Practical Spirituality is the process of becoming a more self-aware and whole person
This is part two of my article on Practical Spirituality. Because spirituality can offer you joy, peace of heart and mind, and a sense of meaning, but only if you stay focused on it. And with the way the mind works, it’s easy to lose that focus in the daily rush of events.
If you are reading this and missed the first part, please CLICK HERE
6 Simple Ways to Practical Spirituality.
If you’re new to meditation it’s perfectly fine to start with just a few minutes a day. In fact, many say it’s advisable. The only caveat is that to build the habit, it’s best to pick a specific time of day and stick with it. That’s easy to do if you link it with an existing habit, like sitting up in bed in the morning, brushing your teeth or putting on your pyjamas at night.
Check in with yourself regularly.
Be curious about what’s going on in your body, mind, and heart. Invite a sense of gentle self-exploration into your awareness, and let it expand naturally.
What does your mind feel like when you first wake up? Spacious and clear, or already thinking about everything you have to do that day? And how is that different from your baseline mental state around, say, lunchtime or in the evening?
What words do you tend to use in your mind’s constant inner dialogue? What makes you sad, frustrated, and genuinely happy?
What are your most common stress triggers? Where do you hold tension in your body? Does that physical tension feel different when you’re upset vs. when you’re excited about something?
What are the default ways in which you react to other people?
There is no right or wrong to any of this, and it’s very important to be compassionate rather than judgmental. You’re not looking for ways to beat yourself up, just to notice interesting patterns. If you’re not in the self-awareness habit, just practice quick little check-ins, whenever you happen to remember; and over time you’ll naturally do them more and more often without any extra effort.
Pick a tiny Self-improvement Goal
Research has shown that starting with an incredibly small change and making it easy to succeed, is what leads to lasting transformation over time. So, pick something about yourself that you’d like to work on—something that doesn’t feel too difficult. What’s the smallest step you could take today to move your self forward?
Do you find yourself getting angry often? Practice taking a deep breath and counting to three before saying anything. Do you want to be a better friend? Give your best buddy a call tonight.
Start with just one or two small self-improvement goals, until you don’t have to think much about them anymore. Keep it simple, and you’ll soon find your confidence and sense of self-worth growing.
Look for little ways to serve others.
For most people, the desire to do good in the world is a strong component of their spirituality. And the natural impulse is to go big with this, so you can help as many people as much as possible. But you’ve got to consider your own bandwidth. It is not wrong to put yourself first. Do whatever you are inspired to and capable of, and trust that it makes a real difference.
A $5 donation to your favorite charity helps, so does a hug and a listening ear for a friend who’s having a rough day. Did you let someone merge in front of you during rush hour today? Everything counts no matter how big or small.
Many people misunderstand humility, thinking it means taking a back seat to others. But true humility isn’t being modest. It’s having a clear understanding of what you have to offer, without getting caught up in the ego about it.
You need a strong sense of self in order to make progress in any aspect of life, including the spiritual life. If you think of yourself as insignificant or unimportant, you’ll lack the motivation to strive for things—or you’ll think of that as a selfish and unworthy goal. But you can’t give what you don’t have. It’s like trying to save a drowning person—you can’t help them unless you’re planted firmly on the shore first.
If you can help, don’t parade around acting like you’re the best thing since sliced bread, but don’t hide your light under a bushel, either.
Humility is a combination of recognizing where you’re lacking, knowing when you should defer to others, and assessing where your strengths lie. When you’re clear on these things and offer yourself humbly but without shame or shrinking, everyone benefits.
Finally, be on the lookout for things, big and small, to be grateful or glad about. Stop and smell the flowers. Savor your next meal and feel thankful that it’s there to be eaten.
Appreciate the support of friends and family, and the thoughtfulness and generosity of strangers. Be glad for the things you learn from experience.
And be glad that you’re alive to experience them.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope it has given you some tips and tools to practice and embrace the way of Practical Spirituality.
In appreciation, Lee Pryke, www.iamican.ca