Spiritual cultivation is our responsibility and gift as human beings. At it’s core it means that we live properly, in harmony with nature and with principles that support life.The definition of spirituality is growing as we now have access to such a vast range of information and ideas in our inter-connected world. In simple terms, a spiritual experience may be defined as a revelation, insight, meaningful hallucination or vision that brings about feelings of certainty of the existence of non-physical realms, often resulting in great peace and lasting emotional comfort. For some it comes in a surprising flash or a near-death experience, however, for most, spirituality bears its fruits when this aspect of our humanity is carefully cultivated, integrating spiritual living into our daily lives.Whatever the religion, dogma, inclination, tradition or methodology, spiritual experience is to be earned by all who seek it and work intentionally to achieve a deeper connection with this mysterious universe. These seven fundamental habits of effective spiritual cultivation can be employed to the benefit of the seeker of any spiritual truth. Please enjoy them, and share with friends and family.
1. Make Time for Spiritual Cultivation.
The great Taoist spiritual leader, Master Hua-Ching Ni, was once asked at a conference what he thought was the most fundamental spiritual practice of them all. His simple and surprising reply? ‘Go to bed early, wake up early.For many spiritual traditions rising early to summon the purifying and energizing energies of the pre-dawn hours is ingrained in daily life. In Chinese medicine as well, the hours of the early morning hold special significance for purification of the body and spirit. The body is refreshed and empty, the mind is alert, yet relaxed. This is the most silent, peaceful, meditative and enlightening time of the day.
2. Respecting Food.
Turning inward to nurture the spirit requires one to pay attention to the many things that influence the mind and body, of which food is perhaps at the top of the list.Spiritual eating habits and practices are wide and varied, but demonstrating respect for food, first and foremost, strengthens one’s relationship to spirit. Fasting and strict dieting at certain times of the year are common to nearly all ritualistic traditions, and in this way, food aids in the creation of spiritual experience.The physical components of the human body that make up the spiritual anatomy are also prone to contamination, toxification, entropy and so forth. Proper diet can assist in detoxifying the body and can be aimed at purifying specific organs and systems, like the Pineal Gland for example, to positively influence spiritual receptivity.
3. Personal Physical Practice.
The human body is a magnificent receiver and transmitter of consciousness, as well as the cellular vault of memories, emotions, and energy. Like a finely crafted machine, it functions optimally when it is in good repair, well-maintained, clean, and free of wear and tear.Regularly tending to the physical body with Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, swimming, walking, or in whatever enjoyable way possible, shows appreciation for life, body and spirit. Engaging the mind and will power in physical activity unifies the body and soul.A personal, physical practice that evolves over time is the best way to comprehend and appreciate the full meaning of personal health.
4. Practice Mindfulness.
Spiritual living is concerned with maintaining elevated consciousness in each moment of one’s life, so that one is never carried away by emotion or desire, and is always able to feel grateful and willing to serve.Mindfulness offers an ever-unfolding process of infinitely expanding awareness, and is a learned and practiced behavior. Developing mindfulness as a habit requires intention, persistence and patience.
5. Introspection and Reflection.
Living in a chaotic and busy world, pulled in many directions with a complex social matrix of advertising, opinions, advice, propaganda, and more, the personality is compelled to rise to many occasions, and the conscious and sub-conscious mind can develop conflicting interests.Regular private introspection and reflection into one’s life creates a discourse with all versions of the self, and an opportunity for harmonization of all the fragments we divide ourselves into.In the forms of thinking, writing, journaling, drawing, and reflecting, self-introspection is one’s greatest opportunity to understand the complete self and connect the dots among all aspects of one’s life.
6. Meditation, Prayer, and Intention.
Regular prayer and meditation is the cornerstone of spiritual cultivation, and, in all of its forms, is the act of using intention to communicate with the future. When we pray, for anything and in any way, we actively employ the principles of quantum physics on our own behalf.Quantum physics asks the question of whether or not the design of the universe is influenced by human intention. The answer appears to be yes, and the spiritual person who prays is executing this cosmic intervention in practical terms. Simply suggesting a possibility to the universe infinitely increases its likelihood of coming to fruition.Focused intention in the form of prayer and meditation opens up synchronicities, meaningful chance happenings, coincidences, and other signs of connectedness to spirit. In this way, and as one develops the habit of meditation and prayer, a dialogue is opened up with the cosmos and anything becomes possible.
7. Laugh and Cry.
If spiritual cultivation has but one practical benefit, it is that it develops within us the humility to laugh and cry in order to mark the celebrate life. Laughing at the world is the ultimate way to acknowledge how finite, yet splendid life is. Crying is essential to our emotional survival.Giving oneself the freedom to not take things too seriously and to laugh at obstacles makes life an effortless and enjoyable challenge. Letting oneself cry is the best way to be reminded of just how precious our humanity is. Doing both, with regularity brings tremendous emotional balance and clarity to life.
Spiritual cultivation is the ongoing commitment to the transformation of one’s life for the better. These suggestions are a humble offering of support in your journey towards the life you deserve, and a knowing nod of respect for taking on the most meaningful challenge of your life.
About the Author
Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist esoteric arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor ofOffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. His remarkable journey of self-transformation is a testament to the power of the will and the persistence of the human spirit. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.