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Creating a Spiritual Practice: a guide for those of us who like to do it all.

Updated on September 4, 2014

Wherever to begin?

A good spiritual practice does not come into being overnight. It isn't as easy as chanting "om" and saying the Rosary. A good spiritual practice happens over the course of a lifetime, and isn't always done perfectly. That is why it is called a practice.

Creating a spiritual practice is much like painting a masterpiece. You sit down at the canvas and just pick up the brush. Where do you begin? First some colors must be gathered, mixed, prepared...then maybe just maybe you feel as if you should start painting with cerulean blue. Just take a dab of paint at first, try not to go too heavy handed in the beginning. Now remember, this will not be done overnight. I have been creating a spiritual practice for years now. Layers of paint have added, colors mixed, a little turpentine comes in handy when something didn't work.

First make a list of exactly you would like the end result to be: enlightenment, peace, to be a better person, to be connected to a supernatural Higher Power, such as God or Jehovah. Just why do you even need to create a spiritual practice? And how will you choose which path you wish to follow? There are many paths up the mountain: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Paganism just to name a few. If you were raised in a household that practiced organized religion, you have a few tools in your belt already, be it prayer or meditation, yoga, or pacifism. Try making a list of all the ways that you already have a practice set in place. Then make a list of all of the practices you might enjoy adding to your daily routine. Remember, these are lists, not orders. Pick one of the practices you would enjoy and add it to your day, for just five minutes, the time you might be scanning Facebook or daydreaming. Now continue to practice, it takes a bit to have something become routine. Once you automatically perform your chosen practice, maybe glance at the list again, or not. Your choice. Maybe you might like to visit a spiritual retreat center for a kick start. In my area alone I can recommend Kripalu or Omega. I have also created a retreat of my own when I have a little time. Just spending one day alone, doing the things that fulfill you, can be uplifting and prompt the addition of healthy habits. Enjoy the process and enjoy the journey, it is yours for the taking.

Get out into Nature

Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod, MA

Spiritual Practice Poll

What is the status of your spiritual practice today?

See results

My Story

I have been creating a spiritual practice for years. I grew up in an Episcopalian household, but when I went off on my own I began to try other faiths, veering away from a Patriarchal God, with whom I couldn't identify. I found a safe haven in the Unitarian Church, where exploring one's beliefs was paramount. My first real step toward a spiritual practice didn't come via a church, it came when I decided to become a vegetarian. This was the beginning of a long road to becoming a kinder, gentler person, and culminating two years ago when I made the leap into a vegan lifestyle. "First do no harm." I then had to take that tenet and apply it to myself. How was I harming myself? I abused food, alcohol, and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. The addictions have slowly, over the past few years. melted away. First the cigarettes, then the alcohol, then my food choices began to change, eliminating one harmful food at a time. Brendan Brazier, in his book Thrive, emphasizes slow change, even if it is for the better, too many changes at once will throw the body into shock. Eventually, I started to exercise, running a mile, then two, and years later, a marathon. In order for a new practice to stick, it has to be part of my daily routine. I began to write Morning Pages, an exercise from Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. This practice lasted for several years. I have tried many things over the years, my daily practice is constantly changing. Today I wake up and pray, I meditate for five minutes, I go for a run before the sun rises, I breathe in God and breathe out fear, I smile, I listen, and eat vegan food. When I come home, I either go to a yoga class or practice with a video in my living room. I write a gratitude list before bed and I say thank you. I would love to incorporate more than five minutes of silent meditation per day. Maybe some day the time will come. If I ask for it, it usually does.

Choose your own path.

Berkshire Trails
Berkshire Trails

Shopping list, take what you need and leave the rest

Here is a list of spiritual practices I have or currently use. Take one, experiment and for five minutes a day, add it to your daily routine. If it sticks, maybe glance over the list again. Remeber, it takes 28 days to change a habit, it will take time for each of these practices to become nestled into your daily routine.

  • First thing in the morning, slide out of bed onto your knees and ask whatever it is out there, for help.
  • Stop throughout the day, maybe just once to start, and pay attention to your breathing. You can have a mantra, I breathe in God and breathe out Fear. Or try some yogic breathing, maybe alternate nostril breathing.
  • Begin to take care of your body. Add just one extra vegetable serving to your meals.
  • Go vegetarian.
  • Go vegan.
  • Practice yoga. Start with a sun salutation. Maybe take a class for inspiration.
  • Stop to take pictures.
  • Listen when others speak.
  • Play with an animal (tame of course).
  • Take time to notice the beautiful sunsets, or sunrises.
  • Exercise
  • Write a poem
  • Go on a retreat to kick start your motivation.
  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Say thank you
  • Write a gratitude list every day.
  • Smile
  • Eat kale, it might not make you spiritual, but it might make you kick butt healthy.

Notice your surroundings, you never know who is there...

Scratching on Cape Cod, MA
Scratching on Cape Cod, MA

Stop and take a picture, you never know what you will see.

Sheffield, MA
Sheffield, MA

Do Not Be Afraid...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Marianne Williamson

Gentle Tibetan Bowl music

Breathe in Beauty

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      Laura Gross Smith 2 years ago from Sheffield, Ma

      Thank you both for the wonderful comments. I think writing a gratitude list is the most important part of my spiritual practice. It shifts a negative attitude every time I write down exactly how good I have it. It is my thank you prayer.

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      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I totally agree people need to establish a spiritual practice daily. It is building a foundation upon which to live a life of peace and contentment. I have a set time to read scripture, meditate and pray in order to bring balance to my life and live within God's plan for my life. My hubby and I eat organic, natural foods and go vegetarian one or two days per week. It is a good way to support the immune system and ensure a healthy body. You have some really good thoughts on this topic.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Welcome to HubPages, Laura. What a great start! I was raised in a very conservative Christian household, but I have left the fold as they say. Your article is very open and it communicates a spirit of kindness and compassion. I am touched by it. While I am not a spiritual person I do appreciate balance. I practice daily exercise, alone time, yoga, healthy eating (whole, simple foods, mostly plants), daily gratitude list (with a humor section added), I take pictures, I love to listen to people (they are fascinating), I smile while saying thank you and eating kale, and I play with animals (not always tame). Life is awesome! So glad to be sharing the journey with you. All my best! (headed to your blog next)