How To Be Spiritual In A Material World
7 Simple Practices to Enhance Your Spiritual Life
1. Be Present, Be Mindful
2. Work With Your Energy, Mind/Body
3. Stimulate Your Pineal Gland
4. Practice Daily Meditation
5. Become More In Tune With Nature
6. Learn To Lucid Dream & Astral Project
7. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
Greeting Spiritual Seekers! This article is not meant to be an all encompassing guide for you to structure your spiritual life around. Rather, it is a resource you can use to quickly implement some of the foundational ideas that will help foster a well-rounded spiritual life. This guide is brief to prevent over complication and to focus your attention to the simple ideas you can implement into your life. You may not be able to master all 7 techniques discussed, but you should be able to digest and implement at least a couple of the ideas.
Be Present, Be Mindful
It’s important to have goals and ambitions. In fact, success in life requires them, but life isn’t only about getting to the next checkpoint. The demands of our daily schedules leave us preoccupied with future deadlines, situations, goals and fears. We worry about getting to work on time, getting the promotion, getting new business, making ends meet, and any one of a potential litany of vexations . Life can be hectic and complicated but if we can learn how to take time and slow it down we will be able to enjoy a much less stressful and more pleasurable journey. And you don’t have to bend the laws of physics to do it.
When you stop multi-tasking and purposely focus your normally scattered attention on only the present moment and focus on it, without judgment, you are being “mindful”. A key element of happiness is mindfulness because it supports many attitudes that contribute to a happier life. When you are mindful, you can savor the pleasures of life’s experiences as they unfold which helps you become more engaged in activities and create a greater capacity to deal with stressful situations.
People who are mindful find that they are less likely to get worried about the future or regret the past. They are less preoccupied with concerns about self- esteem or being successful and are better at forming deep connections with others. Mindful people can still have goals and prepare for the future, but they can also absorb the very moment that they are living in day to day.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but the goal of the following mindfulness techniques are to achieve a state of awareness and focused relaxation by intentionally focusing on thoughts and sensations without judgment. This means to be a witness to your thoughts, emotions and sensations without interacting with them, without labeling them as good or bad, as helpful or destructive, without placing them into any categories. It means to observe and acknowledge, but not attach any emotion to what you see. This non-judgemental observation will train the mind to focus on the present moment in full without emotional distraction. As your mindfulness techniques evolve, they will actually become a form of meditation for you.
One exercise you can use is to sit quietly for 3 minutes and focus only on your breathing or silently repeat a mantra. As you do this, allow your thoughts to come and go while repeating your mantra of choice.
You can also focus on your body awareness by noticing subtle body sensations such as tingling, itching, heat, heartbeat, stomach movement, etc, while observing all the parts of your body in succession from top to bottom.
While becoming aware of the sensory input coming from your surroundings, silently in your mind name the sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and touches you come across as you encounter them. Focusing on your senses for even 60 seconds brings you completely and fully into the Now. You can also do this with your emotions, naming them as they come and go; joy, frustration, anger, sorrow. Accept that these emotions are present, observe and acknowledge them without judgement and let them pass through. When you come across an addictive urge, or negative emotion, pay attention and be mindful of it, then let it go. Observe the way your body feels as the craving enters and disappears. You can make it go away faster by replacing the craving with the thought of it going away. Having trust and faith that the craving or negative emotion will pass, will help facilitate its actual passing.
Below is a great video by Alan Watts that eloquently sums up what it means to be present.
Work With Your Energy – Mind/Body
Another aspect of spiritual practice is to appreciate and enjoy not only being mentally present, but physically and energetically present. It helps tremendously if we allow ourselves to really feel the joy of being fully physically present, which is vital to a strong spiritual practice.
Many holistic activities can help you become more in tune with your energy. Physical activities and subtle exercises you can do that will help you work with your energy with mind-body activities such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Acupressure, Reiki, Shiatsu or Reflexology, not only have preventative and healing qualities but they can facilitate a better environment for spiritual awareness. Your consciousness is temporarily housed in your body and if you treat your body well, (not just by eating healthy) via holistic practices such as those mentioned above you will have a stronger connection to the infinite.
Begin to see yoga, tai chi, qigong, or any other mind-body movement class as a vehicle to spirituality, not just a physical routine or an exercise. Incorporate movement into your own spiritual practice, even if it means doing a walking meditation every day along your favorite path. By setting an intention as you begin any of these types of practices, you’ll give your movement focus, changing the nature of the activity and gain a greater sense of connectedness and joy. When experiencing something such as Reiki where you are not moving and someone else is touching you, set an intention of what you want to be brought closer to and what you want to release.
