Any man or woman who shaves knows this truth: the hairs grow back. It doesn't matter what a nice, close shave you have accomplished. Immediately the hair begins to grow, and soon forms a stubble, calling for another shave. To shave once and expect it to suffice indefinitely is clearly to misunderstand the process. A once a year tune-up might work for a car depending upon how often it is driven. But the biological growth of hair is constant, and so in need of constant remedy.

Such it is with a hairy mind. The Buddhists speak of tanha, self-centered craving, as the root of all suffering. The Judeo-Christian tradition refers to sin, a tendency to miss the mark that is rooted in our human nature. We seem to have an inborn propensity to sprout the "hairs" of selfishness, fear, jealousy, petty resentment, bitterness, and egotism. No matter how clean-shaven we begin the day (whether through prayer, affirmations, meditation, a nature-walk), it's fairly predictable that by midday we'll be developing the beginning of that "five o'clock shadow" (for men), that stubble (for women) that calls for another shave. But it would be foolish to abandon all shaving and frustration, claiming that it doesn't seem to work. On the contrary, because it does we need to commit ourselves to frequent and regular practice.

What is it that gives us a good clean mental shave — that is, clears away the forming fears, stress, and resentment? Just as there are many kinds of razors, so too, cleansing practices. One person might dig in the garden. Another sits down with a good novel and a cup of tea. A third gives the problem over to a Higher Power, affirming faith that all will be well. Another looks honestly at where she's been at fault in a situation, letting go of blaming the other.

You wouldn't shave just at times of dire need. It's simply a habit, built into our daily routine. This is also the best way to use those spiritual practices. So lather up, get out the razor, and give yourself a shave.

Drew Leder in Sparks of the Divine