From 24/7 news cycles driven by partisan politics both local and global to climate change, mass migration, and rising nationalism, these times aren’t for the faint of heart. They are, however, a worthy challenge for the committed practitioner. Here are eight principles to help you cultivate an authentic spiritual practice during a time of great fear and equally great opportunity.

The Eight Principles

Let me start by telling you a story about two next-door neighbors. They decide they both want to plant a fruit tree. The first neighbor plants her tree in the front yard very close to her house. She waters it, nurtures it, and protects it, all the while thinking that when the tree is fully grown she’ll get to enjoy its sweet fruit.

The second neighbor also plants her tree in front of her house, but she plants it farther from the house, near her garden fence. She too waters, nurtures, and protects the tree. And she thinks that one day, when this tree is fully grown, everyone who passes by will get to enjoy its sweet fruit along with her. Both neighbors have exactly the same work to do. They water, nurture, and protect the tree. But the reach of their actions is completely different.

What I’m suggesting here is that we’re living through not just a transformation of the way we do things but possibly a deeper transformation of why we do them in the first place. Are we here to maximize our own reward, or to generously share the fruit of our labor? From a practice perspective, there is great power in intention and how it can shape the present moment and even the future—because if you approach this present moment with wisdom, kindness, and a sense of responsibility, you won’t have to worry about the future. It will take care of itself.

Here are eight principles to help you deepen your practice of awakening during anxious times.

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