I’ll be honest with you, I was a nonbeliever for most of my life. You see, I grew up in a fairly skeptical household. Even though I was raised Jewish, my dad didn’t really believe in religion or anything.
So, neither did I.
Flash forward to my late thirties. Almost overnight, I became anxious, covered with inexplicable hives, and couldn’t think straight. There was no real explanation as to what was causing it, but for the first time, I started to question everything. From why are we here to what is out there to what’s it all for?
My health scare launched me head on into what my coach and I called, “a spiritual crisis.”
WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?
First, spirituality is not organized religion. Many people confuse the two. Often, when a person has an issue with religion, for whatever reason, they toss out spirituality as well. Just because religion often gets a bad rap, spirituality doesn’t need to be lost.
They are not the same thing.
According to Christina Puchalski, MD, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, “spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”
Some people, like me, find spirituality by going through something hard like an illness or death, an addiction or deep loneliness. Others find spirituality by digging deep and designing from the heart, versus out of desperation, and, ironically, that’s usually harder.
Designing your spiritual life doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice.
During my health scare, I took on spirituality as an adventure and had fun questioning everything and trying different spiritual practices. For the first time, I tried meditating, praying, and writing. And after months of doing these new practices, I started to feel more connected to myself and something greater in the spiritual realm.
Also, and wildly important to note, at some point while I was designing and discovering my spirituality, my health issues that launched my spiritual crisis, disappeared.
When I was researching different spiritual practices, I went to my good friend, master yoga teacher and author of Art of Attention, Elena Brower to find out her favorite, go-to practices. She shared with me her top seven spiritual practices she loves. See which ones you are drawn to that she describes below:
Meditation clears the mind, reduces stress, and gets you to dive deeper into your inner self, giving you a better understanding of who you are and why you’re here. Meditate first thing in the morning. Have a seat for meditation. Simply watch your breathing and /or work with a mantra. Jonni Pollard’s free app, 1giantmind.org, is a stellar place to start, as is sitting with a teacher with an established lineage.
2) ASK FOR GUIDANCE
If you are grappling with an issue or working on something, ask a question about it, and listen. When I get very quiet and listen for guidance, I “hear” answers coming from within me. Sometimes I hear answers in the voice of someone who’s passed with whom I still feel connected. You might turn to a great book of aphorisms, or a deck of divination cards, and let your hands find the page/card for a possible answer.
Get a feel for how The Handel Method® could benefit you.
Movement rearranges your body, calls upon your parasympathetic nervous system and will calm anxiety so you can listen and connect more easefully. Spending time in your body is key to your capacity to trust and feel fluent in everything you do. Dance, practice Kundalini kriyas, practice yoga, anything to change your habitual position and free up your energy.
The practice of journaling keeps you in touch with yourself. You might enjoy observing your thinking by freely noting any thoughts rushing through your mind. this is an effective practice known as “Thought Logging” in the Handel work. For one or two minutes a day, note what’s happening in your mind. When you learn where your mind goes habitually, you can begin to better design your thoughts going forward. Your mind is the museum; and developing your higher self allows you to become its curator, without one thought hanging there without you consciously choosing it.
5) LISTEN TO MANTRAS
Mantra clears confusion and recalibrates our minds. Words and sounds intended to give direction to our thinking, certain Kundalini mantras have been the perfect balm to my soul recently. Mantras set to music rearrange my nervous system. Rhythm is said to override the ego, so dance, move, listen, sing – enjoy.
And if this practice really intrigues you, check out www.5Rhythms.com for more inspiration with mantras and movement.
Make something – a meal, a small watercolor painting, a card for someone, a care package, a still life in your home, a bouquet of flowers. Each time I do so, my energy shifts away from whatever’s causing confusion to the creation at hand. This helps a lot – my painting ritual has led to a gorgeous new book coming out in 2017 called Practice You (published by Sounds True).
See it. Feel it. Visualize what you want. We can have a desire, and we can mold our own behavior and thinking in the direction of that desire. Empty and ground yourself first, then you can plant seeds.
HOW TO START DESIGNING YOUR SPIRITUALITY
You’re likely getting the sense that designing your spiritual life is an enormous act of self-love. It is. And putting in daily spiritual practices can change everything about how you relate to yourself and your life, and they lay the foundation for profound wisdom unfolding in your life.
How do you take that from a concept to an actuality?
Personal Integrity®, the aligning of your head (a plan), your heart (what you want) and your body (your actions) with your highest ideals. In the case of your spiritual life this means articulating what you want, thinking and planning accordingly and then doing what you planned to do.
Pick one practice from the above list that you speaks to you and promise to do it daily for at least 5 minutes. Follow your new promise for 40 days and report back to us on how it impacted you and /or your life.
If you are interested in discovering and deepening your spiritual life, join Elena Brower and me for our free 1-hour Design Your Spiritual Life Tele-Talk where you will learn the steps to get into the right spiritual actions so you can feel grounded, connected and deeply happy.