A Beginner's Guide to being Spiritual
Explaining how to incorporate spirituality into your everyday life. How to start being spiritual.
Being spiritual is a way of life. It's about finding meaning beyond material concerns and personal gain. Spirituality is fluid and adaptable - different approaches will suit you at different times in your life. It's about spreading kindness and positivity to those around you. Spirituality is seldom found in rigid 'holier than thou' systems that pontificate rules and foster feelings of guilt, seeking control over their followers. Spiritual people have compassion and are accepting of differing viewpoints.
A spiritual person is a free soul, who enjoys life to the fullest while harming no one, and doesn't shy away from tackling life's lows. The spiritual way is to constantly strive to become a better person to yourself, to those around you and so to make the wider world a kinder place for everyone. It sounds a tad idealistic but, in fact, it's really not that difficult to start to become more mindful of your thoughts and actions and the impact they have on yourself and others. The rewards are huge: you'll become happier, lighter of spirit and find you are less concerned with petty squabbles that can drag you down. Spirituality fills the void we all sometimes feel in a way material possessions never can. Below are some suggestions for awakening your spirituality.
1. Practise Loving Kindness
The Buddhist meditation of loving kindness is one of the best ways you can begin to get in touch with your spirituality because it breaks down emotional barriers and gets you used to feeling kindness towards others. Here is a simple version of the meditation:
-Sit in a quiet, safe place where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and imaging yourself surrounded by a healing blue light. Repeat the phrase 'loving kindness' in your mind. Imagine yourself surrounded by a feeling of love and slowly beginning to heal any emotional wounds. Repeat the phrase slowly until you feel ready to stop.
-Think of a person you love (mother, father, child, partner, friend). Imagine them in your mind's eye. Send out loving kindness to them by repeating the phrase in your mind. Visualise them surrounded by healing light.
-Think of a person you admire but do not have an intimate relationship with (your feelings to them should be purely platonic); could be a teacher, a colleague, or a neighbour. Send them loving kindness.
-Think of a person you don't know personally, but have contact with in passing; perhaps a shop assistant, the person standing at your bus stop, or somebody you pass on the street. (Your feelings to them should be neutral and platonic). Send them loving kindness.
-Think of a person you are in conflict with or whom you dislike. Send them loving kindness. This can be difficult, so try picturing them smiling and happy. Eventually, you will honestly be able to wish them well - and this will help you by releasing your anger and other pent up emotions.
2. Appreciate Nature
A very simple way to awaken your spirituality is to take a walk in the countryside or by the sea. Setting aside a moment to step outside your busy life will give you time to be mindful and recognise the bigger picture. Observe your surroundings and take in the timelessness of the woodland or water that, while we humans scurry around with our material concerns, the landscape is a constant bridge from age to age. Reawaken a childlike sense of wonder inside yourself as you look at the beauty of nature and put your minor worries and troubles into perspective.
How many times have you felt your life is lacking compared to someone else's? The problem with envy is that it leaves you empty and longing for an idealised imagining that probably doesn't exist. Material wealth, although it can certainly make life more comfortable, doesn't automatically equal happiness. If you are not happy within yourself no amount of designer clothes will fill that void.
Instead, every time you are feeling down on yourself, take a minute to think about all the good things you have in your life. If certain people are on your gratitude list - don't forget to thank them for being there for you, or offer them a simple act of kindness.
4. Self Improvement
Make a list of your positive personal qualities. Think about compliments people have given you in the past to get you started; nothing physical, we're talking personality traits. Make sure you use and develop your positive traits as often as possible. So if you have a talent for relating to people, help the new person at work to settle in, or if you are a good with animals, offer to walk your elderly/young mum neighbour's dog to give her a break.
Now make a list of the parts of your personality you'd like to improve - be honest. Perhaps you lose your temper too easily, maybe you lack confidence, or you always feel you are not good enough. Try to be mindful when these personality issues bubble up in the future. If you are mindful, then you can recognise these fears and release them as they crop up instead of letting them take you over.
Self improvement, in the spiritual sense, should be your life's work. There's nothing more important to your spiritual growth than to be constantly improving the way you think and behave to yourself and to others.
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