Part of my big things this year was to explore spirituality. Spirituality means different things to different people. Because of my upbringing, I do associate spirituality with observing the rituals of a religious service, reading religious texts, and prayer. However, I’ve not been a regular church-goer now for a couple of years. But I am discovering different sides to my personal spirituality – a larger sense of the Universe, a need for connection to something more, enjoying quiet time in reflection, and a need for better understanding of my true self. Not the self that is “expected” by society or family, but my true self.
The introspection of spiritual exploration is supposed to offer clarity and comfort. I am also hoping that my spiritual exploration will allow my “life purpose” to make itself known. Yes, I can hope!
What practices does my spirituality exploration currently include?
- Yoga. I love the physicality of yoga – the body strengthening and flexibility. What I need to build into my yoga practice is more breath awareness and more connection to the emotions within.
- Meditation. The habit creation of traditional meditation (the silent breathing mantra kind) continues to elude me. But I continue to try on 21-day experiences! I’ve found this definition of meditation fits me better: “Meditation techniques include breath work and body scans, yoga, affirmations and visualizations, mindful eating, reflection, and walks in nature.” Much of that I am doing!
- My morning journal is a habit I love. Thoughts, dreams, what’s happening, what’s frustrating, what’s worrying, life reflections. I use it to track things and as a source of self-encouragement. It is the place I take time to be aware of my emotions, do body scans, practice self-love (celebrate my uniqueness and my strengths), and cultivate gratitude.
- I am enjoying the reading of inspirational writing and the response I’m getting to my summary posts. (Links here: Ageless Soul, Wise Woman part 1, Wise Woman part 2). I’ve got two more inspirational books read and ready for summarizing. And many additional books on the to-read pile!
- Mindfulness. A work in progress. I am trying to pay attention to the moment. Appreciating nature – from the beach waves, to the morning sun through the trees, to the slight breeze and bird song on a 90-degree day. Listening fully to someone speak and asking follow-up questions (versus planning a one-up-man-ship story). Being aware of my thoughts and my conditioned response (often judgmental or self-loathing).
- Connections. Another work in progress. Some weeks I feel that this is a success point and then others, I feel like this is a failure. A good (local – IRL) friend just moved out of the country for 3 years; another (local – IRL) returned to work full-time, eliminating our regular walk & talks. I know friendships morph and there are “friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for life.” But it’s hard when you know some life-affirming connections are being shifted, and possibly severed. (And yeah, I expect you both will say “No” to the severed when you read this.)
- Practice kindness. I tend to be critical and judgmental. Years of critical thinking practice have made this my conditioned response, not only towards others, but towards myself as well. I am increasing my awareness of this thinking, learning my triggers, and trying to switch towards acceptance and kindness.
Maybe I’m not joining a new church, but I do feel a deeper sense of connection to life and others with the above practices.
What other elements are part of your own spirituality practice?