Do you have a stirring in your soul to explore spirituality, but feel a little overwhelmed at how you can bring spiritual practices into your current life. Are you already so bogged down for time, that, although there is a curiosity inside of you, and you want to bring more zen into your life, you just can't figure out how you could possibly make the the time. I've got great news! You are ALREADY doing spiritual practices in your everyday life, you just don't know it! All that is required is a shift in awareness as you are doing these activities and voila- you have a spiritual practice that fits effortlessly into your life.
Here are 5 spiritual practices you may already be doing, and ideas of how you can tweak them to be more present to the amazing benefits of these practices:
1. Connecting with nature
Whether you love hiking, playing in the park with your kids, enjoy digging in the garden, or even watering your house plants, every time you do so, you are connecting with nature. Take this to a deeper level by pausing when you're connecting with nature. Listen to the birds while you are outside, really hear their song. Feel the texture of the leaves of your houseplants as you dust them. Be aware of consciously connecting with Mother Earth every time you touch dirt. Slow down and feel this connection with nature. In Japan they practice something called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. In Japanese research spending time in the forest has scientifically shown to reduce stress, improve move, increase focus in everyone including kids with ADHD, and more!
I remember my high school binders would be covered with doodles, and while I don't doodle quite as much any more, I still recognize the benefits of answering this call to be creative. While there is wonderful research about the benefits of doodling, including the 2009 University of Plymouth's Psychology Professor Jackie Andrade's research that shows doodling increases attention and memory, there is a definite soulful connection when it comes to making quick sketches on paper. I often get inspired to doodle when I'm journalling. The sketches that flow are powerful energetically, and often hold messages for me. There is also something relaxing about doodling that seems to take me to a different feeling and thinking plane.
3. Snuggling with your Pet
I have a beautiful cat named Cassie. I also call her my Yoda. She wakes me up early to meditate. So my morning routine consists of her meowing and nudging me in bed, inviting me to get up. I say a prayer, get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and feed Cassie. As soon as the kettle is boiled and my tea is steeped, it's time for my morning practice. And there was Cassie stretched out on her side, beckoning me to come pet her. When we first started this routine, I would pet her for a moment, then rush off to my special meditation space, eager to begin my practice. Then it dawned on me: petting Cassie was part of my spiritual practice. Instead of being ready to rush off, I got present to her beautiful fur and how soft it felt. I smiled as I felt the vibration of her purr in my hands, delighting in the way that she spread her love in the world. I took time to admire her wonderful qualities: enjoying extreme self care, a brave guard cat, a ferocious hunter, an elegant kitty and a loving member of our family. This connection time puts me in a beautiful heart space. And your connection time with your pet can do that too.
4. Expressing Gratitude
Every time you say thank you to someone you are expressing gratitude. According to Greater Good, The Science of A Meaningful Life, the practice of gratitude has so many benefits including higher levels of positive emotions, stronger immune system and lower blood pressure. These are wonderful side effects yet, you can take your thank you's to more meaningful level, by pausing and looking the person in the eye when you say thank you, and be specific in saying what you are grateful for. You can also reach out to someone to let them know how grateful you are for what they do in your life or in the world. This deeper expression of gratitude makes you, the giver of thanks, feel really good, and the receiver feels amazing too, which encourages them to keep doing what they are doing.
I love to dance, but I have to admit that I don't dance nearly as often as I want to. Yet, there are times when I just can't resist the urge in my body to move when I hear (out loud or in my head) one of my favourite songs, or even a song I don't know that has an amazing beat.
It's like my soul just wants to move my body and express myself. I know that in the past, when I was out somewhere and feeling self conscious, that my dance moves were restrictive. Now, I feel like I can dance like no one is watching, even when I'm at a wedding or gala and I have people coming up to me telling me I'm a good dancer- something I certainly never expected.
You see, it's when we give our body and soul permission to express ourselves as it wishes to, that we are able to move so gracefully and effortlessly- better than we can if we try to copy other people's moves. Simply listen to where your body wants to go, and go there.
So just do it! Play some music as you get ready in the morning and allow yourself to sway those beautiful hips. It gets your blood and energy flowing and starts of your day in a positive way.
We have so many activities that we do in our day to day lives that can be transformed into a spiritual practice by simply being more present and aware in the moment. Now that you can see how many spiritual practices you are already doing, you can take them to a deeper level and consciously create a spiritual practice that fits your heart's desire and schedule with ease.