Yoga for instance, unifies the mind, body, and spirit to work together. The word Yoga literally means “joined together”. A Yogi is someone who strives to unify all these life elements together to discover his/her fullest potentials, helping you to commune deeply with the infinite inside you.
Creating a practice of yoga will enable you to develop a strong energetic center, a resource to bounce back when you feel exhausted by life. It will give you a tool to help concentrate your energy toward your center, your foundation for living.
“You’re the Center and Your Always Free, In Every Direction” – Junip
Steady practice of a mind-body activity will allow you to master your inner alchemy. One can anticipate a feeling of deep centering of the soul and uninterrupted flowing of energy/prana. These are enlightening experiences that get better with practice and instill a blissful sense of peace.
Qigong and Tai Chi are useful on the spiritual level because the ultimate aim of Taoism is alchemical transformation of the mind, body, and spirit unifying the soul with the Tao. The energy of your thoughts and emotions are better understood when you are able to better feel the energy of your body, which leads to a more thorough understanding of your spirit energy.
The mind and body are laboratories of individual consciousness, which through QiGong and Tai Chi is continually refined to achieve ultimate health. In Taoist tradition, a healthy body and longevity is regarded as the foundation for spiritual realization. The longer one lives in health and wellbeing, the greater the potential for spiritual realization in their lifetime. Taoist view the body as an un-ignorable part of ourselves that we must refine and bring into the collective mind, body and spirit.
Whether it’s Tai Chi, Qigong, Meditation, Reiki, Reflexology, Martial Arts, Yoga or some other form of mind-body practice, you can really connect with yourself when you participate in these practices. They can make us feel more calm, invigorated and clear headed with a sense of renewal. These ageless mind body traditions help us on multiple levels.
Stimulate Your Pineal Gland
Many spiritual teachers like to refer to the pineal gland as the third eye, inner eye, all-seeing eye, spiritual eye, or mind’s eye. They often encourage us to strengthen the functions of our pineal gland, because this gland allows us to access healing energies that contain high frequency.
In spirituality it is believed that when the third eye is activated and functioning properly, it allows us to encounter more ethereal experiences, sensing what is beyond the physical realm.
The next time you go to bed, focus your awareness towards your third eye right before you start dozing off. Concentrated attention on it will stimulate it, helping it to “open”. By concentrating on this area as you fall asleep, you are stimulating the gland as your brain enters stage 1 non-rapid eye movement sleep, which is the in between stage of wakefulness and sleep. This is an important time because it is when our brains are operating in Alpha and Theta waves, the most powerful state for manifestation. Those who practice meditation, or deep prayerfulness, often “hang out” in Alpha. It’s a deeply restful place full of contentment as well as being the fertile garden bed where you plant seeds of change.
Another good time to activate your third eye is right after you wake up. Instead of getting out of bed, lie still and focus your awareness towards the center of your brain, the house of your third eye ,with the intention of opening it. Sound and light are both powerful activators of the pineal. Try making the sound ‘nnnnnnn’ while covering your ears. Move into the sound ‘mmmmmm’. Alternate back and forth between these two which will put a light, vibratory wave through your pineal, activating it.
You can also try a meditation visualizing a beam of light. Visualize sending beams of light to the following locations in order: forhead, back of the head, left temple, right temple, strait up through the top and the strait down your spine. Remember to breathe. The “ocean breath” is a wonderful tool of relaxation and can increase your levels of meditation immensely.
Ocean breath, or Ujjayi Pranayama, gives any practice extra power and focus.
1. Inhale and exhale deeply through the mouth.
2. On the exhales, begin to tighten the back of the throat, slightly constricting the passage of air. Emit a Haah sound as if you are fogging up a pair of glasses.
3. Once you are comfortable with the exhale, begin to apply the same toning of the throat to the inhales. This is where the name of the breath comes from: it sounds like the ocean.
4. When you are able to control the throat on both the inhale and the exhale, close the mouth and begin breathing through the nose. Continue applying the same toning to the throat that you did when the mouth was open. The breath will still make a loud noise coming in and out of the nose. This is Ujjayi breath.
The more you practice using your pineal gland to experience beyond the material world, the stronger it will become.
It is also important to physically take care of your pineal gland by watching the food you eat. Below is a list of 6 additional things you can do to help open and decalcify your third eye.
