5 Ways to Begin Your Spiritual Journey
The word spirituality gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Do you have to believe in a god to be spiritual? Is spirituality an epic pursuit? Are your friends who do yoga three times a week more spiritual than you? No, no, and not necessarily.
Galan Watts, a Cultural Studies Ph.D candidate at Queens University in Canada has been researching millennial attitudes towards spirituality. He found that when people call themselves spiritual these days, they generally mean that they:
* Believe there’s more to the world than the material (what we can see and hold in our hands)
* Explore their inner life in order to bring about self-knowledge
* Strive to be compassionate and empathetic
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle describes spirituality as the, “dimension within yourself that is deeper or higher than your continuous way of thinking.” There’s meaning behind your everyday thoughts, and it’s through spiritual practices that you can begin to access this higher dimension.
Why seek out spirituality?
Life has ups and life has downs. The downs, especially, can make us question–what’s the point? A feeling of disconnection is common among us. We’re too busy, and fill our down time with distractions like work, entertainment and drama.
Spirituality is about seeing beyond the material world–money, success, power, pleasure–to what meaning lies beneath. It’s about seeking connection–connection with oneself, to fellow human beings, and to the universe.
Spirituality is about asking, could I be living in a way that could make me more happy, connected and free? This is a big question and don’t worry, it’s not a question that can be answered right away. It’s one you will ask yourself repeatedly if you choose to follow a spiritual path, and the answers will change. We have to start somewhere, so here's five tips to help you begin.
Five ways to begin your own spiritual journey:
1. Learn from the experts
How do people find time to be spiritual? What does spirituality mean for other people? We’re lucky that many who have embarked on a spiritual path have documented it, so we're able to get answers to the many questions we may have. Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is a great place to learn about spirituality from spiritual leaders, creatives and prominent figures. In talks with her guests, Oprah finds ways we can incorporate spirituality into our daily lives. Comedian Russell Brand has been on a plight to make the world live more consciously for awhile, and his videos on the subject are not only accessible, but hilarious. Ted Talks are also great to learn more. If you’re a reader, you’re in luck. Spirituality’s popularity has made for a whole genre of books marketed towards beginners, making it a subject we all can read about.
2. Take time out
You didn’t think we would write about spirituality without meditation, did you? Yep. Meditation is crucial to becoming more spiritually aware. Katy Perry described meditation as a workout for the mind, and she’s right. Many of us are lost in repetitive thought patterns that disconnect us from reality. Meditation helps us become aware of these patterns, and disengage with them. Through practice we bring this state of awareness into our daily lives, enabling us to become more present. Meditation is a way of looking inward, and reconnecting our mind and body. If you’re little unsure how to meditate, there are great apps like, smiling mind and headspace that guide you through the process. All you have to do is show up and listen.
3. Feel alive
Spirituality is about becoming aware of what makes you feel alive. Author of The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell says, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.” Feeling alive gives you a reason to live. It sounds so simple, but many of us are so busy we’ve forgotten what actually makes us happy. And it's usually something pretty ordinary, like walking through the bush and being surrounded by nature, or being of service to someone. These are the moments that make us feel at peace with the world. These are the experiences we should be seeking. When you seek these moments out, you’ll be surprised at how everything else is put into perspective.
4. Get creative
We’re often attracted to creative pursuits because when we’re engaged in these activities we're paying attention to something other than the chatter of our minds–we’re in the moment and at peace. Whether you’re planting flowers in your garden, writing poetry, dancing in your lounge room, being creative is a spiritual practice, even if you’re not aware of it. Tibetan Buddhist and Spiritual Leader Lama Surya Das says creativity and spirituality are linked because they both involve “getting oneself out of the way…they help clarify our minds and uplift the heart, dissolving our ordinary preoccupations and mental states.” We’re connected to something outside of ourselves. What that something is? Well, that’s the question. But creativity is a fun and personal way you can begin to connect again.
5. Be grateful
You’ve probably heard of the gratitude list. Tony Robbins does it. Oprah loves it. Deepak Chopora swears by it. Why? Because it’s extraordinarily powerful. Research by leading psychologists and gratitude experts Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough show overwhelming positive effects of gratitude on physical health and psychological well-being. Focusing on the good in your life shifts your perspective, allowing you to overcome negative thought patterns that get in the way of you living a happy and productive life. Your relationships improve too, because you see the good in people, as well as yourself. You become more open, and as result you're able to make and maintain deeper connections.
We're always trying to deepen our spirituality here at Wholistically Healthy, so would love to hear how you started your spiritual journey. Comment below.