Archives for November 2017

Finding Spirituality Through Meditation

So you want to begin adding spiritual practice to your everyday life, but you don't know where to start. Whether you currently are engaged in a formal religion or if you simply feel a calling to get in touch with your highest self, adding activities to enhance your connection to the divine is definitely worth the investment of your time and energy. As I've talked about throughout this series, meditation is one of the most impactful things you can do to reap the types of benefits you seek in a relatively short amount of time. The practice of meditation involves focusing your thoughts and releasing the stress of your everyday life. Taking this mindful step daily can have powerful effects on your life. Let's examine this idea further by looking at the ways you can find spirituality through meditation.

Move Beyond Consciousness

We often hinder ourselves from reaching our goals due to issues such as fear, skepticism or outside influence. Meditation lets you overcome such things by putting you in touch with your higher self, leaving behind your ego. You'll begin to gain clarity on your experience, thus having the ability to move forward in a more purposeful manner. Moving beyond your ego allows you to flourish in a more authentic way and to live in a way is unhindered.

Enhance Connections

This unfettered spirit attained through meditation brings you more clarity and the ability to leave behind your ego and the limits it can put upon you. Getting in touch with your higher self through meditating will open you up to new connections, as well. When you approach the world in a more open manner, not held back by fear or societal constraints, you're more apt to connect with others on a more authentic level. You won't be held back by limiting factors and can reach for the kinds of relationships and interactions that are important to you. While spirituality can be a solo pursuit that is quite personal, meaningful relationships do nourish your soul.

Improve Empathy and Compassion

In fact, it's been shown that meditation can even make you a more empathic and compassionate person. These are important character traits among highly spiritual people. Feeling compassion for others, as well as yourself, allows you to get in touch more readily with your higher purpose. A 2013 study by Harvard and Northwestern University researchers showed that the participant group who underwent eight weeks of training in two different meditation types responded more compassionately to a staged scenario involving providing assistance to a person in distress. Only 15 percent of those in the non-meditating group made an effort to help a person struggling with crutches, while 50 percent of the meditation group acted to assist.

Lessen Emotional Reactivity and Increase Calm

As reported by the American Psychological Association, meditation can decrease one's levels of emotional reactivity. Researchers studied people with various experience in the practice of mindfulness meditation. They found that meditation significantly helped participants to disengage from pictures that were emotionally upsetting, focusing their attention on a cognitive task instead. The ability to balance emotions with practical considerations is a valuable skill when it comes to reaching a high level of spirituality.

Meditation offers so many tangible benefits. It's been proven to be good for your body and mind. It also goes deeper by helping to prepare you for spiritual pursuits. Once you begin a practice of meditating, you'll see for yourself the ways in which it can help you to grow as a person.

Why You Should Make Meditation Part of Your Morning Routine

I've touched briefly on the concept of a morning routine when I talked about adding 30 minutes of reading to start off your day. Well, a morning routine consists of other activities to help focus your intent for the day ahead. It can be comprised of things that make sense for you, and everyone's morning routine will be different. However, one thing you should definitely think about including is meditation. The benefits of implementing an everyday habit when you first wake up are quite vast, and meditating during that time can totally boost those advantages.  Let's take a closer look at this concept to help you understand why you should make meditation part of your morning routine.

About Morning Routines

A morning routine is a habit of setting aside a regular amount of time each day for some sort of purposeful intention. It sets the tone for the rest of your day, and it can be comprised of various activities. The amount of time you spend on your morning routine is up to you. However, an hour is a significant amount that doesn't seem to give people too much trouble to attain. You can fit a great deal of purposeful meditation and spiritual growth work into that time. Beyond meditation, you may want to consider adding some of these activities to your morning ritual:

  • A glass of water with lemon for hydration and energy
  • Stretching or short exercise routine to warm your body up
  • Reading to open your mind and motivate you
  • Journaling to flesh out the ideas from what you've read or to reflect on issues of interest
  • Daily planning to get set for your day and to limit any surprises
  • Goal setting to place focus on your intentions for the day ahead and to provide you a map

These are just some examples. Your morning routine should be meaningful and useful to you. Feel free to get creative with it. You'll probably need to experiment a bit to figure out the best combination. But don't worry; it will come with time.

Why Morning Meditation?

Meditation is an excellent form of self-care. You're purposefully setting aside time to focus your thoughts and to spend a quiet moment to work toward achieving your highest self. Meditating helps you to create the calm and quiet mindset you need to start the day off right. It also helps you to develop the focus that can be carried onward as you encounter various problems or issues, making problem solving much easier. In fact, your overall state of mind will be enhanced through meditation. You'll feel you're more motivated to accomplish your goals, you have more persistence to push through obstacles and you're more patience when encountering minor difficulties. All of these are good things.

