“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind”
– Caroline Myss
Life is messy. It throws things at us that leave us floundering, so utterly blindsided that we have no idea what we’re doing or where we’re going.
Even the love we have in our life fails to reach us.
In moments like these, the only thing that can help is connecting to a higher power which doesn’t necessarily mean god; it can be anything you want it to be.
You can find comfort by putting your faith in someone other than the mortals around you.
This is where SPIRITUALITY comes in!
Spirituality has no definition.
Spirituality has 101 definitions.
Every person thinks of spirituality differently.
They channel its powers differently, and that’s the most wonderful thing about it. It is not the same as religion, not at all! It can be about god, but it doesn’t have to follow rules that you don’t understand or agree with.
It can be whatever makes your soul feel good.
Why should you cultivate spiritual practices?
1. Better self-care
Spiritual practices can be very calming. The intent is to recharge your flagging energy and take your focus away from the negativity and onto more productive pursuits.
Consciously doing things that make your soul happy helps tone down the noise in your life. It takes you one step closer to a healthier self, and it elevates your internal defense mechanisms.
Imagine infusing every cell in your body with positive energy and love – that’s what spirituality can do for you.
Our physical wounds are always tended to and then given the time to heal. This will allow us to do the same for emotional and spiritual wounds.
In the course of a day, we meet a variety of people and we are exposed to every kind of emotion.
We absorb a lot of bad energy into ourselves, and over time that energy can sap our strength. It is very necessary to disconnect from the world and give yourself time to heal.
Related : 7 Signs Of A Toxic Person
We visit our doctor regularly to make sure everything is working alright in our body. Spirituality can do the same thing for your soul. It can take you away from all the chaos around you and help cleanse your emotional space.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”
– Anne Lamott
3. A better understanding of self
As I said, spiritual practices can help cleanse our emotional space. It can give us time to breathe, take stock, and fix whatever is broken.
Once you get better at your chosen spiritual practice, the moments spent working on them will help you connect with yourself.
These moments will transport you to a world where you’ll have time to examine your thoughts and actions. It will help build better self-awareness.
4. Another tool in your toolkit
As I started indulging in spiritual practices, I developed better control. I had a temper problem and it was, hands down the most debilitating issue in my life. It was chipping away at my self-esteem.
A healthy spiritual growth helped me get better control.
When I am in a stressful situation it is like a took I can use. I can retreat into myself no matter the situation.
It helped me develop the ability to detach from my environment and for me, that’s a huge deal.
It can do the same for you. We are all so vulnerable to the things going on around us, we can use all the help we can get.
5. Focus your energy
Spiritual practices are so forcefully positive that if you have abundant energy, you can focus on something immensely constructive.
Meditation and Yoga can be a lifesaver for people who are constantly operating on an emotionally intense plain. It can help channel all that energy and turn it into fuel for better activities.
6. Become your own safe space
In moments of anguish, our first reaction is to always get away from our own selves.
We often find destructive ways of distracting ourselves. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could be your own safe space?
When the next destructive thought crosses your mind, egging you on to doing something terrible, you’ll be able to take control of the moment. You’ll be able to choose a better path for yourself.
Hopefully and with enough effort, you’ll be able to exorcise all the pain and negativity which will help you become your own safe space.
7. Better awareness of the world around you
Masters at meditation, during their sessions, are able to completely cut themselves off from the world. No external stimuli impinges on their conscious.
They could be sitting in the middle of the busiest train station and the noise won’t register. It takes a lot practice to reach this stage.
Those who are able to do this must have immense spiritual strength.
While spiritual strength can help you cut yourself off from the world at will, it can also make you more aware.
When you meditate, you focus all your energy and when you turn this focus onto your own environment and the people around you, you pick up on cues you wouldn’t have noticed before.
It makes you more intuitive. Your observation skills are sharpened.
Even on a good day, we miss most of what goes on around us.
Spiritual practices can help change that.
I implore you to give it an honest try! Cultivating spiritual practices is one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I have had moments in my life when nothing helped. There were anxiety attacks and periods of depression.
At night, I would wake up covered in sweat, shaking like a leaf, with a scream stuck inside my head. I developed a tremor in my hand. I became paranoid and nervous.
For a while, I found different self-destructive ways to deal with the pain.
Except, I am a smart girl and even while I indulged in said self-destructive outlets, I was fully aware of what I was doing and how it was going to end.
Obviously, I didn’t just wake up and realise that I was doing something wrong. It was a long, painstaking process.
The thing is that when I did wake up to my own reality, I was stunned and scared. I wanted to fix everything about myself.
I desperately wanted to be new and shiny.
Needless to say, that can’t be done. You can’t undo your past and eventually, you learn to be grateful for it.
It took me a while to realise that the idea wasn’t to do damage control. I needed to cleanse my soul of all the negativity, pain, and anguish I had gathered into it.
My mind, body, and soul needed change that would last.
So, I worked on finding solutions that suited my needs without pushing me too hard or too fast.
If you’ve ever been through trauma of any kind, you know that your mind is hopelessly vulnerable to every thought that comes into its confines.
You are vulnerable to the people you come into contact with. Keeping that in mind and in the absence of any genius ideas, I chose to go basic – just do more of what already feels good to you.
In the past, I had found comfort in god. Talking to god made me feel good.
So, I started praying more.