1. Balance Your PH Levels. Eat more green leafy vegetables, and start juicing to bring your body toward a proper pH balance. Other good superfoods include chlorella, spirulina, sea moss, and wheatgrass. An Acidic body chemistry is not healthy for the pineal gland. Heavy meat intake can create an acidic environment for you body. You don’t have to stop eating meat, especially if you are on the Paleo diet, but make an effort to add a lot more vegetables to your diet to balance the acidity of the meat.
2. Drink alkaline or distilled water. Alkaline water helps balance the body’s pH,which is usually acidic because of our high acid food diet, stress and exposure to environmental toxins.
Distilled water removes heavy toxins and metals out of the human body which can effect the function of the pineal gland.
3. Avoid fluoride & Chlorine. Fluoride is toxic to the human system and one of the main contributors to pineal gland calcification. You should be using non-fluoride toothpaste. Avoid swimming in pools that use chlorine.
4. Practice Sun Gazing. The pineal gland is crystal like and reacts very well to the sun. The safest time to look at the sun is when it is rising or setting. The amount of natural sunlight that enters your eyes and pineal gland is tremendously beneficial for the pineal gland and it’s decalcification. You can do this daily for 2-5 minutes. If you can wake up early enough try doing it in the morning and evening to get the full benefit from it.
5. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts. Try to keep a positive outlook on life and yourself. Your thoughts are powerful and having a strong mental attitude and belief in yourself and your locust of control will help you develop your pineal gland. Your thoughts are powerful!
6. Use herbs. Herbs like mugwort, wood betony, worm wood tea, and gotu kola have very good healing properties for the pineal gland. Worm wood, in particular, is one that is good at inducing lucid and vivid dreams.
Practice Daily Meditation
The goal of any meditation technique is to bring us closer to the infinite where we can listen to and align ourselves with it’s vibration. Our consciousness can be raised above the physical senses into the higher states of awareness. Meditation is about simply being, not seeking any desire, purifying the body through the emptying process. Once we remove our desires and basic lower animal drives, we can then begin to fill ourselves with the infinite.
Meditation is a process that involves the ability to get beyond our thoughts. When you meditate you are doing 2 things, observing the mind’s distractions which are thoughts, worries, feelings and you are also focusing your attention on the practice of meditation and being thoughtless. Don’t let the process become a struggle. When coming across a thought, gently redirect your focus. When our minds do not cooperate with this process, don’t condemn yourself or feel frustrated, just give yourself some time to get used to refocusing the mind.
An ideal form of this process is the repeated gentle and persistent returning of the attention to the act of contemplation. Some practitioners urge that you focus on nothing, or emptiness. Others urge that you should focus on breathing, light, mantras, or your heart beat. Do which ever works for you. Many who have a problem with focus and restlessness find that when focusing on one particular thing like their breathing, or heartbeat, they get better results.
Try meditating for at least 5 minutes a day, preferably in the morning or before you sleep. Start small and work your way up by increasing the duration daily. It is easier to practice for a short time every day than to try to practice for long periods of time with less frequency.
The demands of worklife and moving up the ladder of success create duality of personality. The person you are at home with your family or with friends is not who you are at work. Through meditation we can balance ourselves and bring more clarity and peace of mind into our busy worklife. Your authentic self is the person you will now take to work with a more calm and in control approach to handling challenges.
The simplest and easiest form of meditation is simply focusing on the breath.
“It’s a gentle thing, the breath: it fills you, then leaves softly, all without you noticing.” When you meditate, your breathe is the only thing you should notice. If your mind wanders, and it most always will, just pay deeper attention to the breath. Feel your chest rise and fall, your shoulders, if they move. Feel the chair under you, the position of your legs. As you notice these things, you are completely in the Now again. And right Now, everything is *always* okay. If anxiety or tension return, know that they are temporary, as all thoughts and emotions are. Acknowledge them, don’t judge them, and let them pass.. like waves flowing over you in the ocean. As you return to breath.. tensions melt.
Feel the gratitude as the moments between the waves teach us most.
This great little 90 second video is one that you can breathe along with and obtain powerful benefits from:
Become More In Tune With Nature
Most of us live in cities and although convenient and accessible, the stress and busy elements of the city can be draining. You don’t have to move to a rural location but take time to surround yourself with nature from time to time. Take time to hike, walk in nature, take your shoes off and feel the grass under your bare feet, meditate in the woods, be present in whatever form of wilderness you have access.
Our current culture has lost the sense of connection to nature. Before technology separated us from the wilderness we were a part of the heartbeat of the earth and in tune with our natural environment. Technology, an amazing gift – yet still a curse – has cut the umbilical cord that connected us to mother earth.
