Spirituality has gained much popularity these days. There are almost as many yoga studios as there are churches… nearly one on every corner in suburban America. More books on spirituality are sold every year and spiritual teachers are highly sought after. While I certainly believe studying and listening to wise teaching is an important pursuit, true spiritual development and authentic transformation might be a lot simpler than one might realize. Hours spent in meditation, prayer, doing yoga, listening to podcasts, or reading books or blogs on spirituality are time well spent; and yet, what you do during those precious moments before your feet hit the floor and you begin your day are perhaps the most crucial moments of your spiritual journey. Yes, those moments even before you open your eyes. Those moments before your mind starts hijacking your thoughts.
Now it might take a small measure of discipline because simple isn’t always easy, but these spiritual practices can go a long way toward changing the course your day. for the better, maybe even your life.
- “I AM GRATEFUL”
Let the first words you think and say be, ‘I am grateful’. Let the words ride on your breath: ’I am’ as you inhale, ‘grateful’ as you exhale. Let them rest in your mind and reside in your heart. You need not list what you’re grateful for… the details for this practice are irrelevant. Let the words sink in until the mantra, ‘I am grateful’ is begins to settle into your being. Whether you feel grateful or not as you begin this practice, is unimportant. Like iIn the words of Nike ‘Just do it’ will eventually allow you to ‘Just be it’.
- WELCOME THE SILENCE
“What? Didn’t I just spend hours being silent by sleeping?” I’m talking about a different kind of silence… a deeper Silence, with a capital S. Go inward and with a warm, gentle glance at your soul say “Welcome… I welcome you into this place where you already are.” Listen to the sounds around you – outside your window, in the next room – and let them fade as you continue to welcome in the Silence even deeper. Let your welcome be like a pebble you throw into a lake and watch as it slowly drops to the bottom. Keep the Silence and hold it tenderly. Even as you get out of bed, move with the Silence as you start your morning routine. Take time before speaking out loud. If you live alone this is a no brainer, but if you live with others this could be challenging. The biggest challenge is not the children calling or the dog needing to go out. The most difficult thing is to turn nothing on. No TV. No computer. No phone. No artificial noise. Go about your morning with a backdrop of Silence. For some, that might be easy. For others, whose brains are conditioned to being greeted by the Today Show, not so much. I’m not saying to never turn anything on. ‘Never’ is ‘never allowed’. I’m simply saying that when we ‘Welcome in the Silence’ upon waking, we are already giving our brains a break, our bodies time to ease into the day and our soul preferential treatment as it creates space for the Presence of God.
“Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by. If you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow, you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.”
Charlie Chaplin, when he wrote that song, had it right. Have you ever recognized how spiritual a smile can be? Just try it. Smile. Right now as you’re reading this. Come on. You can do it. Not that fake little curl your lips, smile. I mean a true, life is real and beautiful and I’m alive to feel it smile. Now you’re getting the idea. Smile at yourself in the mirror, at everyone you see. Smile as you notice your breath and hear your mind say ‘I am grateful’. Smiling literally gives the brain a message to be happy regardless of the circumstances. If you want to be happier today. If you want to live out your spirituality in a real way, then smile. Regardless of your circumstances, again, the details are unimportant, simply smile. Remember, you’re just waking up and you can choose the way your journey goes. “Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by. If you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow, you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.”
Intention is like developing spiritual muscle, the more you consciously use it the stronger it gets. These three simple spiritual practices take no effort or muscle, just intention. They can be done simultaneously and you can do them throughout the day. The goal is not to add one more thing to your already overflowing ‘to do’ list. The goal is to help simplify your ‘to be’ list.
Let it be!
Who is Maria?
Maria Gullo is the founder of The Deeper Connection, a ministry dedicated to bringing individuals to inner peace. She is an ordained minister and has spent the past twenty-plus years delivering the message of contemplative Christian spirituality through centering prayer, retreats, workshops, and lectures. Maria’s guided prayer and meditation tools include audio downloads and CDs, available here online as well as on the Insight Timer mobile meditation app. Learn more about Maria.
Maria offers virtual online and private one-on-one Spiritual Direction sessions to help individuals develop a deeper connection, clearer understanding and authentic relationship with God, self and others.
Maria wants to hear from you! Tell your story or where you are in your journey.