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Spiritual practices are not activities to add to your busy schedule or crowded “to do” list. They are not confined to a special place or time. They are what you do every day. They are how you wake up and come alive to the spiritual reality all around you. Practice is the path we travel on our spiritual journey, so everything we do can be a practice.
A spiritual practice 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. Therefore, a spiritual practice moves a person along a path towards a goal. The goal is variously referred to as salvation, liberation or union (with God). A person who walks such a path is sometimes referred to as a wayfarer or a pilgrim.
When working out physically, the goal is to improve the body and physical health. The body is the base of our existence. If it isn’t healthy, then a person falls apart. When working out, so many people allow their mind to out-think their body. A person will often work on the wrong parts of their health as they may “think” they have a different problem. Or worse the mind pushes the body past the sense of pain into hurting oneself. When a person allows their mind over reach their body, they create all sorts of physical side effects.
Rather when working out a person should allow their body to direct the process! The mind should only be an outside observer to allow feedback to fine-tune results.
When exploring spirit people have the problem of being too logical. They let the mind decide what the spirit is and how it should act. Then they bend themselves out of spiritual shape and create all sorts of spiritual problems.
- Impatience. Spirit is usually timeless. We experience time in our mind, within our stories. If you are finding yourself being impatient, then you know the monkey mind is creeping in to try and direct the show.
- Not Making your Goals. Goals are judgment based constructs our mind uses to keep a story on track. Spirit is everything, and as a result, there are no goals in the infinite. Everything has equal weight and value within a spiritual context. We use all our connections to enrich how we live. Each experience gives us leverage and something to use.
- Being Distracted, Getting Side Tracked. This is your mind trying to confuse you, trying not to let go of its power. The mind has you chasing ideas to prevent you from relaxing into spirit. Ironically, when your mind uses this trick, you turn it around and go on a journey. You allow yourself to chase the questions and enjoy the release into answers. You bathe in the distractions. Then something interesting happens, the chase becomes nonconsequential and a person will release their thoughts and instead relax into the wholeness of spirit.
- You feel Fear. Fear is the mind feeling it’s losing control. That the carefully laid out story you live by is now breaking down. Ironically, as you go deeper into a spiritual practice, the more centered a person becomes in their life. You discover that the mind doesn’t need to control everything and you can roll with life rather than force everything to your mind’s story. Since to be human is to hold a story, changing stories is the source of most drama in life. Look at human history, and you will find countless examples of how this plays out. So it is very natural to create false inner drama, to fear new insights, as you release a current story to experience what is outside of those stories. Also, keep in mind each person contains countless stories and can choose which ones to keep and release. As you deepen your spiritual practice, it becomes easier to shape life to be more balanced and remove any story that doesn’t serve your life.
There is quite a bit more on this topic. This page is simply a hint on how to improve any spiritual practice.
Here is another page of Contemplative Practices & Resources