What is daily spiritual practice?
Spiritual practices are tools and techniques that are used to draw us closer to the divine Truth of who we are. Having a daily set of practices not only strengthens our conscious at-one-ment to Spirit, it opens us up to more of the qualities many of us are seeking – an enhanced sense of peace, more joy, greater harmony with the world around us.
There are a number of different tools to choose from as you consider how to begin your daily spiritual practice. The most important step, however, before you decide which technique(s) to incorporate, is making the commitment to establish the daily practice in the first place. It takes time to establish a new habit – some say it’s a three-week process, others say it takes longer. I suggest committing to one month and evaluating whether you’d like to continue at the end of that period. Are you committed? If so, take a look at the suggestions below to decide how you’ll create your own personal daily spiritual practice.
One of the first things I do as I start each day is set my intention. Sometimes it’s generic – “thank you God for the perfectly unfolding awesomeness of this day!” And sometimes it’s more specific – “thank you God for the successful outcome of my meeting.” And sometimes it’s just pure surrender – “Thy will be done.” Spending a few moments anchoring your intention for the day creates clarity for you and communicates to the Universe how best It can support you.
I practice a form of prayer known as affirmative prayer (aka metaphysical treatment), the premise of which is that everything we need is already available to us. Instead of asking (or begging!) God for what we want, we simply affirm what we desire and allow it into our experience. We’re not trying to change anything, we’re simply recognizing the perfection that already is.
With affirmative prayer, we turn away from appearances and know the spiritual truth of the omnipresence of Good is, and that this Good is revealed in our experience to the degree that we are open to it. I like to think that God is always willing – the Universe is always saying yes to us – we just have to make sure that we’re willing to receive everything that we’re asking for. Affirmative prayer creates that opening within us. We’re changing our own conscious awareness rather than changing God’s mind about something.
Read from an Inspiring Book
This is one of my favorite spiritual practices. I have shelves and shelves of spiritual books, plus more on my iPad. They provide a perfect springboard for a spiritual pick-me-up and food for thought either as part of my morning practice or right before bed. Sometimes I’ll pick up a random book from my shelf and open it to a random page just to see what tidbit of inspiration I come across. Other times I’ll read through an entire book over a period of a few days to a few weeks, depending on the length. This practice is particularly helpful when I’m feeling stuck in my spiritual practice (yes, that does happen from time-to-time!), as I’m able to glean new insights that provide a springboard for moving forward. Looking for your next favorite book? Check out some of my favorite book recommendations.
Meditation is quieting the mind and going within. It’s tuning out the incessant chatter of the mind. There are many different forms of meditation – guided meditation, mantra meditations, and walking meditations, among others. As we quiet the mind, we create space for new insights and understanding to come into our conscious awareness. I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to God, while meditation is listening to God. In the space of stillness within meditation, we can become aware of our connection with all that is.
Gratitude and Appreciation
Setting an intention to recognize the things you are grateful for and actually expressing that appreciation is a powerful spiritual practice. As part of your daily practice, ask what you’re grateful for – the people, the experiences the relationships; the shiny, new objects that you’ve purchased as well as the old, well-worn favorites; your health; your career; even the things we often take for granted – your breath and the fact that the sun rises each day.
You can journal the list of things you are grateful for each day, simply spend a few minutes contemplating the things you appreciate and why, or communicate your list to a gratitude buddy that you establish this practice with. The key as you go through your gratitude practice each day is to really feel whatever gratitude you’re feeling in your bones. Don’t make this a mental exercise that you’re just trying to get through. Really think about what, exactly, you’re feeling grateful for, and why. And notice how your body responds to those feelings. I’ll bet you feel a bit lighter and that your outlook for the day gets a bit more positive.
The more we appreciate, the more we have to express appreciation for. Make every day your own personal Thanksgiving and you will soon notice a shift in your experience.
There is something particularly powerful in writing things down. The type of journaling I’m talking about here isn’t like a diary where you write about the events of your day. Instead, journaling could include writing about
- any insights that came up during meditation or while reading from an inspiring book;
- all of the things you’re grateful for, and why;
- something that upset you the day before and you use the journaling process to understand what happened, why, and what things you’d like to shift in your awareness and understanding as a result.
The process of writing down these insights gets everything out of our heads, and often through the process of writing I discover new understanding or a new way of looking at things that really shifts my perspective.
Affirmations are phrases that uplift and inspire, and ultimately imprint on your subconscious what you want to create in your life. The key to the successful use of affirmations in your daily spiritual practice is, again, to feel the feelings of what you’re saying in your bones. These can’t be rote statements said without feeling. And if you’re saying one thing (e.g., every day I’m getting thinner) but believing the opposite (e.g., I can’t seem to lose this extra weight), you’re just wasting your time because it’s the belief, not the words, that is being imprinted.
If you’re struggling to match your desires with your beliefs about what is possible, see if you can shrink the gap. For example, if you are experiencing a health challenge, the affirmation “I am healthy” might feel like a stretch for your mind to accept. So you might start with “there are people who have been where I am now who have healed.” Or perhaps, “this is not permanent; it, too, shall pass.” Or even, “there is that within me that is whole, perfect and complete.” Play around with variations on the theme until you find the words that most resonate with you so that there is no contradiction between the words and your beliefs. That is how you’ll derive the most benefit from including affirmations as part of your spiritual practice each day.
