Laurie Perez is a mentor, mediator and guide to enlightenment in everyday circumstances. She is the author of Inner Garden, WakeUP and Feel Better and has passionately enlivened the PHX scene with events like Arizona Tempest, Vivid Dinner and Head Over Heels.
When people want to know about my journey of self-cultivation and spiritual practice, I tend to forget to mention items you might consider key resume points. I've been practicing meditation and Qi Gong (a potent martial art and healing modality) for more than 26 years. I've practiced Reiki (a Japanese modality) for 16 years. I earned a Masters of Science in Chinese Medicine through a rigorous four-year course of study at PCOM. I've taught and/or mentored more than 300 students and served hundreds of clients - privately and in the workplace.
When spurred to answer the question: what is the source of your spiritual practice? my mind immediately conjured scenes from my life in the mundane, so-called "real" world. The 12 years I spent in corporate cubicles and myriad jobs I've held as a writer, editor, journalist and temp-for-hire. Why? Because deep spiritual practice begins and ends in the real context of everyday life. To activate it, all you have to do is tune in with reverence and clear intent.
You think: I want a spiritual practice, but it's out there and I'm stuck here for now, so it will have to come later.
I was talking to a guy one day who wanted to know how I had developed my spirituality. He was clearly disappointed by what I didn't say.
I didn't start telling him about five years I (never) spent in a Zen monastery or the pilgrimage I (haven't) made to a proverbial Mecca. I didn't name a great master I had apprenticed with or describe a lightning bolt or burning bush incident from my enlightened journey.
I told him how I learned to listen to people who sat in my cubicle at work.
How my dad taught me to stand on my head.
How I lived in Southeast Asia, Japan, Mexico, the Caribbean and the freeway jungles of Southern California.
Somehow this didn't seem spiritual enough to him.
Truth is, my spiritual development has come through every job I've held, every person I've listened to, all of the books I've read and the way I've learned to see through them - and that includes Tom Robbins and Gary Larson as much as it includes Thich Naht Han, the Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron. It's through watching Inside the Actors Studio and from taking long walks in New York City. It's from Alfonso Cuaron and from Caroline Myss. It's from listening to my life and being actively curious about yours.
My spiritual training has been most poignant and valuable in the least obvious places: working in a law firm processing claims against people seeking workers comp; working for a government contractor developing SATCOM systems to support war-time actions; working for an HVAC engineer who couldn't stand architects - and meeting the architects who couldn't stand him - then seeing them all collaborate to build a new hospital in downtown LA; writing about baseball for a publication called The Alien in Osaka Japan; working data entry for a company that refinanced RV purchases - reading the letters people sent to justify their need; sorting photos in a summer job for a portrait photographer; selling candy in a hotel shop.
All of these were high spiritual training grounds.
And the same is true for your life.
Sitting at that traffic light = pure meditative practice.
Engaging the eyes of the cashier = deep compassion and learning.
Being curious about those who disappoint you = building trust in the holy contour of life.
Meeting deadlines, showing up for work, saying hello in the office kitchen, choosing what you watch on television - and with whom - choosing what music plays while you run errands - choosing how you start your day and how you say goodnight -
this is spiritual practice.
You ARE the monk in the monastery
and everyone you meet is your apprentice
and everyone you meet is your guru
and every choice you make either furthers your growth or seizes it
and you are the guide within the guiding rotation of your life.
choose each other
choose to smile more easily
choose to forgive more quickly
choose to wonder rather than know
choose to retain the value of knowing
choose to study
choose to forget
choose to be well
choose to engage right now
in this moment
wherever you are
appreciative of the many things that are working
cognizant of what you long to improve
celebrating the vivid texture of your life
it's all yours
you are it
and we need you
to wake up
and be free
Explore life's big questions, deactivate anxiety, hone creative vision, receive
guided insight for self-actualization,
process meaningful transitions and life changes, break through creative stasis, and/or
cultivate a deeper and more useful understanding of
why you're here and the person you want to become.