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Spiritual Practice

While I often mention that having a daily spiritual practice is a necessity, I do not recall ever having defined what spiritual practice is.

So I’m going to attempt to answer the following questions: What counts as spiritual practice? Why should I do it – what is it supposed to do for me? And how often do I have to do it?

WHAT, WHY & HOW OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

A spiritual practice is any practice or ritual that you do consistently to feel both 1) present on the earth and 2) connected with that pulsing current of God that is your own loving Source Energy.

It is any practice, ritual, rite or behavior that makes you feel more alive, more joyful, more loving, more aligned with your Source energy, and more able to receive Divine Guidance for earthly life.

Traditionally, such a practice or ritual works to shut out worldly distractions, quiet the mind and bring ease to the body because this is the optimum state for hearing “the still small voice within” when God speaks lovingly through you to you.

So, what kinds of things might we do to engage in daily “spiritual practice?” What will work to quiet the mind and bring ease to the body and emotions?

While I will give you a few ideas, what you do and how often you do it will be up to you. You are unique and, while there are many traditions and options, not all of them will appeal to you.

That having been said, if you want access to Divine Guidance, you probably want a strong alignment and access every day. So, if at all possible, spiritual practice should be practiced on a daily basis, hence the term I love to bandy about: daily spiritual practice.

The best way to choose the correct spiritual practice – daily or otherwise – is by experimenting and noticing how, after a fair test, different practices make you feel. For now, try on these ideas.

GOING INTO THE SILENCE

Becoming aware of God’s presence is the goal of all spiritual practice. To do this, spiritual masters and leaders have been known to “go into the silence” for days at a time. Charles Filmore, one of the co-founders of Unity, went “into the silence” for days. He wrote about the need for silence to be aware of God and to hear God. Here is a passage from his book Teach Us To Pray:

“Talk to the Father as if He were an entity present within you. He is visible to your soul, and when you have attained the particular inner confidence called faith, you will realize His presence as clearly as you realize visible things. When you have stilled the outer senses and have become quiet, you are in the mental realm where thoughts are obedient to the word. Error thoughts must be told to go, and true thoughts must be called to take their proper place.”

For Charles Filmore, “going into the silence” was making oneself into a blank slate and opening to receiving the thoughts of God, what he called “true thoughts.”

Today, hundreds of millions of earnest people seek to open to the thoughts of God. Most use one or more of the following methods.

PRAYER AND MEDITATION

Many find that a combination of daily prayer and meditation allows them to “go into the silence” and replace thoughts they do not want with positive thoughts they do want. This combined practice lifts them into feeling both grounded to the earth and connected to the deepest and truest part of themselves at the same time.

Meditation can be facilitated and enhanced through the use of a thought or spoken mantra or through listening to the sound of crystal bowls, chimes, rain or a babbling brook or ocean surf.

CHANT, DRUMS, DANCE, SONG

Chanting, drumming and dancing are used as effective and joyful spiritual practice since feelings of joy also lift us up into the energies of our Source. Singing in a church choir can be a spiritual practice that makes your heart soar and keeps you feeling aligned.

MARTIAL ARTS

Yoga, tai chi, Aikido and other martial arts can be adopted as spiritual practice.  Having arisen out of spiritual and religious traditions, the slow, deliberate and meditative movements in these disciplines serve to facilitate the flow of divine energy through the body while the focus required creates an “empty mind” or a “beginner’s mind.”

NATURE

Many say say their minds grow clear and they feel the presence of God as they walk and hike in nature.

FASTING

Fasting has long been recognized as a beneficial way to clear the mind, give ease to the body, and prepare for spiritual revelation. Giving up certain foods for Lent is a centuries-old tradition.  Eliminating alcohol, sugar and processed foods while incorporating more raw foods into your diet can help purify your body and signal a willingness to align with higher energies.

SACRED SERVICE

While volunteering and/or Sacred Service are not, traditionally, seen as spiritual practice, some people find that they feel close to God during their quiet ministrations and heart-felt interactions with those they care for. They can be open to intuition and guidance as to what a particular person needs and respond with exactly what is needed.

TRADITIONAL WORSHIP

Many feel the presence of God by participating in traditional worship rites performed in their churches, mosques temples, cathedrals, synagogs and chapels. My grandmother went to a 6 a.m. mass every morning of her life. That was her main spiritual practice. When she needed to calm her mind at home, she prayed the rosary.

