The truest form of liberation can be aquired by living in alignment with our true nature. So, how can we “practice” spirituality to become more aware of our inherent (spiritual) nature? Here are some tips…
Remove any sense of separation
When communicating with others, dissolve the barriers of physical characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity. Communicate with people purely on a spiritual level, for example: Do not perceive yourself as talking to a black person, a homosexual, a fat person, or an old man or even an enemy – for that matter. This practise will help you to see others as who they are, rather than what (you think) they are. If you have difficulty doing this then try imagining that they are a relative (or anyone that you love). Look for similarities, rather than differences.
It is only by chance that someone is a stranger – a slight shift in circumstances could have easily made them a close friend. Think of the unusual and coincidental circumstances in which you have met some of the people in your life, and how one small decision (such as deciding to stay home) could have kept you as strangers today.
Cultivate loving-kindness and compassion
The practice of spirituality emphasizes qualities such as love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and harmony. Forgiveness brings as much healing (if not more) to ourselves as it does the subject that we are forgiving. The capacity of our love has no limitations. Love is not an emotion, nor is it an action – it is a state of being that is part of our true nature. We do not need to do anything in order to love – we just need to dissolve our self-errected barriers to this natural state of being. Any such barriers in your ability to love all beings, are illusory – arising from judgement and a sense of separation. Remove judgement and attachment from your life, and you are left with a deeply peaceful and loving acceptance that everything is already completely perfect, and (no matter how it may seem at the time) exactly as it is meant to be.
Meditation and mindfulness
The benefits of mindfulness include the alleviation of mental disorders such as worry, anxiety or regret, which are generally related to the past or future. Mindfulness can be practised by bringing your attention to the present moment, and a good starting point is by focusing on the inhalation and exhalation motions of the breath. Acknowledge any thoughts that arise without judgement or attachment, and aim to quiten the inner narrative of your mind by gently returning your awareness to your breathing.
What we give is what we receive
Everything we give flows back through us, like seeing our reflection in water. Actions such as judgement, gossip and criticism are a reflection of the giver and will therefore come back to you. Remember the simple phrase ‘do unto others as you would do unto you’. Don”t just know of it, but be the person that you want others to be – lead by example. If you do participate in criticism, the law of reciprocation can guarantee that you are also gossiped about – please understand that it works both ways. Like attracts like – we get what we give.
Resolve not to participate in criticism or gossip. You will probably find that this is easier said that done, as it is difficult to avoid these types of situations. Often our friends or colleagues like to gossip, and we may not want to offend them by not ‘joining in’, or we might enjoy putting our two cents in. A good way to handle the situation is to point out a positive of the person being criticized. For example, if your friend is complaining about a lady that was rude to her, you could suggest that perhaps the lady was having a bad day, and wasn”t aware of her reaction.
Our inner commentary is also very good at being critical and judgemental! Start noticing when you are silently criticizing others in your mind, such as berating the “idiot” driving slowly in front of you. Negative emotions are fear-induced strategies employed by our ego, and negative actions serve only to perpetuate that fear. Keep your mind judgement free and learn to feel from the heart instead. Not only is it good for your health to let go of negativity, but you will also feel more engaged with others.
Giving and receiving are not separate – they must be thought of as a circular motion, rather than a one-way street. Understanding this will change your life immensely. Imagine you are sitting down at a table in front of a lazy-Susan. What happens if you put something down on the table? It comes around straight back to you! We don”t need to go through life worrying about how to ‘get’ things. If we focus on what we have to give, the receiving part will take care of itself.
Doing practices for body, mind, and spirit
You can use spiritual practices to purify, strengthen, and elevate your body, mind, and spirit. All three are connected. For example, your practices to purify and strengthen your body also support the increased flows of energy that come from your mental and spirit-based practices.
- Practices for your body: These practices include yoga postures, breathing exercises, and energy balancing – all for the purpose of making your “temple of God” (that is, your body) a worthy vessel to contain and carry the great energy of Holy Spirit.
- Practices for your mind: These practices include meditation, contemplation, repetition of mantras, study of spiritual teachings, and affirmations – all of which polish the mirror of your mind so it can reflect divine light more clearly and brightly.
- Practices for your spirit: These practices include reverential rituals, prayer, chanting and singing of hymns, and other devotional efforts that invigorate your love, willpower, surrender, and faith.
Practicing being happy
You can develop the habit of being happy just by practicing acting happy. This is not about deception or fooling yourself or others but, instead, tapping into an amazing quality and spiritual law of life. Your inner being and outer expressions reflect one another:
- If you feel happy inside, it shows up in everything you do.
- In the same way, expressing happiness outwardly also affects your state of mind, creating greater happiness inside yourself.
During good times, allow yourself to smile; during difficult times, still do your best to smile. It doesn’t even have to be a big, outer smile. Just think “smile.” Think “contentment.” Feel what it would feel like to have a spontaneous, sincere smile playing on your lips. Don’t disregard your grief or anger or walk around with a fake, plastic smile. Instead, try to become established in happiness by practicing being happy.