How to start a spiritual practice… this is a post that I have been wanting (or rather called to write) for many years now. I don’t know exactly what has stopped me from writing it. Maybe it’s my fear of “getting it wrong,” not being an “expert”, or perhaps I believed the subject too personal to offer guidance for, but in any event, I am listening to my voice and going for it.
Developing a spiritual practice has been one of the most rewarding and life-changing decisions I have ever made. It has enabled me to make sense of this ever-changing, often scary, and surprising world that we live in. My spiritual practice allows me to hear my inner voice, the voice that guides all things, leading me to my peace and happiness. Through this connection, I have been able to make sense of challenging times. To find the good in the bad, the beauty in the ugly, and the lesson in the obstacle. I have found my power, the power that lies within us all.
Each one of us has been born with enormous power, a power that once tapped into allows you to manifest anything you desire. It opens the door to creation, to create the life that you want, to be the person that you want. To be the grandest version of the greatest vision you ever had about Who You Are. Through this, you unlock the knowing and understanding of Who We Are, what we are doing “here,” and how we can bring true purpose to this life that we are living. At the moment when the knowing becomes clear, so much of the fear we hold onto melts away, and the peace and love that we are all made of prevails. This is why we start a spiritual practice, why we seek to develop one.
Through the connections that we make with our higher self, the grand picture is revealed. We are all ONE. The mysteries are no longer such mysteries, and this world is no longer such a scary and threatening place, since we are in the process of creating each and every experience we ever had. If you don’t like it, then change it. Change your path, change your thinking, change Who You Are.
What you think, you create. What you create, you become. What you become, you express. What you express, you experience. What you experience, you are. What you are, you think. And how can you change the way you think? The way you “are?” Reverse the natural process of how we do things. Do the deed you want to have a new thought about. Then say the words that you want to have your new thought about. Essentially, fake it until you make it, but BELIEVE in the “new” you. Let go of reacting – reacting how you have been trained to, reacting how you used to. No longer “think” before you act. Allow your inner voice, your highest self to guide you. It knows the “right” thing to do.
So much of our present experience is based on our previous thoughts and experiences. Old thoughts, adopted and inherited patterns, some else’s thoughts. Thought leads to experience, which leads to thought, which leads to experience. This can be such an amazing cycle if your thoughts are pure, but it can lead to unending pain if your thoughts are not. Free yourself of this cycle, allow yourself to be something new, the version of yourself you WANT to be, not who you think you are stuck being. Continue making decisions in accordance with the new idea you have. In accordance with what the New you would do and who they would be. Recreate yourself anew in every moment in order to BE the grandest version of the greatest vision you ever had about who you are. In the end, you are the ONLY person keeping you from BEING that person. And we need you to be that person. To bring LOVE to this world, LIGHT to those who are in the dark, HOPE to those who have none, and an unyielding FAITH that we have the power to change our circumstances.
Be the CAUSE of your experience, not the effect of it. And the way to “get there” is to “be there.” Imagine it with all your might, pray and visualize, ACT as if you are there, see it in your dreams, and believe it with all your being. Your true power will be revealed, magic will occur, and you will manifest all that you aspire to be.
Phew! Where did that all come from? Guess this was part of the process, to get this all out, so thanks for sticking in there with me. Now, to get back to the point of how to start a spiritual practice. In my experience, it is as simple as, and as challenging as, committing to the practice. A practice by definition is a repeated performance for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. Therefore, repetition is key. Success is determined by the dedication to the practice and the effort made on a daily basis to further ones practice. This is exactly why a spiritual practice is ongoing, never ending, often frustrating, but so very rewarding.
The goal is to make your spiritual practice a part of you, a part of your being and what you do. Allow it to become integrated into your way of living, much like the other things you do have (running, yoga, cooking, walking your dog, drinking wine…). It takes this level of dedication to start seeing the changes in yourself.
There are many ways in which to start a spiritual practice. These are the steps that have worked for me. The list may look long, but my practice only takes 30 – 45 minutes a day. If I have less time, I shorten the duration of some of the steps or skip some. There are no hard and fast rules here, you just have to do something (or one thing).
1. Designate a Time
It is very important to designate a time and space for your spiritual practice. This will be the backbone of your practice and will help you to keep your commitment.
My favorite time to practice is first thing in the morning. The morning provides the quiet needed to tap into your inner voice. Just coming out of a dream state, the mind is not fully engaged into this realm. The chaos of the day has yet to distract the mind, and you are still free of the energies that we take on throughout the day. The mind is clear, ready to allow our higher self to come through. Unlike the evening, your brain is not stuck on lists of things to do, and events and stresses that occurred during the day. You also have a far greater chance of sticking to your practice when it scheduled for the morning, since we all know how things come up in the evening (plans for happy hour, dinner invitations, T.V time) and how easy it is to make an excuse when the exhaustion of the day has set in.
If you do not have quiet or alone time in the morning because of commitments, children, work etc. make a decision to wake up earlier. Feeling sleepy will only help the process.