There are practical and fundamental skills that appeal to all of us when we learn to connect with nature once again. These range from studying natural medicine, natural navigation, foraging, tracking, creating art, building and much more. We can learn to see the natural world properly through these skill sets. The satisfaction that these engagements bring lead to greater appreciation for time and the power of our senses. Connecting with nature can be life changing and will make you view your previous life as one-dimensional.
For most of us living in urban settings, a deep understanding of nature is no longer as vital to our physical survival as it once was, but what it is most definitely vital to, is our spiritual survival. The side effect is a loss of our connection to the rhythm to the earth. Understanding the cycles of nature, our relationship to it, and conflicts the lack of our connection are causing will enable us to gain a better appreciation of the world and perhaps, even give us a chance to save it, and ourselves.
Being present in nature cultivates both a sense of mystery of and sense of gratitude for the natural world. It brings about a feeling of awe. When a strong vibratory harmony is found between man and earth, a profound experience of transcendence happens. People who regularly engage in nature activates not only appreciate natures beauty but become deeply aware of a power greater than themselves. Inner peace is fostered by placing yourself in nature’s presence and it is both a humbling and healing experience that will teach you innumerable life lessons.
Some recommended books to help you along the path of forging a relationship with nature are:
Nature as Teacher & Healer by James Swan
Wild Communion by Ruth Baetz
How to connect with Nature by Tristan Gooley
The Wild Within by Paul Rezendes.
You can try the following exercises next time you visit a place of nature. Doing something as simple as standing still and breathing deeply, meditating, or loosely moving your body with warm up exercises can help you connect with your body while in a natural environment. Further explore with your senses the smell, sounds, feeling and taste (where appropriate) of nature. Don’t worry if you live in the city. A park will work, a garden. Anywhere you can have even a small space to experience the life of planet Earth with your senses. Find a special place in that resonates with you and spend more time there. Take a notepad and pen and write down how you feel, document it with pictures (I know that’s a form of technology but we can make an exception in this case).
Learn How To Astral Project
“As long as there is breath in my body..
I will never ever cease to be a seeker after truth.”
Have you ever been dreaming and then suddenly you became aware that you were, in fact, dreaming? When the dreamer is consciously aware that they are dreaming, this is called Lucid Dreaming.
“Lucid dreaming is a state of consciousness where the dreamers are fully aware that they are asleep, and that what they are experiencing is a state of reality completely manufactured by the dreaming mind. At its best, lucid dreaming is a completely conscious state of mind where the doors to the conscious and unconscious minds are fully open to each other — available for exploration, examination and to be fearlessly embraced.”
As you hone your practice of being in the present moment and noticing your surroundings as we’ve been talking about this entire article, your ability to ward of sidetracking thoughts becomes stronger and stronger. The number one concept that spiritual teachers from wisdom traditions from every part of the world and from every time period all talk about is the importance of truly BEing in the present moment, with no worry about the past and no anxiety about a hypothetical future. This is the very foundation of lucid dreaming. Being aware of the present moment with more than just the physical body, more than with the conscious mind.. but with the higher self as well. Mind, Body and Soul.
There are many spiritual benefits to lucid dreaming. It is another direct path to becoming more enlightened, it enhances creativity, helps you acheive greater self- confidence and awareness, garners a stronger sense of self-control, it improves memory, creates higher energy levels, you’ll be better able to face your fears, have fewer nightmares, obtain more restful sleep and even solve some of your life’s challenges.
Lucid dreaming shows us that the world we know is still only a construct of our minds. When we are able to grasp this concept we realize that there are many fewer obsticles in our way. It is one of the greatest stepping stones into transcendence and spiritual ascension.
“Lucid dreaming is a skill that anyone can develop with motivation and effort. The enjoyment and benefits are well worth it. What could you do with the third of your life that is spent sleeping? How could you use it to benefit the other two-thirds? Through lucidity the line between the dream world and the waking world begins to blur, providing unique opportunities to interact consciously with your subconscious mind.”
Here are some tips on simple ways to enter the world of lucid dreaming.
- Try to remember all your dreams by playing them back in your mind as soon as you reach the first moments of consciousness.
- Keep a dream journal. Write down as many details about your dreams as you can remember. Even if it’s just key words, places, colors, sounds, smells or feelings you can recall.
- When dreaming, attempt to ask yourself, “am I dreaming” so you can begin to break through the barrier of the awake/asleep mind.
