Sunflowers and Spiritual Practice

Sunflowers and Spiritual Practice

Sunflowers turn unerringly to the light. They don’t think about it. It just happens.

Humans are different.

Our instincts are often no better than GPS advising a left turn on a cement-divided highway (yes, mine did that!).

Fortunately, when we’re driving, common sense keeps us from following ill-advised directions.

But while common sense quickly sees the folly of turning into a cement barricade in high speed traffic, common sense may not as clearly antidote the mind’s fascination with behavior that is less obviously risky in the moment.

The common sense of spiritual practice

So common sense tells us: Plan ahead. Do what you can to avoid making important choices at times of impaired thinking.

You already do this in many areas. For example, you don’t wait until after your third margarita to assess how much to drink. You decide your limit before ordering your first cocktail.

Planning ahead can protect you from the mind’s proclivities in other ways. Once we accept that the mind sometimes wanders where angels fear to tread, common sense leads us to adopt a strategy that steadies the mind. A steady mind will more likely turn toward the light in moments of challenge.

In other words, common sense advises daily spiritual practice.

Daily spiritual practice is how humans create the habit of turning to the (inner) light.

It doesn’t matter which practice we choose — Reiki, meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer, etc. Since you know there will be days when you won’t feel like practicing, common sense says choose the practice you enjoy most, and the one that is easiest for you to actually practice.

Because it matters that we practice every day.

The science of spiritual practice

If common sense doesn’t convince you that daily spiritual practice will improve your life, maybe the science will.

The most impressive studies into the effects of spiritual practice have been done on meditation. Since all spiritual practice involves some level of a meditative state, common sense tells us the most common findings are likely to be at least somewhat generalizable.

Among the best news is that spiritual practice pays quick dividends, with benefits of meditation documented after an 8-week beginners’ class.*

Reiki practitioners typically feel benefits quickly. Students learning First degree hands-on practice frequently report subjective benefits such as feeling calmer; less anxious; more at ease with themselves, their lives, and the people around them. And more concrete benefits such as sleeping through the night, breathing more easily, digesting food thoroughly, and moving your bowels. All that in the first few days of Reiki self-practice.

Sunflowers automatically turn toward the light. Humans need to cultivate the habit. Make an appointment with yourself today and start a daily spiritual practice.

Or begin again.

*To learn more about the studies documenting the neuroscience of meditation, read about pioneering researcher Richard Davidson, Ph.D.  and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin/Madison.

Pamela Miles shares 50 years of experience with holistic health and spiritual practice.


  1. I am a Zimbabwean practicing Traditional healer with 15 years of experience also do prayers to the ancestors according to our Tradition but i am very fascinated with your programs

    • Pamela Miles says:

      So good to hear from you, Jonathan! I have great love and respect for the spiritual healing traditions of Africa, and recently had a Zimbabwean in one of my First degree Reiki classes. 🙂

  2. I love the analogy of the sunflower sensing the light. I find that after years of practice, I sense it too, and am extra sensitive to what is unlightlike as well 🙂 thanks for another inspiring post!

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