Religious Behaviour and Bin Liners

Our workplace cleaners went on holiday over Christmas, so when our kitchen bin reached capacity, I emptied the rubbish and noticed for the first time that the liner was tied on the side to fit the bin snugly. I put a fresh bag in and was dutifully tying it on the side, when one of my colleagues asked what I was doing. I said I was tying the liner on the way we do it around here – wondering if I had got it wrong.

No-one told me to tie the bin liner into place. There was no rule written or guideline to follow – I just saw that that was how it had been done and followed without further thought or question. These small and insignificant moments are perfect examples of how much of what we do in life is a mechanical or automatic adoption of the way we’ve seen how something is done.

Take this into the arena of religion – be it organised or our daily ‘religious’ mechanical behaviours – and the games truly do begin, as we learn to behave in ways that become part of us, but are not actually from our true self at all.

In that bin liner moment, I didn’t question or feel into the process, allowing even the smallest space for the possibility of checking in and acting from myself, I just adopted the way I saw it had been done before me. To bring our own awareness to the task or moment at hand is very different to “doing it the way it is done.” We all have an inner compass that registers everything, unimpeded by thoughts of right and wrong, its direction based on a knowing that, unlike organised religion, doesn’t come from outside measures, teachings or rules.

Many of us seem to have forgotten our inner compass when handing over to others to know what is right for us. The amazing thing is that our compass hasn’t forgotten us and is always patiently waiting for us to stop and listen to its messages. These messages often come in the form of a feeling, a deep inner knowing. Maybe all that is needed from us is to actually be willing to listen.

From tying bin liners to deciding on what to cook for dinner, how to be on a date or what organised religion we follow, it is easy to adopt popular practice, forever on show outside of us, at the expense of tuning into our own internal compass. Whatever we, or those around us do religiously – morning coffee, church on Sunday, tying bin liners – it is worth stopping to discern if it is done from a deep connection to the compass within, or a mechanical habit whose origins lie outside of our own hearts, as we follow accepted ways, instead of feeling the way for ourselves and daring to follow this instead.

By Adrienne Ryan, BEd, Brisbane, Australia

Related Reading:
Discovering My True Strength: Honouring My True Feelings Within
Conscious Presence while Cleaning our House
Garbage, Toilets and Cars – My Normal, My Religion















627 thoughts on “Religious Behaviour and Bin Liners

  1. I am coming back to my internal compass after a life of following what is common and accepted in the world of today. it guess it was seeking a sort of safety from outside, denying my internal compass but now I find my own way joyfully so.

  2. It is a really beautiful feeling to do things in a way that they are complete. This allows whatever is next to be there in full as we do not need to concern ourselves with what was completed.

  3. I have been caught out at work recently – a number of times, following the instruction of another even though my own feelings were otherwise. I didn’t question it at the time and it was only in hindsight that this was the case and my feeling was correct in the first instance. There are many reasons why we would do this, but in my case I was handing my own authority, my own knowing over to that of another. There was certainly no expectation to follow the instructions of the other person but I could see how I was not honouring my own knowing because I thought that they know more than me. On one level this is true, but not on everything.

  4. I have wanted to do the right thing through out life, so not creating waves was important, just follow on with what has been asked of me,I am gradually learning to be open to trust my inner wisdom and be impulsed by its offerings.

  5. Adrienne, you are right, there is a lot of gold in looking at our simple, daily actions and not just look at the actual actions but also how we move while we make those action.

  6. I love the analogy of the compass within. Yes, we all have such a compass, although most of us have forgotten its presence by long overriding its messages preferring the security of copying what others are doing.

  7. I have been someone to always be very good to observe how everyone was doing it and just adjusting and very quickly join a team in a working environment for instance. I can see though that I did this for recognition and to not stand out. There were things at times that I would do differently normally but I would ignore that inner voice just to fit in. There is a balance in learning new skills easily by observation and adding our own lived wisdom to it as well because that is the only way a company or group will grow. If we bring ourselves to it too.

  8. I work away from home so spend my weeks near work and I return home for weekends. I normally drive down on Sunday nights and back on Friday nights and the drive takes about 1hour 15min. This Sunday my inner compass was saying to stay home and rest and drive to work in the morning. I know for some that might not seem like a big deal, but I ‘always drive down on Sunday nights, it is what I do!’. So there did ensue a conversation with myself where my body/inner compass was clearly and simply saying, rest here, have an early night and drive down early the next morning, and then my mind brought in complication by going with ‘what I always do’. I am learning more and more to be guided by that compass and not by what ‘i always do’ or by what has ‘always been done’.

  9. I can recall many moments when I did as you did, Adrienne, tying the ‘bin liner’ just the way it had always been done; a mechanical action with no consultation of my ‘inner compass’ to see if there was actually another way to do it. These days I am always open to another way, with the acknowledgement that the ‘normal’ way might just be past its use by date, and I am finding the changing of those mechanical actions into ones guided by my divine compass very liberating to feel.

  10. Adrienne, you have shown us here how we are religious about everything, right down to bin liners and that is because we are in a relationship with everything all of the time. The thing is to make our religion something that comes from our inner essence and not something that is imposed from the outside.

  11. I have been very good at obeying the rules, doing what had been expected of me, making my self reliable, I was following someone else and not at all connected to my own inner compass, I loved what you have shared Adrienne, it feels like more permission for me to feel more of my innermost self.

  12. “The amazing thing is that our compass hasn’t forgotten us and is always patiently waiting for us to stop and listen to its messages” – gotta love our inner compass!

  13. I do agree with what you’re saying here Adrienne however in your example of the bin liner, there is also inspiration being offered here which is instant if we accept it.

  14. When we are truly connected with our bodies, we are living in the present in which there is no repetition, no old paradigms only an experience of interconnected awareness that is available to everyone.

  15. I also catch myself playing follow the leader and just doing what I have observed others doing at work. It is only when my actions are questioned that I realise how blindly I had followed. We think we are so uniquely individual and free thinkers, yet we pick up a lot of cues from other people’s behaviour and actions.

    1. It can be great to follow the leader but the key thing is to always discern, including the energy and how we are following, in what quality.

  16. I can remember as a child being in Church and everyone having to follow the movements of the group. One being kneeling on the hard wooden church pew. This never felt right to me and at times I would avoid doing this and you could feel the scowls and judgement of those around so I would then position my body so it looked like I was kneeling. Instead of honouring my body and saying, this hurts and feeling confident to not do it because of this.

  17. “Doing it the way it is done” – this is so common. I can really feel how we often think if we do it differently, not like others, not like in previous times, we are getting it wrong, and we don’t like being ‘wrong’.

  18. I was talking to a friend last night who was doing dry January (no alcohol) and was sharing how much was being revealed to her about her relationship with alcohol during this month. Which got us talking about the importance of creating these stop moments to explore our relationship with activities, and especially those that are part of our automatic every day life. It gives us the space to look at why we are doing something, what happens when we don’t and do we want to do it again?

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