- Attempt to return to your dreams if you wake up in the night. Consciously try to stay in that state without coming completely back to waking reality.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more regular you are in your practice, the better you’ll become and the longer the effects will last.
“Lucid dreaming has considerable potential for promoting personal growth and self-development, enhancing self-confidence, improving mental and physical health, facilitating creative problem solving and helping you to progress on the path to self-mastery.” ~Stephen LaBerge
Mastering the art of lucid dreaming comes with a great side effect, opening the gateway into astral projection. You learn how to wake your mind up while keeping your body asleep, which is a skill you need for conscious astral projection. In order to separate out your consciousness from its shell (your body) you need to learn how to move your consciousness out of your body.
Astral projection tends to be an advanced concept for most people and requires a lot of practice, although there are some people who seem to have been born with the gift and have always been able to project with ease. Learning how to astral project will leave you with a greater awareness of reality. It provides a unique experience of our ability to exist outside of our physical body. Realization that we are more than physical beings opens new levels of personal development. Once we consciously access and explore our nonphysical self, we can unlock deeper knowledge of our subconscious mind and harness our ability to explore reality much more deeply. Your conscious potential is dramatically expanded beyond all current concepts and comprehension.
Fear of death is noticeably reduced when we experience ourselves consciously separated from our physical bodies. Once you separate from your body, you will be assured that you still exist, therefore eliminating the fear of the unknown, the fear of death.
You will begin to look at yourself as a soul temporarily possessing a physical body. Unproductive habits will be easier to break free from once your perspective of yourself and your limited time in this physical dimension shifts. Experiencing yourself outside of your physical body can provide you with a more enlightened perspective of your own existence and meaning of your life. New levels of personal growth are fostered by the expansive vision of yourself.
We as humans have always had questions about our existence. What is our purpose? Is there life after death? What are we? What exactly is reality? Deeper insight to these questions can be sought out through our astral projection experiences.
There is a certain excitement that reaches deep into every core of your being when you have an out of body experience. Deep down we realize that we have become the ultimate explorers and life itself becomes a more vivid journey.
There are a plethora of resources for those who wish to explore more deeply. “Journeys Out of the Body” by Robert Monroe and “Astral Travel for Beginners: Transcend Time and Space with Out-of-Body Experiences” by Richard Webster are just a couple of examples.
Surround Yourself With Others
On The Same Path and Vibration As You
“Lately I’ve been feeling isolated. I have a very spiritual way of thinking. I’m in the process of awakening myself, however, I’m being distracted by the people around me and my current living situation. I’m in need of people who are also spiritual and who’s thoughts are similar to mine. I want to be around people physically like that. I want a friend who I can spend my time with, share spiritual thoughts with each other, meditate with. Just someone who shares the same ideas as I do. I need a spiritual friend.”
Have you ever felt like your consciousness level is higher than the company you keep? Have you ever felt somewhat alone as a result of this? People have many different views and opinions but being spiritually alone in this world can often feel like you are the only one who cares about the deeper meaning and mysteries of life while everyone else around you is absorbed in the superficial.
When you find other people in your life who are on the same path as you, it feels like a breath of fresh air. The world feels more real to you and you don’t feel so alone anymore. It is also an amazing opportunity to grow as an exchange of wisdom and understanding will take place the more you interact with people who are on your path.
It doesn’t mean you got to cut everyone who is not like you off, but you are who you surround yourself with, and the more you associate with people who can accelerate your journey, the more you can develop as a person.
Life is an exchange of information and feedback. Our environment is constantly giving us feedback and shaping us into who we are becoming. Putting yourself in an environment where you are connected with people who seek the same things as you will continue to shape and define who you are spiritually. Like-minded people support and inspire you to push yourself beyond your previously-known limits. I don’t advocate living in a bubble and only associating with people who are exactly like you. I do however, strongly support nurturing friendships with people of similar interests to advance your involvements and understanding of those interests. So much of what I have learned on my journey was through other people. Coming across information and experiences that they shared with me.
“Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”
You are more likely to become like the people you associate yourself with. If you want to expand your consciousness, it is important that you let the right people into your life who are on a similar journey as you. You and your friends will benefit and learn from each other, pulling you higher up the ladder towards spiritual ascension.
Keeping an awareness of these practices can help you move into resonance with the infinite. There spiritual path is much more complex and never ending but these 7 practices should be enough to move you into a deeper space within and expand your conscious potential. Consistently applying these practices into your daily life will bring growth in your personal development. We hope you found value in this.
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About the Authors:
Ascension Lifestyle Staff Writer Genevieve Elena