BY Alice Grist
Many people are under a misguided belief that to live a spiritual life one must have an addiction to incense, a passport stamp proving a life changing trip to India and a guru on speed dial. We are prone to believing that Spiritual Living is a way of life gifted only to the most zen of us all, the ones whose hippy trippy feet float through the ether that is life, unaffected by drama and chaos and ushering in good vibes, cool karma and with a zing of unconditional love in their aura.
For too long the way of the spiritual has been tucked just out of reach, beholden only to those who have had some kind of awakening, or who have the patience to meditate day in, day out. Spiritual Living is, in my opinion, none of the above. Spiritual Living is accessible to all of us, because we all are Spirit. Simple. Now whether you believe in angels, goddesses, the law of attraction or fairies at the bottom of your garden, if you believe that there is more to life, then you are a spirit who is becoming aware of his or her own spiritual state. And we are all capable of getting a little more in touch with our spiritual side; trips to India and gurus are not required.
I believe you will rarely find your soul on a foreign retreat or in the words of the latest spiritual bestseller, but you will find your spirit in the pages of your own life. Indeed a trip to your local supermarket can be infinitely more enlightening than an audience with the Dalai Lama. But first you must understand that the power to know your spirit and your spiritual nature exists in the annals of your everyday life.
Here are my top ten tips to spiritualizing your life:
1) Spirituality is not religion. It’s not the same thing that your parents or the guy in the suit knocking on your front door is pedaling. Spirituality arises from somewhere deep inside you. It is a belief that you harbor for no apparent reason. You believe there is more to life, and whilst you can’t quantify or fully explain what that belief is, you have felt it affirmed a hundred times – perhaps through intuitions proven correct, amazing coincidences, a feeling of oneness, or a sign from a dearly departed one that you just couldn’t argue with. Tap into this inner belief and hold it close. It may not be visible, but I believe it is very real.
2) One of the greatest mountains any spiritually inclined person has to cross is their own wayward mind and their egos. Part of becoming spiritual is about taking control of your own inner chatter and making it healthier. Mediation can help, but also just recognizing your own negative patterns, your own ‘Bitching, Moaning and Whining (BMW’ing)’. Spirituality is about trusting in the path of your life, and whilst sometimes that path seems very hard, or people are put there to cross you, it’s your job to think positively, and when relevant to release any negativity or foul thoughts you may have. Cleansing your mind and really taking control of your thoughts is a sure fire way to connect with your higher self and your intuition. When you do this, life becomes a little easier.
3) Life still goes on, hardships and all. We all know that life is full of death, destruction, pain and chaos, and yet when it happens to us we balk at the unfairness of it all. Being spiritual means taking a step back, trying to see how are hardships are in fact great educators. Think back to your last set of difficulties and consider how these have changed you as a person, for the better. Life is damned hard, but if we go with the flow of that hardship we stop fighting and we start learning. Try to remember that all things happen for reason, even the really awful things.
4) There are no mistakes. Stop beating yourself up about something you did, said or thought. Spiritual Living is not about being perfect. We are not here to float off into the divine ether quite yet. We are here to be human, we are here to mess up, and sometimes we mess up quite magnificently. We break hearts, we hurt people, we hurt ourselves. As long as we choose to learn from those mistakes and not to repeat them then we are living spiritually. Go easy on your self. You are a spiritual being in a human body for a reason. Allow yourself that human weakness, and choose to learn from it.
5) Don’t believe the hype. You are so much more than what you own, what you look like or what designer handbag you are carrying. We live in a very ‘dumb culture’ of products, labels and appearance. It’s not real. What is real is the very soul of you, the kindness you show and the love you offer. So what if you carry a Fendi bag or a plastic one with holes in it? As long as you get from A to B and scatter a little sunshine as you go then who really cares.
6) Love is not restricted to our personal partnerships. The Buddha recommended that we treat all people as though they were our kind and loving mother. Try it for a day. Even to those people you can’t stand. Offer out love and see how the world alters a little bit. Be patient, generous and thoughtful. Put others first. Spiritual Living is about getting back in contact with our souls and then the souls of others, to whom we are intimately connected. Offer out love and watch as the world becomes a little bit sweeter.
7) Take time out to explore the natural world. City dwellers visit the park or simply look up to the sky. Shamanistic people believe that all things, even the paper you are reading this on, have a spirit. In my life I have been granted signs and signals from nature, and I’ve enjoyed its restorative power. We are, after all, organic, living material, yet we close ourselves off with machines, bricks and walls. Get out into the open and feel the natural peace of nature. Notice the clarity that nature can bring to your frazzled mind.
8) Take time out to connect to your Soul. Follow your intuition, wherever it may take you. If you aren’t sure what your intuition feels like, then pay attention to your gut instinct, that initial feeling or thought that comes over you when you meet a new person, or are offered something new. Try not to override that instinct. Think of all the times when you have said ‘I wish I’d listened to my self’. Trust that intuition and see where it takes you!
9) Take time out to release your worries and your problems. We all spend so much time over thinking our ‘issues’, when thinking about them really solves nothing. Choose to believe in a higher scheme of things, believe that you are guided and cared for, and release those problems. Allow them to fix themselves. Stand back and take notice how things are resolved without you having to think another thought about them. Surrender and release your life to your version of spirit and allow things to go with the flow.
10) Choose to have faith, ask for a sign and be prepared to believe that sign when it comes to you. This is a powerful exercise that can transform lives. Make a little pledge in your mind right now, and simply ask that your faith be proven. The sign that comes will be totally unique to you, but can kick start an inner journey that will take you inward, outward and to a happier place of being. Ask for a sign, trust it will come, and when it does do a little whoop and holler of joy. Baby you are spiritual, now it’s simply time to start believing it!