13 Benefits of a Regular Spiritual Practice
I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I consider myself to be a deeply spiritual person. Religious, not so much. But spiritual? Definitely. I’ve had on-again, off-again flings, sometimes serious and other times casual, with Christianity. I have meditated in Buddhist temples, and crushed on Kabbalah. Since I was 13, I’ve experienced a magnetic attraction to paganism. Yet nothing’s ever really stuck enough for me to clamp down on it and claim it as “my religion”. There are different parts of me that identify too strongly with all of them to settle on any one.
Yet my religious indecision has never stood in the way of my spirituality. It’s something that has always been ingrained and integral to my life, in some form or another. I cannot remember a life without or before prayer, meditation, deep breathing, ritual and/or talking to God. Having deep spiritual bonds and roots keeps me grounded. It has pulled me through some of the darkest times of my life. It has taught me the most important lessons about love, humanity, and connection.
A daily spiritual practice is not, in the strictest sense, confined to going to Church on Sundays, mala beads and incense, meditation, or the pursuit of self-actualization through yoga (although it can be any or all of those things if you so choose). Rather, a spiritual practice can be defined as a daily act, or a series of acts, that deeply connects one to their individual perception of divinity and inner wisdom.
How you go about this is profoundly personal to you. You might find it through daily yoga, or going for a walk/jog in the sunshine. A simple morning prayer, journaling, or affirmations in the morning might resonate with you. Alternatively, you might connect with meditation, a gratitude practice, performing random acts of kindness to others and volunteering. Or, you might find a connection through staring at the night sky, lighting candles, watching the sunrise, or creating artwork. There are some who find zen in sweeping their floors (me), squeegeeing their shower door (also me), or doing their dishes (most certainly not me). In any case, the form is not important. What matters is the level of connectedness felt to divinity/the Universe/your intuition/inner wisdom whilst performing it.
Whilst millennials are said to be the least “religious” of the generations (in the organized sense of the word), with only 40% claiming a specific religious affiliation, a massive 80% of us are spiritual and/or believe in God in some form. However, without the structure of a church community, a sermon and a prescribed religious text through which to forge and maintain a spiritual connection with that divine energy, it becomes necessary to get creative with the way in which we forge that connection on our own. Furthermore, without that structure, it can be easy to let a regular practice fall by the wayside or to forego having one altogether.
Yet whether you find God watching the sunset each night, in the connection with your breath mid-downward dog or in five minutes set aside each evening to fill in your gratitude journal, maintaining a regular spiritual practice is vital, and not just for your own self-care. It also has innumerable benefits for your family and the wider community. Through nurturing and cultivating that connection to spirit, you are able to better show up for yourself and for the people around you.
Having a regular spiritual practice will provide you with:
#1: Clarity of mind and thought
Whether you focus on your breath in yoga or meditation, immerse yourself in the glorious beauty of a sunset, or talk to God through prayer, a spiritual practice takes you out of your head and more deeply into your physical body. Even if only for a few moments, this can act as a system reset and allow you to return back to your thoughts with a “fresh mind”. From this place, you are more likely to look at your thoughts and difficulties clearly and rationally. You are better able to either challenge the limiting or negative thoughts, let go of the things that are out of your control, or otherwise, think of solutions.
#2: Connection with what is truly important
One is ‘unplugged’ from society and a to do list that never sleeps in the moments of spiritual connection. Our world has become unprecedentedly busy. We expect instant communication with one another at any time. We are more acutely aware of societal demands and judgment and feel intense pressure to conform to societal expectation. But the powerful simplicity of a moment in spiritual practice, in which we are consciously unplugged from the noise and “busyness”, reminds us just how simple life can be, and how beautiful it is in that simplicity. We are reminded of the tiny joys and beauties in each moment. Over time, such a practice can make one more aware of the simple blessings and beauties of life that sometimes go unfairly and accidentally unnoticed.
#3: Deeper connection with others through compassion, empathy and understanding
Connection to spirituality teaches us that separateness from one another is but an illusion. “No man is an island entire of himself”, as the saying goes. Therefore, to ease the suffering, or to attempt to ease the suffering, of another is to ease one’s own. One of my favorite lessons from Buddhism is that every man suffers. Whilst we may not ever be able to remove another’s suffering completely, we must always try. Such a tenet helps me to look at others with compassion, even in their moments of unkindness, because I know they are troubled with great suffering of their own.