How to Make It a Habit

Creating a morning routine of meditation and mindfulness might take some work. Like most new activities, it will take practice to become a habit. However, there are some things you can do to help make this a habit that sticks. One way to do this is to know your why. Write down the reasons why you'd like to make this routine a daily habit. Stick the list somewhere visible as a reminder and to motivate you. You may also want to recruit a buddy to share the experience with you. Having an accountability partner is useful because you'll have a support system and someone to whom you must answer if you find yourself slacking. Your morning routine buddy can be a spouse or roommate within your home or a friend who doesn't live with you. Just be sure to check in with that person at least every few days and as needed for encouragement. Don't give up. Try to at least commit to your morning routine for a month. As you may know, repetition is the key to forming lasting habits.

Meditation is a crucial part of a strong morning routine. Hopefully, you now get a better picture of how the two go hand in hand, along with the powerful benefits they can offer. Give it a try for a month and see just how your life transforms.

Consider Finding a Spiritual Adviser

Hopefully, by this point on our journey together, you're starting to understand what spirituality is, how meditation can help you to grow a spiritual practice of your own and just why it's important to do so. However, you still might feel like becoming a more spiritual person seems like a monumental task. It's okay to feel a bit overwhelmed. Making a dramatic shift in the way you approach life can be a bit intimidating. The truth is you don't have to go it alone. There are coaches out there with specific spiritual expertise that can help you out. These advisers aren't just for the rich and famous. They're accessible to regular people like you and me. Keep reading below to discover what you need to know about finding a spiritual adviser.

What Is a Spiritual Adviser?

A spiritual adviser is a professional who can help you to develop your own spiritual path. These folks are trained in various aspects of spirituality, and they can assist you in clarifying your reasons for wishing to become more enlightened, as well as provide you with specific action steps to reach your goals. A spiritual adviser will take time to truly listen to you and will take your specific needs into consideration when offering advice. You can count on this person as a resource to give you information you're lacking and to encourage you along your journey when you're feeling unsure.

Benefits of Spiritual Advisers

There are lots of concrete benefits of spiritual advisers. By obtaining one, you'll real numerous rewards you may not have otherwise encountered on your own. At the very least, a professional guide can help to save you time on your journey. Your adviser can be a sounding board for you to air your frustrations. They can then provide you the much-needed guidance you seek, allowing you to move forward toward achieving your highest self. By talking about your concerns, motivations and goals with a spiritual adviser, you can gain clarity that is often missed when trying to work through an issue on your own. An outside perspective is invaluable to self-growth of any kind. Finally, if you find yourself getting off track in your pursuits, your adviser can gently guide you back on course.

What to Look for in a Spiritual Adviser

As you can imagine, there are lots of people out there advertising themselves as experts in spirituality who truly aren't qualified nor do they have their clients' best interests at heart. You can do a Google search for “spiritual adviser', but be aware that there are likely to be fraudsters among the results. Ask your friends and loved ones for advice on trusted sources of guidance. Perhaps you can start with your own clergy person if you're religious or with your yoga instructor if this is something you practice. Anyone with an interest in spirituality may be a good starting point. As to what you should look for in a spiritual adviser, let me give you a few tips. Ask about their training and background. This information should paint you a picture of whether their philosophy and approach are in alignment with your own. Pay attention as to how much a potential adviser listens. It's important to understand that spiritual advisement isn't the same as therapy. You're not looking for someone to tell you what to do. You want an adviser who will hear what's important to you and point you in a direction that is congruent with your personality and values. Most of all trust your gut. If you feel any sense of concern, move on to the next candidate.

As you can see, a spiritual adviser can be an invaluable guide on your path to the divine. With a little research and effort, you're sure to find just the right one to walk with you along your journey.

Develop Your Spiritual Side with 30 Minutes of Morning Reading

As you've learned, the point of meditation is to focus your mind and spirituality is a pursuit toward achieving a higher purpose for your life. One way to further increase these overarching goals is to create a morning routine. This is a time when you first wake up, before you start your day, in which you reflect upon your goals and take time to consider the things that are most important to you. This practice allows you to fully get in touch with yourself and to establish a positive mindset for the day ahead. An important part of this ritual is morning reading. As I've noted in this series, reading and research are essential components to a successful spiritual pursuit. Read on to discover how to develop your spiritual side with 30 minutes of morning reading, along with some insight on how to structure that time.