CHOOSE WHAT FEELS EMPOWERING

Bottom line, as long as you feel supported by what you do, as long as you feel joy in what you do, as long as you feel more loving when you emerge from your practice, as long as you feel clearer and that you are on your true path – in short – as long as you feel closer to God and “Good” as a result, the spiritual practice you choose is as valid as anyone’s.

Just be sure that you can do at least a little bit of it every day.

If, for instance, you feel you hear the voice of God in the mountains, but you cannot hike mountain trails every day, then find another type of spiritual practice that you can do on a daily basis in-between your mountain hikes.

It is the consistency of reaching into that current of God Energy day after day that gets us aligned with our good and keeps us there.

So spend at least five minutes in the morning, and five minutes just before you go to sleep, doing what works to make you feel aligned with love, with good, with God, and expand from there.

SUMMARY

In summary, daily spiritual practice can be as simple as reading an inspiring passage first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

It can involve nothing more than speaking affirmative prayer for five or ten minutes, or performing a handful of yoga postures.

It can consist of a ten, fifteen or twenty minute meditation with or without a mantra, or background sounds.

Spiritual practice, whether a daily discipline or not, can incorporate any or all of these practices.

You can devote five minutes or half an hour a day to a daily spiritual practice, or devote your life to spiritual practice and spend hours or even days in silence, meditation, prayer, fasting, dancing, chanting and/or singing.

Whatever you decide, your spiritual practice should not feel like a burden.

So, unless you have decided to go to a retreat, go into seclusion for an extended period or become a monk, your meditation practice should enhance your life in the world, not replace it.

The practice that you seek to make a part of your life must be one from which you emerge feeling more joyous, strengthened, empowered, cleansed, lifted, spiritually connected, divinely guided and better able to function in the “real” world.

Your spiritual practice must be something that makes you feel better after engaging in it, not worse.

It must give you a sense of relief and ease. It should leave you with a sense that well-being and divine blessing are yours and that God loves you.

And, finally, it must have the effect of opening your heart, not closing it, so that you are better able to give and receive love and forgive whatever comes before you that needs forgiving.

BE GENTLE AND PERSIST

A warning –

Be gentle with yourself when you decide you will incorporate daily spiritual practice into your life.

Typically, and just like when you begin an exercise regimen, your first attempts at establishing a spiritual practice may feel foreign and uncomfortable. You may be waiting for the time you have allotted for your spiritual practice to end.

You may find yourself antsy and waiting to be finished with it.

This is natural. This is the programming of the busy, bustling world calling to you. It will tell you that you do not have time to sit still or that what you are doing cannot possibly make a difference.

Yet a daily spiritual practice will pay huge dividends, so persevere. Play. Experiment. See if you can find a prayer, a mantra or a ringing crystal bowl mp3 that starts to put your body and mind into a state of ease.

Once you feel how good and how restful that place can be, you will be open to experimenting and expanding your spiritual practice a bit more. Play with it, adjust it, yet keep it up. Do at least five minutes every day, no matter what.

It is only over time that the sweetness of a spiritual practice begins to be truly felt. It is only after seeing and feeling the benefits of a spiritual practice after a month or two or three (or more) that you realize what it is doing for you and why it is something you want and need to continue for optimum feelings of well-being.

 

Prayerforce.Org: Healing Prayer Since 2003

 

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3 comments

1 Spiritual Awareness An Attitude Worth Cultivating { 10.18.11 at }

I have a spiritual development blog in the Philippines called HolisticHealthDaily.com. You might want to read my post “Spiritual Awareness An Attitude Worth Cultivating, a topic under “What is Spiritual Health?” and “Spiritual Health & Spiritual Practice.”

I note that Gandhi had gotten to the point where he was able to unhook from what he saw around himself in the world, which removed all resistance so his mind didn’t invent blocks to keep his energy from flowing. In other words spiritual awareness has everything to do with alignment of your inner and outer selves.

2 Self Coaching { 10.27.11 at }

Greatest role model for the spiritual path? Jesus. Greatest book about Jesus? Mystic Christianity. In 12 lessons the author weaves a coherent picture of Christianity for those of us who reject fundamentalism. Jesus the compassionate meets the metaphysical and mystical teachings in vogue today. Discussed are the background for the coming of Jesus, events surrounding his birth, his early years in Nazareth, his travels to Asia, and his eventual return to Judea for a 3 year ministry, with the culmination of arrest, show trial, and crucifixion.

3 Prayer For Financial Help | Prayerforce Org Prayer Blog { 01.16.12 at }

[…] For more about what a spiritual practice is (or can be), read my post on the what, why and how of spiritual practice. […]

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