Tuesday, January 11, 2011

17 Spiritual Principles and Practices That Can Change Your Life

I mentioned in my last post that service was one of my spiritual principles, so I thought I should relate a list of all of my spiritual principles.

1. Be my natural self. I have struggled with this because it is tempting to look and be superficial (i.e. plastic surgery, excessive cosmetics, expensive hair, personality changes to fit others expectations) but deep in my heart I believe that it is best to be natural. I don't mean completely natural- like a wild woman out in the forest. I still believe in wearing some make-up, using natural hair dye (like henna), keeping myself clean, etc., Most importantly, I believe in not trying too hard or pretending to be someone I'm not.

2. Have a bright, natural, small home. This includes using natural products to clean with and making my home comfortable, clean and inviting. I think cleaning is a very spiritual practice. Cleaning with others is best. Having too big of a home uses excessive resources.  Using less resources is important (i.e. turn off lights, take quick showers, use less product, eat leftovers, conserve, reuse, recycle, etc.).

3. Spend time with family every day: talking, reading, doing a project, or homework, going out to dinner, doing an activity, watching a movie, etc. I also go out with my husband once a week. Working on relationships is a spiritual practice. Staying faithful to spouse is key.

4. Non-materialism: Not owning too many possessions. De-cluttering, not buying too much, not having too many clothes or shoes. Not shopping unless it truly fills a need.  However, my husband likes to shop and buy me, himself and our kids expensive, unnecessary items (clothes, jewelry, electronics), so for the sake of our relationship I accept gifts graciously (and I wear what he buys me). I try not to get too upset about his buying spurts.

5. Daily exercise. Yoga is more spiritual than other forms of exercise, especially if it includes prayer/meditation. Taking care of my body and treating it well is a spiritual practice.

6. Healthy media. I stay away from horror movies, or movies with excessive harsh language, violence or offensive sex. Anything that really brings me down in the form of movies, music, books, news, etc. I try to stay away from- although I can't avoid it always. I am not opposed to realism, but there needs to be a point to it. Uplifting music can be a spiritual practice and can come from any genre.

7.  Healing. I believe healing comes through prayer, slowing down, healthy environments, healthy and simple food, and healthy relationships. I try to limit meat and fast food restaurants. Massage and alternative medicine practices can also be a part of this.

8. Serving others. We serve in little ways everyday, but it takes effort to serve in larger ways. This is the way we make a difference in the world and leave a legacy. We serve our families, we serve in our work, we serve whenever we make someone smile or lift someones burden. Along with this, I believe in giving generously to charities. Serving others is important, but slowing down is just as important. I don't believe in doing things for others that they should be doing themselves, or over-indulging or catering to anyone. I will never play the martyr. If I really don't want to do something I won't.

9. Ongoing learning. I believe that we are supposed to learn throughout our lives. We can read books on many subjects, but it is important to read spiritual texts that inspire you.

10. No debt. I believe in only buying what we can afford and not going into debt for anything except a house and education. This goes along with my frugal lifestyle.

11. Positive thoughts, words and feelings. I notice that thoughts, words and feelings tend to reoccur over and over inside ourselves and outside in our immediate environment. Therefore, in a small way we control the future. By channeling our thoughts, words and feelings in a positive way they will reoccur in various forms. However, we can't control how they will occur. We need to relinquish total control..."Let go and let God".

12. Concentrating and focusing on our goals. We can accomplish our goals by being clear on what they are, being determined and motivated enough to put our whole-hearted energy towards the goal. We can make things happen through our clear focus and action. A vision board can help to focus our goals.

13. We can receive guidance through the spirit, our conscience and our intuition. Listening to our inner guide and praying to feel God's love can help us sift through the many decisions we have in our life. Feeling the energy of our spirit can heal us and others. To access this power I close my eyes and go to a place in my mind of quiet stillness- no distracting thoughts and humbly ask God for the spirit to change my heart and fill me with love and healing. Humility is key. God can be with us to comfort us no matter the circumstances we face.

14. Forgiveness. Truly forgiving ourselves and everyone and everything that is prompting us to carry around anger is a spiritual practice. The way to do this is having enough self-confidence to generate boundaries and demand to be treated respectfully. At the same time, letting go of the past. Letting go of revenge. Somebody said that forgiveness is the beautiful scent left on the shoe that just crushed the flower. 

15. Honesty. I believe in being completely honest in most circumstances. Each circumstance needs to be evaluated individually. For example, how much you disclose about yourself to others may or may not be dishonest. We don't need to tell everyone about everything, neither do we need to let everyone know about all of our opinions and thoughts, but sometimes keeping things from others isn't right. You have to feel it out.

16. Love everyone. This involves being open-minded to the fact that I might be wrong. Being non-judgemental. Loving myself- realizing that I'm not perfect and its O.K. Apologizing (to people and to God)when we feel we were wrong and asking what we can do to make it right really helps.

17. Gratitude. Someone said that if all of your prayers are only prayers of gratitude it is enough. We shouldn't take anything for granted and should always take notice and express gratitude.  Praying before meals is a good way to integrate this into our lives. Spiritual guru Wayne Dyer said, "Abundance is not something we acquire, but something we tune into".

By incorporating these spiritual principles into our lives we can learn to walk in the spirit and live a spiritual life.

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