#4: An instant mood lift
By its very nature, engagement in a spiritual practice immerses you in something beautiful that is enjoyable and uplifting. That moment of immersion where you are fully present and connected with what truly matters acts as a powerful tool to lift your mood and raise your vibration.
#5: Mindfulness and being in the present moment
In moments of pure connection to spiritual truth, we are deeply and most powerfully connected to the present. Often when we do feel that divine connection, we are fully in our physical bodies. The noise and chaos of our monkey minds falls away, and we experience heightened awareness in all our senses. Rarely are we stewing over the past or stressing over the future whilst attending to our spiritual garden, because we enjoy the present moment so much. The wonderful thing about regular spiritual devotion is that the more you practice mindfulness, the more mindfulness begins to seep into other areas of life. This leads to better focus and concentration, higher quality productivity and greater enjoyment of pleasure in life.
#6: Balance and grounding no matter what life throws at you
When life throws a curveball and the routine of your daily life is in upheaval, a regular spiritual practice provides comfort, familiarity, grounding, and peace amid the chaos. Spiritual faith can also help you to be more open to acceptance in difficult times. It gives one a greater understanding that there is “a time to every purpose under Heaven”, even a time for moments of suffering and loss.
#7: Seeing life from a different perspective
A spiritual practice helps one to understand the holographic nature of the Universe and our tiny role within it. That is, we are a part of everything in the Universe, and everything in the Universe is part of us. It helps one to appreciate a larger picture and perspective than our individual story through that connectedness. From this place, we are better able to make decisions for the greater good. We have a more profound understanding of the impact of our actions and level of consciousness on others.
#8: Greater physical and mental health
Studies have shown that people who are devoted to a regular spiritual practice experience greater longevity, sharper focus, heightened feelings of contentment and fulfillment, a lower risk of depression and suicide, resilience, increased pain tolerance, fidelity, happier children and a happier family life.
#9: A greater likelihood to turn to tools like meditation and prayer
In times of emotional upheaval, a spiritual practice makes you more likely to de-stress by using tools like meditation and prayer, rather than engage in harmful addictions or toxic behaviors like overeating or alcohol. It has been shown that people who are more likely to turn to prayer in times of trial are better able to forgive, deal with hardship and resolve issues in their relationships.
#10: A stronger sense of family and community
Right after food, water, and security, human beings deeply need social interaction and connection with others for their very survival. Whether through a Church congregation, coven or yoga class, our spiritual practice often connects us to a community of like-minded people. We can often form a strong sense of belonging and support with such a community. This support network can be an invaluable source of comfort and strength in difficult times. It can also make the good things in life more enjoyable to celebrate. Spiritual people tend to spend more time with their family, placing a higher value on strengthening and nurturing those bonds.
#11: A deeper sense of gratitude, optimism, and generosity
No matter the denomination or practice, spirituality places emphasis on the importance of a regular gratitude practice. As the Bible tells us, what we bless, multiplies. This helps to make us more gracious and look for the blessings, silver linings and things to appreciate in life. This in turn makes us more likely to be optimistic and generous to others.
#12: Being better able to savor life’s pleasures with full intensity
Regular spiritual practice helps to build a bank of lasting memories to look back on as we reflect on our blessings on each day through gratitude journalling or prayer. When we look back on each day and reflect on what we’ve learned and what brought us joy, we call those memories to the forefront of our consciousness. This cements the neural pathways in our minds. In turn, this makes us more likely to keep track of lessons and hold treasured memories closer in our hearts. Being conscious of these small moments of joy makes us more likely to fully savor them in the present moment.
#13: A positive framework from which to create change
We’ve all had pivotal moments in life where it has become critical to make a transformational shift. In such times, spiritual connection provides grounding, nurturing, support and a positive framework from which to create that change.
A spiritual practice can take many forms. It could be a visit to Church, a full moon dinner with your girls, meditation, yoga or gratitude journalling. The benefits of such a practice make it a must – not just for self-care, but also for being better able to serve your family, loved ones, and the wider community.
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