run a marathon? Better practice every day and build up to it. Mediation is daily training for your mind. I really can’t stress this point enough.
Druids Anchor Spot: Time in Nature
The third part of my own daily triad is regular time spent in nature. My philosophy about this is tied to something I call a Druid’s Anchor Spot (a similar practice that the bushcraft and wilderness awareness communities call a “sit spot”). An Anchor Spot is a place that you go to that is extremely easy to access (e.g. right outside your door, a 5 minute walk away) that you can visit ideally on a daily or very regular basis.
The Druids Anchor Spot practice can be as simple or as layered as you want it to be. On the most basic level, you go to your Anchor spot and spend a little time there. I like to spend time observing with all of my senses: attending to my sight, hearing, sense of smell, touch, and even taste (you might catch me nibbling on some Eastern hemlock needles, for example). I also like to take a moment to check in with the genius loci, the spirit of the land, as well as other land spirits I am in contact with. We might converse, do a short ritual, etc. Sometimes I walk around the space and other times I simply sit. I also like to set shared intentions with the space (e.g. what do we want to accomplish in the coming season?) and also do regular ritual work there. Even if I only have five minutes or there is a storm, I still make a point to visit for a few moments each day.
The other thing I do here daily is to offer some gratitude. I have a hand-grown and harvested offering blend; I share a bit of this and offer my gratitude to the living earth and the spirits. I have also built a shrine for making offerings and doing ritual work. The space continues to evolve over time–this is also a central part of my land healing practices, so in addition to simply being present in the spot, I am working to physically heal the space.
Integration into Daily Life
As described above, you can see I essentially have a triad of practices–one that happens at the beginning of the day (SOP), one after I am done with work (Anchor Spot), and one that happens before I go to sleep (smoke cleansing and meditation). These practices took a while to develop and a while to integrate into my life. I’ve had many false starts and changes along the way, so I also wanted to share some ideas for how to get to the point where you have a regular, daily practice.
One of the questions people often ask is–how do I actually build this into my day? My response is–how did you learn to brush your teeth? The principle is actually really similar: the goal is to create a habituated practice. This is one that you almost automatically do, and you are so used to doing it that you simply do it. That’s the end goal.
To get there, you want to think about a few things. First, consider how your overall day is structured and where it would be more seamless to build in those small moments. A daily practice doesn’t have to take a lot of time–it can take as little as 5-10 minutes and you can always build from there. Find places that you might already have habituated or required practices and see if you can add a spiritual practice where you already have that time set aside. Also think about what would make the most sense for you in terms of practices based on the structure of your day.
Another thing that I have found very helpful is to really think about the transition points of the day–what does your beginning of the day look like? What might you build in there that helps launch you into the day? Do you have or need a transition point after a certain point in the day? What about your end of the day? Do you have a place to ‘wrap up’ for the day and transition to a good Dreamtime? If you can find those key transition points, and really work them to your advantage, then that is one way of making this all happen.
Finally, I think it’s important to understand your own nature. Some people are very schedule driven and developing a daily routine is fairly straightforward. Other people are more whimsical and find it really hard to have a routine or even resist routines (I happen to be one of these people). So you really have to work with yourself and show yourself some grace as you are working to establish daily practices.
To show you how this all first together, I’ll share my daily practice. As I mentioned, these have undergone a lot of evolution and if I had a different lifestyle, I know they would look very different. I also make allowances for myself–if I’m sick, traveling, etc, some of these would obviously be adapted. But I still try to make sure I do something every day.
Beginning of the Day and Sphere of Protection Ritual. Becuase I live on a 5-acre homestead, every day, I have animal care and farm chores in the morning. Since I have this thing I literally do every day, I always do my Sphere of Protection at the end of my homestead chores. After the physical work of feeding, watering and tending the animals, I let the animals out and then I perform my SOP. It also allows me to offer energetic protection to the land and the animals–and it allows them to participate as well.
Anchor spot and unstructured time in nature. Then, I will go about my day. When I finish my work for the day, I have found that I need a good transition point for whatever comes next, and that’s where the Druid’s Anchor Spot comes in. After working, I like to just unwind a bit by walking our land, walking meditation, observing, and then spending time in my anchor spot. The time in nature is much less structured than my other daily practices. I might find myself wandering, wondering, and simply creating the time to be present with the living earth. There’s a lot of value in unstructured spiritual time.
Evening cleansing and meditation. After my time in nature, I will again go about my evening. At least 4-5 days a week, that will include spending an hour or more in my art studio or doing some writing, dedicating time to my creative practices. Then, before bed (and before I get too tired!) I will do my end-of-day meditation and smoke cleansing. I like to do the smoke cleansing at the end of the day so that I’m not dragging any difficulty from the day into my dreaming (and I do practice sacred and intentional dreaming so that matters). Thus, I very intentionally clear any stress, problems, etc, that I’ve built up through the day with the smoke cleansing (I cleanse with my own herbal sticks that I make). Then will do some meditation before winding down for the evening.
I think in the hustle and bustle of daily life, developing these practices is really critical. Its so easy to get lost in the quagmire of modern living and all of the insanity that it brings. Like an anchor dropped on stormy seas, daily practices help you weather the storm, build your resilience and focus, and provide you with tools that can help you strengthen your own spiritual practice for years to come.
I would also say, allow yourself to shift and grow as you deepen your practice. Find something that works for you right now, in this moment. If your life changes or you have a new awareness or need something new, then by all means, change your practice to something that fits. Just keep in mind the larger goals of what you want to accomplish. For example, frequently, I also do daily divination, but right now as I’m the early stages of creating a new divination deck, I’m staying away from other divination systems and simply allowing that new deck to come through! Once the deck is a little further along, I’ll probably return to daily divination.
As we wrap up for today, I would love to hear examples of other ways that individuals have built daily practices into their lives. Please share so we can learn from your wisdom.