Spirituality has been on the rise in recent years. More and more young people are finding themselves to be very spiritual, and less religious, and there has even been a decrease in self-proclaimed atheists. Despite the rise in spiritual practices, it may feel overwhelming and confusing in the beginning. Additionally, having spiritual beliefs is much more than lighting sage once a week, curating the perfect collection of crystals, or reading your Bible once a week. All of these things are wonderful and can be very beneficial, but will only be empty actions if your heart is not involved as well.
Regardless of whatever your religious or spiritual practices are, they are aspects of yourself that are vital to protect and strengthen in life and in quarantine. Spirituality bleeds into every aspect of our lives, relationships, and personal development. This alone makes spirituality a worthwhile topic and potentially relevant to anyone with a current belief system or someone who may be curious to begin one.
I have created this list of 6 ways to begin or strengthen your spiritual practice. It is meant to be applicable to anyone who finds that it resonates with them, and it is not meant to deter anyone away from their already existing practices.
6 Things You Can Do Today to Create a Spiritual Practice
For individuals who have a spiritual practice, for religious people, and myself, there is a common theme of believing in something higher and greater than you. For some people this is God. For others, it is the Universe, Source, Brahma, and others. Regardless of whatever this being may be for you, the key to establishing a strong spiritual connection is to establish a relationship with this higher being. For me, its God. For more spiritual/less religious people its Source or Universe. In Hinduism, Brahma is an avatar of Brahmin (the source of consciousness). I'm not here to convince you of which one is real or better, I'm here to make the presence known and invite you to pray.
Prayer is open communication with God (or whatever you choose to call it). You can pray when you are happy, grateful, sad, angry, or any other emotion. You can ask for what you need, what you want, pray for yourself, and pray for others. Even if you don't experience a life changing moment when praying, just thinking your prayer or saying it out loud can be a source of comfort.
For others, prayer may not be "for them." This is where meditation comes in. Before you begin a meditation practice, it may be helpful to set an intention before you start. What do you want to gain from your meditation experience? What insight are you looking for? Sometimes the answers to our most burning questions, or the solutions to a problem already exist within our subconscious and meditation is a way to put your thoughts to rest and allow the feelings or answers to come to you.
Rituals are apart of your routine that enhance your growth and/or connection with God (or whatever you choose to call it). And not all rituals need to have a spiritual focus to be beneficial. For some, a ritual may include listening to a podcast every day, cleaning your room, or maybe attending a church service.
Your rituals should be personal to you and not feel forced. For me, I practice "morning manifestations," which is in essence future journaling. I have a dedicated folder in the notes app on my phone, and I take a few minutes for myself every morning to set intentions for the day/week, write out things I'm grateful for, or write about something that hasn't happened as if it already has. This is the first thing that I do almost every morning, and all for myself.
Perhaps journaling at night before bed, reading a new book, or lighting a candle and saying a prayer could be your ritual. There is abundant freedom in this practice, and can be beneficial as long as it is done for your own fulfillment and relationship with God (or whatever you choose to call it).
3. Educate Yourself
Luckily for us, we live in a time of abundant information. When beginning to seek or when strengthening our religious or spiritual connection, it is always beneficial to educate ourselves. You can begin by asking those around you, or looking for new information online. Now, I'm not saying Google search "Is God real?" Science doesn't really explore spirituality and chances are, there is some aspect of yourself or your subconscious that believes there is something out there. If you're curious about finding ways to strengthen your connection with God (or whatever you choose to call it), or you want to learn more about the history of your beliefs, then a simple Google search can aid immensely in finding information that enhances your knowledge.
In doing this though, you may find information that doesn't sit right with you. You may learn about religions or spiritual practices that you don't really like or find to be outlandish. But in turn, you will also encounter things that truly resonate with you that you may want to adopt into your life. It can't hurt to look for it, even if you're unsure of what you're looking for.
4. Personal Development
Whether you're spiritual or religious or not, personal development is something you can seek. There really is no harm in working on becoming a better version of yourself. You can start by asking your loved ones for some constructive criticism, but you could ask in prayer or in your intention before meditating. You can trust your instinct when you feel a certain way about actions you perform, you can read the Bible, go to a service, and you can learn more and try to enhance your knowledge and grow as an individual after educating yourself. Personal development should be AT LEAST partly inspired by prayer/what may come to you in meditation, and by what you learn after educating yourself/expanding your knowledge. It can also come to you as you go through life and achieve (or not achieve) your goals.
5. Be Yourself
When seeking or strengthening a spiritual or religious practice, it can sometimes feel daunting. There may be a reputation that follows these things with both positives and negatives, but anything that you choose to follow should not strip you of your personality or values. Adapting a belief system and rituals into your life can bring up fears of becoming "that one super spiritual person," but this isn't a bad thing as long as you stay true to yourself and what you believe. Your spirituality or religious identity should not be hindering your growth but promoting it, along with your view of yourself and the world. Regardless of what you believe, your self should not be taken away when finding something to believe in that works for you.
6. Find a Community
Everything above is great and arguably needed in developing or strengthening your spiritual practice, but being apart of a community is essentially the cherry on top. Finding and participating in a group of like minded people can enhance your spiritual practices, and you will in turn be helping to enhance the practices of those around you. A community can look like a small group of people who study the Word together, your close friends with similar beliefs, church, or your family. For me, I spark spiritual conversations with my friends, and I try to follow people on social media who have a similar belief system to my own so that I am feeding myself information that is both validating and thought provoking. And if something I see doesn't sit right with me or goes against my values, then I simply unfollow them. For other people, it's going to church with the same people once or twice a week. Whatever form of community and communication works for you, your values, and your lifestyle, is the way to go.
Religion and spirituality is involved in our daily lives, whether that is in the culture of the groups we associate with, or we have religious family members. As time progresses, more and more people are finding themselves to be spiritual. This also means that more and more people are seeking and searching for something that resonates with them. Whatever path you think you might want to explore is open and waiting for you, all you have to do is open up to it and seek it.
What spiritual practices do you follow? Any favorite rituals you do daily or weekly? Share them in the comments below!
Maren Hoflund MT HHP, is a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner based in San Diego. This her self created space where she explores topics such as mental and physical health, self care, spirituality, and child development; in addition to her poetry and prose.