As an apathetic INTJ Enneatype 5W4, I am a concrete thinker who questions everything. It's in my nature to do so. I question that, too.
What Is a Spiritual Practice?
From one corner of the world to the shadows deep in the sea, faith and religion are a force of nature one will always see. Running underneath these abstract processes is a thing known as spirituality, something that is, without doubt, different than religion and faith. It is the backbone of the two, the force which enables humanity to connect with something beyond us. It's through spiritual practices that humanity finds peace.
This often leads to the question of what spiritual practices are. A fair and honest question.
Spiritual Practices Defined
According to Wikipedia and many different dictionaries, soul-based practices can be defined as a regular or full-time performance upheld for the sake of inducing spiritual experiences and nurturing the development of the soul. This definition is a lengthy one, without a doubt.
The definition itself doesn't exactly say what the practices in question might be. Once one takes the first step forward into understanding this world behind faith and religion, one can see how, exactly, the two are related while also different.
Spiritual practices are numerous. These practices, in the forms of yoga, meditation, chants, dance, and prayer, are witnessed worldwide. Each of the mentioned is used to help relieve stress and bring clarity to life, a means of finding a quiet place in a world that's hectic and fast-paced.
This is the purpose of spiritual practices.
The point in any of the methods listed—from prayer to dance—is to find a sense of peace in oneself and the immediate environment. Spirituality is about connecting to the spirit within us. It's about connecting to our world, to our neighbors, and a Higher Power (be it God, the Universe, the Higher Self). It is about being present.
What Are the Benefits?
In a world that's always on the move, finding time to relax and to breathe isn't as easy as it once had been. Few know to slow down, to enjoy the small things filling the world around them. Fewer take time to gaze upon the beauty of a small blossom waiting to bloom, to feel admiration for the majestic eagle as it flies, to touch upon the ancient wisdom of the forests and their natives.
We live in a time where technology is at the forefront of the conscious generation, humanity enslaved to their phones and computers. Developing a spiritual practice is a means of reclaiming the lost beauty of life. Doing so has numerous benefits, each helpful in their way.
When they stack upon one another, the power behind them cannot be denied. When one takes a spiritual path upon themselves, drawing themselves more in-depth into the truth of their being, the benefits springing to the foreground bring relief and comfort. Here's how a practice can benefit you:
- Brings clarity to your life; you see clearer, understand more
- Increases awareness
- Lifts your moods; it's easier to be happier
- Weathers difficult times—helps you stay strong in hard times
- Teaches you how to step back and view the world subjectively
- Helps pinpoint areas in your life you want to change . . . and how
- Increases creativity
- Opens the doors to understanding others
- Nurtures the soul
How to Start
Beginning a new journey requires bravery and determination. It asks for sacrifice, commitment, and dedication. Starting any practice, be it a spiritual one or a physical one, isn't always easy. Much like working out in the gym to become healthier, the process of learning to discipline ourselves for the sake of our betterment is an uphill battle with great reward.
One of the first things to do when beginning any practice is learning what to do before branching out on your own. Meditating, for instance, isn't about silencing
the mind. It's about learning to let go of everything. Meditation involves breathing techniques, mindfulness, and self-reflection. It requires determination and patience, in abundance, because there are many setbacks.
Dancing involves a sense of understanding how the body moves. Dancing is an intuitive art form where music and feeling come together, meshing into a beautiful visual of movement and freedom. For those who don't know how to dance, this may require a bit of research (YouTube is useful, here) and branch out into different types of music that resonates with the soul and makes the body move.
Part of any new journey is knowing what's ahead. It's about knowing who you are, at the core of your being. It's about knowing what will set you back (are you a procrastinator, perhaps) and what things you love and flourish within. In most cases, the best way to start is by learning how to meditate as it helps calm the mind and reduce stress.
The best way to start a spiritual practice is simple. Just do it, one step at a time.
© 2018 Britta Nicole Miller