Spirituality is a path you choose to take, a journey you embark upon with no set destination. In deciding to explore spiritual ways of living, you’re committing to looking within and increasing your faith in life.
“Spirituality means, among other things, renouncing the belief that one has control over the course of one’s entire life and learning to have a friendly attitude with the unknown or mysteries in our individual journey,” says Desiree Marin, a life coach who helps people fulfill their spiritual goals.
There are countless ways to jump-start being spiritual, but behind every outlet is the most important element: you. As you look deeply into your heart for answers, you will find the true you, the one that has been pushed beneath your outward fears and insecurities.
Being Spiritual: Ego vs. Spirit
As you embark upon the first 30 days of a spiritual journey, you should begin to allow your heart to lead, as opposed to your ego side, which generates fear and insecurity.
After accidentally running over and killing a small child, Gary King sank into years of a dark depression. Then he realized that he had a choice: to live from his ego (which was afraid to move forward) or to live from his heart (which would allow him to grow).
“The accident was one of the most powerful blessings in my whole lifetime,” explains King. “In learning to forgive myself, I realized that there was something about the experience that was so profound that I was supposed to do something with it.”
As you become more familiar with your spirit, you’ll recognize it in other people, as well, discovering that we’re connected by the simple fact that we’re all human beings capable of love.
Being Spiritual: The Power of the Present
Creating a more spiritual life often starts with tuning into the present. Since the past is gone and the future is unknown, being 100% in the present allows you to truly live life.
“You can never step in the same river twice and you can’t breathe in the same breath twice, so nothing is permanent, fixed the way it is,” says Wayne Dyer, author of 31 books on spirituality and self-improvement.
A yoga class helped Peter Krey* become aware of just how much energy he gives to the past and the future when the instructor asked the students to focus on their thoughts. “The teacher asked us to ‘stay in the room,’ ” Krey says. “I realized that by letting my mind wander, I was not allowing myself to enjoy the class. I was actually robbing myself of what I was experiencing. But I found that I could snap back into the present just by focusing on my breath.”
To function in the world, it’s sometimes necessary to look forward or step into the past, but it’s essential not to get lost in either one and to remember that the present is the only true reality.
Gauging Your Spirituality: Do You Look In or Out?
During the first 30 days of being spiritual, you’ll begin to notice the negatives of living with an outward perspective, constantly seeking validation. To move toward an inward life, Dyer recommends adjusting the thoughts that create our reality. “It’s important to see that I’m not what I have, that I am not what I do and that I am not what others think about me,” he explains.
Maria Russo* experienced firsthand the power of turning her attention to the inside. She and her husband had been married just six months, but they fought constantly about money, the time he spent with friends and when to have a baby.
When Maria was on the verge of asking for a divorce, she decided to look within. “I asked if this man was right for me,” she recalls. “I remained quiet and still and the answer came to me in a resounding peace that filled my body and mind. When my husband came home later that night, I saw him in a new light, focusing on what I did have: a loving, committed partner who was willing to grow with me.”
Your Spiritual Journey: You’re Never Alone
After a series of harrowing events in which she was raped, robbed and discovered that her husband had been having affairs, Christina Markenson* turned to prayer. “I might never know the purpose of why I went through such hard times, but I knew that a life without prayer would not make things any better,” she says. “Prayer was my way of dealing, of getting all of that anger, hurt and disbelief out in a safe way.”
One of the greatest rewards of being spiritual—in addition to general happiness and peace of mind—is the knowledge that you’re never alone. There’s help on the divine level, and help on the earthly level through support groups, therapists, friends and online resources.
As you explore your spirituality, remember that it’s not necessary to become an instant master. You just need to start at the beginning. Today, you can begin simply by laughing more.
* name(s) have been changed