Awake and Fully Alive — on Purpose

What you do every day matters.

Imgorthand/Getty Images
Imgorthand/Getty Images

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.  Joseph Campell, The Power of Myth

What you do every day matters. Your routines and habits set you in motion or bring you to a halt. They help you feel great or make you feel lousy. What you do on a daily basis has a cumulative effect on your life and has carried you to this very moment.

Do something every day that makes you feel happy and healthy, and you can call it a practice. Do something every day that shifts you beyond your busy mind and wakes you up to your direct experience of being fully alive, and we’ll call it a Verge Practice.

Practices are powerful when they’re done consistently. You can practice the piano or your golf swing. You can practice contemplative prayer, speaking the truth, or helping others. There are an infinite number of ways to practice.

You already have practices; you just may not label them as such — yet. You do stuff every day that makes you feel happier and healthier. Practices come in many different packages.

Here’s an example of a seemingly insignificant practice. I set up my coffee pot in the evening,
 so that when I wake up early to write, my coffee is ready to be brewed. This simple routine really supports me. It’s a small but significant treat. It’s a way to be kind to myself, and it makes me feel happy.

Examples of other seemingly insignificant daily practices are:

  • Filling up the bird feeder in the morning to enjoy the birds throughout the day

  • Driving to work in silence, giving yourself space to mentally prepare for the day ahead

  • Walking around the block after dinner by yourself or with a family member to get your heart pumping

  • Preparing a healthy lunch to take to work, so that you aren’t tempted to make unhealthy lunch choices

  • Lighting a candle every morning to evoke a sense of sacredness in your day

  • Reading a passage in a book of poetry or a spiritual text to relax you

  • Working on your hobby in the evening, even for fifteen minutes, to clear your mind and help you let go of the day

  • Getting up early to exercise and invigorate your body

  • Connecting with your children by listening to them review their day

There is a sense of calm about people who have crafted empowering daily practices. You may know a few folks like this, those who seem to stroll rather than sprint, like your gracious neighbor who cares for her flower garden every afternoon or your easygoing colleague who walks after lunch, rain or shine. How about your consistently kind friend who wakes before her family to sit in silence every morning?

Over the years, I’ve observed that poise and vitality seem to emanate from people who have established healthy daily practices. They somehow seem to be more productive, more engaged. They move through life with a calmness that makes them enjoyable to be around. They radiate a quality of excellence in the way they are living their lives. Though they may not realize it, these folks have learned ways to show up for their lives on a regular basis — they have discovered how to feel fully alive on purpose.

I’ve been so inspired by the positive effects of my practices and in observing how daily practices help others that I’ve dedicated my professional life to helping people establish and stay committed to their own. I’m excited to help you do the same by introducing you to some of my favorite practices — the Verge Practices. 

Excerpted from the book On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine Copyright © 2016 by Cara Bradley. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. 

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