Now that you have decided the time in which you will practice, commit to it. Try to practice at the same time everyday. This creates a habit, ensuring that you will stay committed to your practice.
2. Designate a Space
Once you have found the time in the day to practice, it’s time to find a space. The space should be quiet, a place that can be all yours without distraction, and should have an overall feeling of peace. You can easily transform any room into your place of practice, in case one space does not come to mind just yet.
In my place of practice I love having pictures and items that plug me into my spiritual self. I have a picture of an angel that my grandfather gave me, a crystal, Tibetan singing bowl, and an essential oil diffuser. My room has plenty of natural light, and a comfortable chair for me to sit in.
3. Create an Ambience
In addition to decorating your practice room with items and pictures to call forth a spiritual nature, I love creating an ambience as well. Lighting candles or incense, diffusing essential oils or using a salt rock lamp, are just a few ways to set the tone of the practice. You can also smudge the area with sage to clear any negative energies that may lie in the space.
4. Read the Words
Now that you have yourself settled into your space, and have created an ambience, it’s time to open the practice. My favorite way to do this is by reading words that speak to my inner self and truth. For each person this is different, so explore the various texts until you find the ones that you resonate with. During this time I find it pleasant to enjoy a warm drink whether that be matcha, coffee, hot cacao, or a medicinal infusion full of herbs and superfoods.
There are so many books out there to choose from, which can be overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you. Here is a list of spiritual texts that I resonate with and have made the biggest impact on my spiritual journey. Maybe you will feel that way too 🙂
5. Pranayama “Control of Breath”
After I have read a chapter or a few passages from my book, I move onto my pranayama practice.
Pranayama is a breathing technique from the yogic tradition that I use to calm my body, and to quiet the mind. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. Learning to breathe with awareness helps to restore balance in the mind and body, thus preparing you for meditation.
Pranayama comes from the yoga tradition. “Prana” means Breath or vital energy in the body that is responsible for life or life force. “Ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath.” This practice of controlling the breath expands the pranic energy flow in the body, storing the energy within the body.
There are many pranayama techniques, but the one that I practice daily is called Nadi Shuddhi, alternate nostril breathing. I find it to be the most soothing of pranayama breathing techniques, and the one that best sets the tone for meditation. Here is a video to instruct you. You can use many variations of breathing counts depending on your lung capacity and comfort level. I personally inhale/exhale for 8 counts, and hold for 12 counts. It is best to start with 6:8. Six seconds inhale, eight seconds holding, six seconds exhale and switch. Once you become more comfortable you can build your time up.
Pranayama also has other health benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, stress managements, promotes healthy blood pressure, and increases energy.
5. Meditation Practice
We have now made it to the meat of the practice, our meditation. Do not be scared by this word. There are many ways to ease into a meditation practice, many of which do not require that you sit in silence focusing on keeping your mind still and without thought.
I have found the best way to start a meditation practice is with a guided meditation. Guided meditations can be very powerful, helping you to quickly feel the benefits of tapping into your spirit self, without having had practiced meditation for years. They also vary in length, so depending on your day, you will always have time to fit one in (even 5 minutes is effective!).
There are countless guided meditations, each with various purposes, goals and techniques. The most important thing is to find one that you vibe with. Make sure that you resonate with their message and feel calm and at ease by their voice. Choose a few different ones to listen to. This way you will always have a meditation that matches how you are feeling that day, and what you want to work on.
To get you started here are some of my favorite guided meditations.
6. Yoga Practice
The final step in my spiritual morning practice is a short yoga sequence. I take about 15 minutes to do some basic yoga stretches and standing poses in a flow to get me reawakened for the day. Yoga is a complex practice that addresses all aspects of the self, mind-body-spirit. I find that it rounds out my spiritual practice, while also invigorates my body, preparing me for the busyness that lies ahead.
The poses and flow of yoga helps to open the chakras, also known as the energy systems of the body. Chakras are the areas of the highest density of energy in the body. Energy passes through the chakras to your energy field also known as the aura. From there is passes onto the outside world, and from the outside world back through your auric layers to and through your chakras to your body. Our chakras are greatly influenced by everything we do, think and feel. They can easily become drained, as well as fall out of balance. When this occurs, it can have a profound impact on our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. We may find ourselves more prone to illness and emotional stress, anxiety and depression. It can also lead to poor decision making, a lack of will, anger, frustration, low energy and vitality, and disease. For these reasons, keeping your energy centers (chakras) opened and balanced is essential to your spiritual practice as well as your overall well-being.
There are so many resources to get you started with a yoga practice. Whether that means going to a yoga class, learning moves from books or from online blogs, or even joining and online yoga website, make a choice that best suits your need. I personally belong to Yoga Works online, and use this video for my short morning practice.
I know this is a lot to take in, but I hope you can pick and choose the elements that best resonate to you. Each person is going to have their own relationship with spirit, and how they want to connect, so honor that. Do not feel intimated that one person’s practice does not work for you. As long as you are connecting in, and moving forward in your process, you will see your world shift. There is no “right way,” only the way that works for you.
Have a blessed day!