What Is A Spiritual Practice & How You Can Start Your Own
What do you think of when you think of a spiritual practice? A fancy/beautiful altar? Complex yoga pose? A tarot spread? A spiritual practice is all (and none!) of these things. Spiritual practice is whatever you want it to be that helps you feel connected, to your Being, your heart, to the many avenues of your life, your entirety and existence. Today I want to offer some tips to beginning your own spiritual practice and the (limitless) growth and transformative potential one can hold! I also uploaded a video at the end with more info(for all you visual learners/vlog lovers!).
First off, what IS a spiritual practice?
A spiritual practice or spiritual discipline is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences and cultivating spiritual development. A common metaphor used in the spiritual traditions of the world's great religions is that of walking a path.
I look at my spiritual practice at a tool kit to help me feel more aware and connected to mySelf. To clarify, spiritual practice can look like MANY things (mindfulness, moon ceremony, shadow work, journaling, gratitude, positive thinking/affirmations, chanting, meditation, yoga asana, tarot, astrology, sacred silence, ritual, ceremony, creating art, singing, dancing, making things, volunteering, just to name a few… heck, even doing the dishes can be a spiritual practice!). Really it’s up to us to get curious and experiment with trying different things to see what resonates with us and makes us want to keep coming back!
Things that may be helpful in cultivating a spiritual practice:
I can’t stress this enough! Especially in a technologically advanced civilization that can be very attached to (many) forms of instant gratification, reminding the Self that personal (spiritual) development is a lifelong practice can help in truly taking the pressure OFF. Understanding that, while we may experience moments of clarity, egoless-ness and perceived ‘enlightenment’ where everything makes sense and feels good, these are glimpses of our Highest (Future) Self, but, as humans, we will continue coming back to the ego-Self. Be easy on yourSelf.
One of the 8 limbs of yoga are the Niyamas (comprised of 5 methods of self-observances), and one of those is Tapas, which translates to ‘fiery discipline’.
The idea here is to find a strong WHY:
WHY do you want to develop a spiritual practice?
WHAT do you hope to come of it?
HOW do you seek to grow?
Sometimes we can jump into something because it seems/looks cool and become unenthused on a day when we simply don’t feel like showing up for it. What I find really helps with this, for me, is developing a strong WHY and really sticking to it!
After ‘DISCIPLINE’, I think it’s important to bring in an essential quality in developing anything with sustainable substance, HAVING FUN! How excited will you be to approach a regular practice if it feels like a chore? There is something that Spiritual Teacher, Ram Dass, says (paraphrased), ‘A lot of people say they ‘should’ meditate more. ‘Should’, but they don’t really feel like it. I say just go on living your life til you can’t go another moment without Being on your meditation cushion. Til you’re dragging yourSelf onto that cushion.’. When something stops being fun, start getting curious about what other forms of spiritual practice sound intriguing to you!
Things that may NOT be helpful in cultivating a spiritual practice:
Lack Of Understanding of the ‘tool’
In a day and age where many of us source life inspiration from our devices (cell phones, computers, social media, television, technology) that are constantly swimming with endless visual imagery, we can resonate with the idea of something without fully knowing what the something is all about. Perfect Example: I started doing yoga asana to learn how to press-up into handstand. Now, 4 years later, my entire life has shifted, I learned how much more there is to yoga than the physical postures (and I still can’t press up into handstand). The subtle qualities of these ancient practices help us come to know ourSelves more fully, and with greater clarity.
A lot of these systems of self knowledge are complex and time-consuming to learn about, but once you learn the foundation, you’ll have it for life! Same goes for tarot, human design, astrology, etc.
Overly Complex//Time Commitment (EX 60 min EACH yoga, shadow work, crystal work)
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” There’s nothing more offputting than attempting to structure my day around my spiritual practice and the frustration that ensues when I learn that there simply isn’t the time and space for it all. Isn’t that the opposite direction we want to head with this intention? Here’s the thing: We make time for the things we want. So do the thing! Honor and give yourSelf a pocket of time that feels sweet and like a gift for you. This can be a great opportunity to bring your intention even further into your reality, by asking for support from your loved ones. Let them know you’re trying to ass some self-care practices into your life. You never know— you could set off a chain reaction!
What happens when spiritual practice ‘plans’ go awry? It’s not the most fun work (at first!) to call ourSelves out (lovingly) when we don’t get our way, and I realize this isn’t something we talk about in the community much! Number 3 rolls off the last, it’s what happens to our mood when we aren’t able to show up to that spiritual practice. Do you shift? Are you pleasant to be around? Can you get snippy? Do you see others as ‘getting in your way’ from living your best life? If the answer was yes to any of these, it’s okay! It’s also something to look at. Realize that every moment can be a learning opportunity and that there will be another time to do that practice. That, in this moment, the most beneficial thing to do would be to take a deep breath and remind yourSelf that you are infinite, and presence to that specific practice in that specific moment, in the grand scheme of life, really doesn’t matter. What does matter, is how you operate yourSelf. Isn’t the whole point of spiritual practice to become more self aware in hopes that it will benefit your life in the form of greater compassion, empathy, joy and peace? Call those in. You’ll be okay!
I hope these suggestions have been of benefit to you!
Here’s a youtube upload to dive deeper!