Developing a Personal Spiritual Practice
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A key component of spiritual wellness is developing a regular (hopefully daily) spiritual practice.
The cultivation, maintenance and continued development of spiritual wellness and holistic well-being does not occur without conscious attention and direction. One must take charge of one's own spiritual development, healing and journey of enlightenment if we are to progress along the spiritual path. Expecting spiritual wellness with no effort or attention is no different than expecting physical wellness with no effort or attention.
To be physically well, we need to take care of our bodies. We need to ensure that we get regular exercise, adequate rest and be attentive to what we eat - ensuring that we consume healthy foods and avoid unhealthy ones. In order to remain physically well, we must do these things on a regular, daily basis. We will not be optimally well if we only exercise once in a while or only eat healthily occasionally, while sitting around watching TV and eating junk food the rest of the time. Being physically well means incorporating health and wellness practices into our daily lifestyle. We have to LIVE a healthy lifestyle to be healthy. This requires time, attention and dedication.
Likewise to be spiritually well, we must take care of our spirits. We need to tend to our spiritual selves regularly, not just occasionally, by ensuring that we incorporate practices that enhance our spiritual development. We need to develop a personal spiritual practice that becomes part of our lifestyle and daily routine. We need to LIVE a spiritual lifestyle to be spiritually well.
What does it mean to develop a personal spiritual practice and live a spiritual lifestyle?
We certainly don't have to run off and join a monastery or religious order to do this. In fact, one could argue that the spiritual challenge of today's world is to bring spirituality into the day-to-day "mundane" world, rather than withdraw to some segregated or isolated community. Instead, building a spiritual practice and living a spiritual lifestyle entails using creativity and consciousness in order to expand the spiritual dimension pervasively into our lives.
Developing a spiritual practice does not have to be a daunting or complex task. In fact simplicity and a gentle pace is the key to developing a spiritual practice that you will live by.
Although developing a spiritual practice need not be complex, there are several dimensions or aspects that ideally should be incorporated. These would include:
Routine practice and dedicated time
Meditative or contemplative practices
Ritual and ceremony
Reflection and self awareness
In addition, it is preferable (though not necessarily essential) to work or be rooted within at least one specific spiritual "system" or tradition as it provides a framework (as well as some specific strategies and techniques) upon which it may be more easy to progress with and integrate your spiritual journey.
By developing a personal spiritual practice we bring our spiritual selves to the forefront of our lives rather than sitting in the background, to be given attention only when the demands of our material lives permit. By giving priority to our spiritual selves we allow spirit into our lives as a guiding force and our decisions and actions of our everyday lives become more embued with the power of our spirits rather than of our material minds.