I follow all the Hindu rituals when I say my prayers. The very act of washing my skin before I could sit down to pray, wearing clean clothes, lighting the lamp – all of it made me feel calmer.
It made time stop for me. More importantly, it silenced the noise inside my head.
Another thing that helped was working out. Every time the thoughts would start to overwhelm me, I would go for a run.
I would run so far and so fast that my lungs would start burning and that physical pain made every other pain go away. It was a pain I was comfortable with, one I preferred in fact.
Also, I surrounded myself with positive stimulus – Quotes, music, bright colours, chocolates, comedy bits.
That’s four things – exercise, showers, prayers, positive stimuli!
I started with these 4 things and eventually, I found other things that worked for me.
So, how does one go about choosing their own spiritual practice?
1. Acknowledge the problem
Really look at your life. Take stock! Identify your issues.
As I shared, one of my most crippling issues was a lack of control so that’s where I started.
Do the same. Once you are aware of your issues, you can find solutions that fit.
2. Don’t rush
The process will take time. So, don’t rush anything. Commit the time and energy required.
Be patient. I have been meditating for months and despite that, the longest I’ve been able to stay in the state is some 30 minutes.
Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t get frustrated.
The frustration and anger will just take you a step back.
3. Current sources of comfort
A lot of people suffer from obsessive thoughts and mindless emotional pain in which case it is difficult to pin down one particular cause.
In such a scenario, you should figure out what currently feels good.
Needless to say, it cannot be drugs, sex, violence, binge-anything, or self-harm. Those are not healthy, at all! If you’ve nothing, that’s okay too.
4. 5 minutes of nothingness
Just sit still for 5 minutes and do nothing. Focus your mind on feeling positive and thinking of what you can do to feel positive.
These 5 minutes away from the madness might give you time to breathe and sow the seeds of the right ideas.
This is fun! Maybe not to someone actively suffering, but it will give you moments of wonder and excitement.
A few days of praying, singing, and gratitude exercises gave me a full night’s sleep.
Something so ordinary and yet, I was giddy with relief and excitement.
It was hope – something we can all use more of!
So, Experiment with a bunch of stuff.
Try meditation. Do a little Yoga. Walk barefoot on grass. Sleep naked. Try praying and talking to god. Start a gratitude journal. Watch comedy before bed.
Something will click, I promise. When it does, you have something to work with.
Again, don’t be impatient and don’t get frustrated.
6. Start Small
Yes, experiment with a bunch of stuff and when you do find something that works, don’t go crazy.
Don’t expect miracles. Start small.
Do a 15 minute session of whatever you’ve chosen.
It will be hard to stay focused for very long but commit at least 15 minutes of your time every day.
7. Let go of fear
You can nurture absolutely nothing in a hostile environment and a mind full of fear is exactly that.
So, let go of fear and grab onto hope and faith.
There may be no overnight success, but things will work out in your favor. Choose exercises that make you feel brave.
Physical exercises always gave me confidence. You can try something on similar lines.
8. Have a visible reminder of your goal
I have a vision board in my room. Along with other images, my parent’s picture in on it. It constantly reminds of what and who I am fighting for, and why it’s so important that I win.
I can tolerate anything in the world except for my parent’s distress. That really makes me lose my shit!
So, I keep them in the forefront of my mind and keep going.
Whatever your goal is, find a visual representation for it. Put it up in a place where you’ll see it a lot in the span of a day.
This will give you the motivation you need. it will keep you going in moments of hopelessness.
9. Maintain a record
No matter what you are pursuing, it always helps to maintain a record. Map your own progress.
Write a few lines on your emotional state.
The day you notice that the text in the journal is mostly positive, a clear sign of progress – it will straightaway double your growth.
We all need constant reassurance that we are doing well.
An individual working on personal development has to see visible signs of change. The people around us often miss these subtle changes because they want us completely changed instantly and to THEIR idea of a happy person.
Not your problem!
Whatever your assurance you need, find it within yourself. A record maintained throughout the journey can help with that.
10. Find your tribe
Oftentimes, it helps to talk to people going through the same journey with the same goal.
Spiritual practices can sometimes be a little confusing. They are more about feeling than anything else.
Therefore, it helps to talk things over with others. This is especially helpful on bad days.
When you feel like giving up, it helps to have a friend that can talk you back into a calmer state of mind and remind you of what’s at stake.
If you can find people that can help, great! If not, that’s ok too. I went through the process on my own. It would have been nice to have someone else, but the fact that I did it on my own makes me more confident and proud.
11. Clean up your body
Whatever practice and path you choose for yourself, it will need a clean, healthy body. People suffering from depression find comfort in food and alcohol.
Spirituality will amount to nothing if you are getting hammered every night and waking up with a hangover.
Eating junk food will make your brain and body sluggish. You’re not gonna get much done with a carb addled brain.
Do yourself a favor and kick of such bad habits. Clean up your body.
Shower everyday! Eat as healthy as you can. Wear clean clothes. Keep your bed tidy. Clean up your house. Declutter!
Keep in mind, that it is a long, arduous journey. Things are going to get worse before they get better – cliche, but true!
If you take up meditation, during sessions your brain will throw up images that will stab at your open wounds. It will be painful and you’ll break out of your stasis with heart breaking sobs.
There will be one breakdown after another.
It will be the same with whatever you choose. Even if you aren’t suffering, cultivating a spiritual practice can be hard.
You are building a habit and that always takes time. Try to remember that.