DEVELOPING A DAILY SPIRITUAL PRATICE – Level I
A Daily Spiritual Practice takes commitment, energy and focus, which may sound too much like work. We all work. Some of us work because wehave to. Others work because we love to. After working to take care of all the necessary roles and tasks we are more interested in relaxing or playing than in pursuing a spiritual practice. In our day-to-day hectic lives it has become easier and easier to focus on the external world, working harder and harder to make things happen, to control things, to do more and have more. When a spiritual practice is considered in this light or thought of as just one more task, chances are we will avoid creating or sustaining it. If that is your case, I would encourage you to consider what is at stake when you do not do it.
Benefits of a Daily Spiritual Practice
A consistent, focused Daily Spiritual Practice supports you developing and strengthening your own inner essence, power and authentic identity.
A Daily Spiritual Practice establishes and provides us with a foundation upon which we can build a new perspective of life and our role in the experiences of life.
A Daily Spiritual Practice deepens and expands the awareness of your connection to your Source.
A Daily Spiritual Practice will interrupt the habitual flow of thoughts and emotions that often lead to unproductive reactions in your day to day experiences.
A Daily Spiritual Practice will increase your awareness of your addictive and judgmental nature and, support you in discovering the roots of pain and suffering in your life.
A Daily Spiritual Practice deepens your spiritual insight and unfolds as an ability to recognize that true peace and joy can only occur when you are free from the grip of our habitual thoughts and emotional addictions/reactions.
Your spirit, like your mind and body requires attention and dedication in order to develop as a resource that will become a significant and meaningful power source in your life. A Daily Spiritual Practice is committed and focused time that you spend aligning your head, heart and spirit with the indwelling divinity that is your authentic identity. It is a process of using activities and tools that assist you in creating a sacred space and atmosphere to experience and anchor your awareness of Spirit/God/the Universe/a Higher Power in your life.
If you are willing to invest the time and energy to develop a spiritual practice and to integrate those practice into your daily experience, your understanding of who you are in life will grow into an experience of freedom and joy. Without a spiritual practice it is more likely than not that your understanding of life and your awareness of your true identity will remain shallow. As such, the experiences of pain and suffering will more often than not fill the space between the periods of pleasure.
Overcoming The First Barrier
The first barrier to developing a spiritual practice is lack of desire. Desire is one of the most powerful tools we have for accomplishing our highest priorities. It is a spiritual tool we can use to fulfill our intentions and realize the vision we hold for our life. When we strengthen our desire for spiritual growth, the motivation and energy to create and sustain a spiritual practice can only have positive results. There are many, invaluable spiritual tools at our disposal. Meditation, prayer, chanting, inspirational reading, devotional practice, etc. are all tools that you could spend a lifetime exploring. To overcome the barriers to developing a practice, you are encouraged to work with the spiritual tool that feels right for you.
Overcoming The Second Barrier
The second barrier to developing a spiritual practice is a lack of understanding of what a practice is and, fear of what might or might not happen. If we consider the practice just another task, we will hold onto anticipated results. When we do not see the results we anticipate, chances are we will abandon the practice. The cornerstones of a true spiritual practice are:
- Be open and have no expectations.
- Practice with faith and trust that your desire to be aligned and connected is all that is required and, have no expectations.
- Consider your practice as an investment of time and energy that takes you into your own being to discover as much as you can about yourself and, have no expectations.
Self-inquiry, self-awareness and self-acceptance are the roots and foundation of a daily spiritual practice. As you deepen your connection to your Source, the essence of who you are will expand and grow. Over time, as the connection deepens and strengthens, your self-exploration will evolve into a spiritual perspective of who you are as a being of love, light, wisdom, compassion and wholeness. You will gain clarity about your spiritual gifts and calling. With consistent focus, a spiritual practice contributes to your spiritual evolution as you begin to integrate the practices, tools and insights into your daily life. The goal of a practice is not just to set aside a time for performing more tasks with an expected result. A spiritual practice supports you in discovering ways of making your daily routine and your spiritual practice one and the same.
Elements of a Productive Spiritual Practice
The ability to focus the attention inward in a receptive mode is attained and sustained with deep, conscious breathing.
Getting Out of the Way
The ability to remove yourself from distractions and focus the attention inward in a receptive mode is accomplished with guided meditation or inspired reading followed by journal writing or reflection. This level of your practice requires a commitment to maintain your practice despite any diversion, confusion, distraction or perceived lack of progress.
Listening and Receiving
The ability to pray and listen; to focus within and identify the barriers/challenges/issues that come forward and, to suspend all judgments about what comes forward in your process. As your practice deepens prayer and meditation are tools you can incorporate to clarify your desires, align your thoughts, beliefs and actions with your desires and, follow the guidance you receive that will allow them to manifest.
Creating A Practice that Works for You
You may have to experiment with different practices to find what works for you. Based on your lifestyle, work habits, family situation, and available time you will need to determine:
1. When You Will Do Your Practice
You will need to choose how often you will do your practice and whether it will be in the morning, evening or during the day. You are encouraged to choose a consistent time and schedule your practice into your daily activities.
2. Where You Will Do Your Practice
You are encouraged to create a sacred space where you do nothing else. Also consider that the space you choose should be free from distractions, interruptions, noise, etc.
3. How Long You Will Spend on Your Practice
If you are new to a spiritual practice, it may be most beneficial to begin with 10-15 minutes and progress to 30-60 minutes. The elements of your daily practice will also determine the amount of time you will need. Consider that 5 – 10 minutes is better and more productive to no minutes.
4. What You Will Do During Your Practice
Breath, Inspiration, Prayer, Affirmation, Meditation and Silence are the basic elements of any spiritual practice. In determining the elements of your practice, choose what works for you and how you will combine the activities so that they are meaningful for you. The following is a basic 10-minute spiritual practice that you can grow and deepen as you see fit.
Basic Spiritual Practice
1. 1-2 minutes of deep, rhythmic breathing.
(Inhale counting from 1 to 4; Exhale breathing from 1 to 4)
2. Light a candle. Focus on the flame for 1 minute.
Get Out of the Way
1. Read a page of inspired reading or;
2. Listen to a recorded guided meditation or;
3. Repeat an affirmation or Mantra
Listening and Receiving
1. Offer prayer about your heartfelt concerns, desires for healing, insight, etc.
2. Listen inwardly, silently for 2-3 minutes.
3. Write any insights, inspirations, questions or guidance you may hear.