We often like to believe that we are in charge of our lives, that we can control our experiences. And sometimes that’s simply not true. What we can control, however, is our reaction and response to the events taking place in our lives. The rest we can surrender to Spirit.
Surrender as part of spiritual practice can mean many things. It can simply involve completely letting go of any sense of attachment to the outcome of a situation, as in “Thy will be done.” I believe that Spirit’s will for us is always better than anything we can conceive of for ourselves, so this is my go to mode of surrender when I’m having a hard time seeing the good in a situation.
Surrender can also mean releasing resistance to difficult emotions. Often we don’t like to feel “negative” emotions like grief and anger. It can be easier to avoid or suppress them. And that just prolongs the process because they will eventually need to be released. Surrendering to the emotions is giving yourself permission to feel and experience them, and acknowledging the feelings as your own, however unpleasant they might be. They’re simply an indicator of something that needs to be healed, and as you recognize and surrender to that, you create space for something new to emerge.
After setting an intention, either for the day or for a certain area of our lives, we can surrender the exact nature of the outcome and the path to getting there. For example, if I set the intention for a new home, I can specify some of the details I’d like to have – a certain size house, the kind of neighborhood, peaceful surroundings, near good schools, etc. Once I have set the high level parameters of what I’m looking for, I’ll surrender the exact house and the process by which I’ll find it, trusting that I’ll be guided to exactly the right place.
One thing surrender is not is apathy. When we surrender, we allow ourselves to be ok wherever we are in the moment, without resistance. We’re not trying to change anything other than our response to whatever it is that’s going on in our lives. And trusting that it will all work out somehow, even if we have no earthly idea how.
Stop and Breathe
It can be really easy to get caught up in the fray of your day as you move from task to task. Our minds can run 1,000 miles a minute as we think about all that needs to be done. One easy spiritual practice to incorporate into your day-to-day is to take one full minute a few times per day and just stop and breathe. Set the alarm on your phone and when it goes off, just stop whatever you are doing, close your eyes and breathe. Concentrate on the inflow and outflow of your breath. Focus on the movement of your chest as your lungs fill with air. If you need to, set the timer for 60 seconds before you begin so that you can get the full benefit. After that one short minute you’ll be more centered and grounded to continue with the rest of your day.
Try a News Fast
A news fast just means cutting out the news in all of its forms (TV, radio, online, newspapers) for a period of time. When I first started doing these over 10 years ago, I was amazed at how much better I felt after just a few days of not being constantly bombarded with that negativity. If we base our opinions on the state of the world purely on what the news tells us, we would think that very little good happens. After all, for decades the mantra for local news has been “if it bleeds, it leads.”
Traditional news does little to feed our minds nourishing thoughts. In fact, our bodies have a negative physiological response to watching the news. This is particularly true for women, so taking regular breaks from the news can revive your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. You’ll absolutely notice a difference, particularly if you’re a news junkie.
If the thought of giving up the news entirely, even for a day, doesn’t appeal to you, try it anyways just to see if you notice a difference. And if you absolutely, positively can’t give it up, try this suggestion that I first heard from Rev. Michael Beckwith at Agape – view each story as a prayer request and pray for whatever the situation is that was highlighted. I’ve found that to be a particularly powerful practice that grounds me in spiritual Truth and completely shifts the way I look at the news.
Spend Time in Nature
There is something magical in reconnecting with nature. For me, it brings an almost immediate sense of calm and connection with the world around me. Time slows down. I feel at peace. I’m in awe of the beauty around me. I appreciate more.
Find a place in nature that calls to you and commit to going there regularly. Notice what it is that draws you to that place. How do you feel – mentally and physically? What do you become aware of? And why?
“I Did That”
I learned early on in my spiritual journey is that consciousness is cause. My thoughts, as framed by my beliefs, opinions, and assumptions about the world around me, create my experience. One spiritual practice that I discovered from listening to recordings of Abraham seminars is “I Did That.” It simply involves looking at various experiences in your life and acknowledging that you were the powerful creator behind each and every one – the ones you like and the ones you don’t like. I find acknowledging myself as the creative force in my life is very powerful, because then I know that I can change the things I don’t like by shifting my focus towards what I’d like to experience instead.
These spiritual practices, when done daily, help reinforce our at-one-ment with Spirit in our day-to-day lives. They facilitate a purposeful, conscious reconnection with the Truth of our being and the Divine essence within. They increase our awareness of the consistent Divine Presence in every area of our lives.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to implement all of the suggested spiritual practices at once, especially if you’re just starting out. Pick out one or two to start with and establish a consistent practice before adding a new one.
- As you start to be more practiced with these techniques, layer in a few of the practices that will provide spiritual anchor during your day, like the “Stop and Breathe” technique. Practices like these take your spiritual routine out of a set time period like the morning or evening and bring a conscious awareness of Spirit to the rest of your day.
At the end of the day, just do it! Make a commitment to yourself to stick with some sort of daily spiritual practice, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes a day, for a minimum of 30 days, whether you feel like it or not in the moment. Pick a time that you will devote to your practice each day, and don’t allow anything to get in the way. I, myself, prefer completing my practice in the morning before starting my day. It simply grounds me for the rest of the day and life just tends to flow more smoothly. And evenings just before bed might work better for you. Consistency is more important than the exact time, so just pick a day and get started!
Have any of these spiritual practices have helped you? Or do you have a practice that’s not covered here? Share what’s been most helpful for you in the comments below!
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