"Ok, I'm ready to learn about practical spirituality. Bring it on!"
I'm so glad you feel that way. ;-) It's something that's going to take a bit of thinking about, figuring out how you can make things work for your personality and circumstances to get it just right.
Here I've pulled together five very effective and doable
strategies for making spirituality truly practical in your life. Simply
adjust as you see fit and enjoy the journey! In first place we
have...(Drum roll please)
If you haven't yet heard of the Golden Rule, I'm so happy that I get to fill you in.
It features in pretty much all of the world's religions, and in Bible-speak it would go like this: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". In more modern-day lingo, it simply means that you've got to treat everyone you interact with in the best way possible - the same way that you would want them to treat you. It's the epitome of practical spirituality.
Having trouble getting co-workers to respect you? Look inside for a minute. Do you truly treat them with respect? And I mean truly. Does your spouse/partner seem like he/she doesn't appreciate you enough? Consider your interactions over the past week. Have you shown your appreciation lately? Need ideas for simple acts of kindness?
I'm not claiming it's easy. Not at all. The Golden Rule is possibly one of the hardest things to put into practice because we have so many gripes and resentments that we hang on to. But it is simple. Every now and then, stop yourself and think "would I want to be treated this way?" Fix it there and then if you can. If not, you'll remember the next time you slip into that pattern.
Get into the habit of giving daily devotions to whichever members of the heavenly world you feel comfortable talking to.
Maybe you like to make up your own specific prayers or follow set rituals. Perhaps a few powerful mantras or decrees will cut through the sluggish energies of the day and get things moving for you. Meditation is yet another wonderful way to connect with your divine source. Not sure who to pray to?
Set aside a time every day when you can focus on this spiritual connection without distraction. First thing in the morning can be a great way to get started on a positive day, whereas last thing before bed can lead to a peaceful sleep. Two minutes? An hour? Once or three times a day? It's totally up to you. Generally the more, the better - but you know what's right for you.
For the utmost in practical spirituality,
consider getting in a little prayer-time while you're taking a shower,
doing the dishes, driving... Obviously a deep meditation won't work but
how about a simple mantra to repeat? Make room in your day to reconnect with God - it's the greatest time investment you can make.
Choose entertainment that raises your consciousness (uplifts you). What does that mean?
Pick a movie that motivates you or demonstrates kindness, perseverence, courage, respect...qualities of God. Pass over the ones that were created just to thrill or frighten you. Films worth watching do exist.
Listen to music that makes you feel better, happier, kinder. Shun anything that leaves you feeling low or doesn't lift you out of a depressive state. There are a few pieces of music out there that can actually bring you tangibly closer to God, just by listening. Don't settle for mediocrity.
The same goes for books, television, games, and so on. Run it all through your spiritual filter and actively decide which energies you want to expose yourself to ...and which ones you're going to avoid. Remember that practical spirituality is about making decisions that are best for you and then sticking with them.
We have freewill, and it's the most awesome gift in the world. It lets us be who we are, rather than unthinking puppets.
I can choose to "do it my way" and enjoy all the thrills of a self-serving existence. I might have a "fun" life this time around, perhaps, but with the vast amounts of negative karma piled up through disobedience to God, selfishness, and who knows what else, you can bet I'll be back lifetime after lifetime paying off all those karmic debts in the least desirable circumstances. The law of karma is precise and unrelenting. There's just no point trying to mess with it.
Instead, I can choose to do it God's way. I can spend some time in reflection and meditation, discerning what it is that God intends for me to be doing year by year, and day by day.
With big life-changing decisions it's obviously important to determine if it fits with your overall life mission, but when you're focusing on practical spirituality, the little things count too. Following the "still small voice within" has shown me some seriously worthwhile results, time and time again. Accidents averted, project delays avoided, great new avenues opened up...
This is another particularly tough one to follow because the still small voice has some loud competition! The voice of "logic" often jumps in with very convincing arguments, alongside the stubborn thoughts that never got past teenage rebellion. You've got to be tough and you've got to recognise these voices for what they are.
Practice listening for the one that comes from a place of pure love, rather than worry, laziness, or fear. The one that you know deep down (and you do always know) is telling you the right way to go.
There is nothing more powerful to get rid of a bad mood than gratitude.
It's impossible to feel grumpy, resentful, sad, or angry when you are feeling grateful. Try it! The next time you're starting to think that your life sucks and you really wish you had that other house/car/dessert, pause for a moment and say (aloud if possible) "Lord, I am truly grateful for...[fill in the blank]".
Again, address whichever deity you like, but be honest in your thankfulness. Really FEEL the loving gratitude pouring from your heart to God. I promise you will notice an immediate difference.
Studies prove that gratitude makes you happier! Imagine what a positive state of mind you would live your life in if you practiced gratitude every day.
If you want to make practical spirituality work for you and experience this difference, I recommend putting a notepad and pen beside your bed and then, every night before you go to sleep, write down five things that you are grateful for. In the morning, read through them again and make a mental note to find even more things to be grateful for. They can be as obvious as "my family and friends" or as simple as "the smile the cashier gave me today".
I hope these five tips will help you to be practical with your spirituality in ways that suit you. There are many areas of life that can benefit from practical spirituality. Here are some more practical spirituality tips and learn more about the different spiritual practices here.