How to Find the Time

Most of us lead pretty busy lives. It can be hard to carve out even a few moments for ourselves during the day, let alone a half hour to read and some additional time for spiritual reflection of other types. And if you're already not a morning person? Well, you might think this goal is an impossible task. However, once you begin to experience a morning routine and its benefits, you'll likely start to do all you can to make the time for it. Until then, let me give you a few suggestions to try to help you make the transition as easy as possible. First, you'll need to wake up earlier. This is essential for nearly anyone wishing to establish a morning reading habit. It's not likely you can find an extra hour in your current wake-up routine, though you could try to adjust your regular habits to try to make it happen. To help you wake up at an earlier hour, you may want to push some of your usual early activities another time. For example, you could start taking your shower in the evening or wait until your lunch break to catch up on your emails. A little creativity and tweaking should give you plenty of time for this new practice.

What to Read

Next, you may wonder what types of material you should read. Honestly? Anything, really. The simple act of starting your day with words is a way to renew your spirit and to spark your enthusiasm for the hours ahead of you. Some choices may work better than others, depending on your specific desired outcome of this ritual. If you want to relax your state of mind and recharge your creativity, getting lost in a fictional story might do the trick. Many folks find non-fiction to be more suited to their spiritual pursuits. Reading about topics such as productivity hacks, a particular hobby or interest, a new skill you'd like to learn or a certain philosophical school of thought might start your day off on an introspective track. This can prompt you to look for additional self-growth opportunities throughout the next several hours.

Benefits of Morning Reading

The benefits of morning reading are vast. First of all, it gives you a break and is a form of self-care. It's not often we treat ourselves to downtime. Even the act of scheduling a leisure activity itself can be stressful. Building this time into your morning will soon become second nature, and it has powerful implications for your well-being. Plus, reading can be incredibly motivational and inspiring. When you come across ideas that excite you in a particular book, you're likely to take that sense of enthusiasm with you throughout your day. Finally, reading is a form of meditation. It focuses your mind, and you're no longer letting your thoughts wander to the worries in your world. Thus, the benefits are quite similar to spending a half hour meditating.

Do you have an idea now of just what carving out 30 minutes in your morning to read can do for you? It's a part of a greater spiritual routine that offers many rewards.

An Introduction to Breathing Meditation

I mentioned at the beginning of our challenge that there are many types of meditation. Which you choose will ultimately be based on your purpose and your preference. I'd like to get started talking about specific kinds by telling you about the most basic, and that's breathing meditation. Some refer to it as mindful breathing or mindful meditation. It may be a simple process, but it's a powerful one. Let's take a look at what breathing meditation is, its benefits and how to do it.

About Breathing Meditation

Meditation is all about focusing your mind, and that's just what paying attention to your breath does. By taking deep breaths and letting them out in a controlled manner, you're able to reach a state of calmness and serenity. This state is both physical and mental. In monitoring your breath, you're controlling your focus. The technique of controlled breathing is an ancient one that has withstood the test of time because it works. It's the awareness of your breath that will help to return your focus and to center you while meditating.

Benefits of Mindful Breathing

One of the biggest benefits of mindful breathing is its ability to provide stress relief. As I noted above, deep, focused breathing is calming. This is a technique that goes beyond your meditation practice. You can use it anywhere and at any time when you're feeling stressed. Again, mindfulness meditation helps to focus and center you by making a connection between mind and body. Some say it brings about enlightenment. Being aware of your breath leads you to be mindful of the present moment. This is a powerful skill that not many possess. In today's hectic world, our minds often seem to control us, going about in a million different directions. Mindful meditation puts us in control of our thoughts, allowing us to see things more clearly. Finally, breathing meditation teaches you to let go of negativity. You'll soon learn that you have a negative thought, but simply let it go and to pass you by. This skill can be transferred to other areas of your life beyond your meditation practice.

How to Perform Breathing Meditation

First, you'll want to find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. You could choose a chair, while sitting up straight with your back not resting on the chair back. Or the floor in a cross-legged position is fine. Just try to keep your spine as straight as possible. You can close your eyes or leave them open. Take a moment to remind yourself that it's your breathing that's important in this exercise. Be sure to return to your breath if your mind starts to wander. Then start to breathe, in and out, while paying attention to its cadence. You can breathe deeply through your diaphragm, allowing your belly to expand as you inhale. Many say this is the most cleansing and calming type of breath. However, breathing in a more shallow way in which only your chest rises with each breath is fine, too. Choose which is most natural and comfortable to you. Once you begin to fall into a comfortable breathing pattern, focus on that breath. Return to it if your thoughts start to drift. Always bring your attention back to your breathing. Do this for about ten minutes. You can set a timer to help you keep track.

As with any new activity, it will take time and practice before you're able to feel in control of your thoughts. That's okay. Be gentle on yourself and keep trying. Soon you'll find your rhythm and will begin to see those benefits of breathing meditation in action.