In our community, there is much talk of returning to ancient ways, particularly in the realm of growing and preserving our own food and other methods of sustainability. A lot of wonderful work is being done in this realm, such as organic gardening, keeping and caring for animals, and making clothing. There are some areas, though, where modern people have a luxury that we feel is worth keeping.
In ancient history, most people were too busy surviving to devote much time to their personal spirituality (there are exceptions, of course), and left it to a priest or other spiritual leader to guide them. Much of this was based on dogma and strict enforcement of traditions. Only monks and nuns were afforded time for contemplation and meditation, although they too certainly made sacrifices.
Because of our modern lifestyles, we tend to have more leisure time. This gives us the opportunity to focus on our inner lives. Many of us have blogs or keep a journal, take classes to develop our skills, read self-help books, and even go on retreats. This means that many more folks are discovering their own personal spiritual paths and taking the time to figure out what they are called to do with their lives.
Whatever the future brings, we feel that combining ancient life skills with modern individuality enhances our lives and adds creativity and joy. We can more effectively cooperate with others in our communities. When we each develop the skills and wisdom that appeal to us, we see the value in others’ skills, which may be quite different than our own. Working together, we barter and trade what we need. One family may have extra honey from their beehives, which can be traded to the neighbors down the street for healing herbs. A massage therapist can trade sessions with a math tutor for her kids. You get the idea… Sure, there are some “yucky” jobs that we will still have to deal with, but for the most part, people can focus on what they like to do.
Even the exchange of money for services is an example of this type of trade, though it can often be perceived negatively based on our beliefs. When we use our money to purchase the things we believe in, like buying a hybrid car to lessen our emissions if we want to be environmentally conscious and still drive around, we are speaking up for what we have discovered to be our personal truths. We know that we’re not doing it because someone tells us we have to, but because it comes from within.
To combine ancient ways with modern leisure, look around you to see what can be simplified. Take time to contemplate what is most meaningful to you, and then take action. Focus on skills that you have, things that you’d love to learn, and areas where you wish to see improvement. Let go of distractions that no longer inspire you. Find enjoyable ways to serve a need in your community. A combination of these things, and others that you create, will help enhance your spiritual connection and enjoyment of life.