Growing Forward: Day 12 – Spiritual Practice

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spiritual-practices-wg-logo-004Today we are fasting. Daniel fast with only water, fruits and veggies. This is one many ways to put our spiritual principles to practice. Many of us want to bring spirituality into our lives but don’t know where to begin. Or we think we have to sit in silent meditation for an hour each day in order to be “spiritual.”
This is not true. There are a vartiety of ways to grow closer to God become more spiritual.
View the Video for some tips and then read the remainder of this blog for details:

Here are 5 easy tips to begin to decrease stress, calm your mind, deepen your spiritual connection, and increase your overall happiness and health.
1. Spend time alone. 
One of the ways we avoid suffering and pain is to fill our lives with a lot of busyness. My mom always used to say when I used to complain of my busy lifestyle, “Well, it’s better than being bored.”
But actually, spiritually speaking, it’s really good to allow ourselves to be “bored.” It’s super powerful to watch our tendency to want to create something to do, somewhere to go, someone to be with. (Please take a moment and watch this GREAT VIDEO on Being Alone With God. It was a workshop I experienced at a preachers conference led by Pastor Jerry Carter. If you can hang in beyond the first 5 minutes I promise it will bless and challenge you)
We fill our lives to avoid going deeper. In actuality, it is in those moments of stepping past the uncomfortable silence that we start to see and feel the inner essence of who we really are.
2. Develop daily rituals and spiritual study.
Sit with yourself and close your eyes. Even for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch and focus on the breath and scripture reading. Every time the mind starts to chatter with to-do lists, regrets about the past or worries about the future, just bring it back to the breath and scripture. With no judgement. You are just being without the regular daily tasks. Creating awareness of God’s presence. Soon you’ll start to notice how much you live in the antics of your mind, not the present moment. The key to peace and joy is nothing external. It is actually just being fully present.
Read scripture, pray, sing songs, look at nature. While our transformation needs to be experiential, part of our growth happens while philosophically learning from others. God’s spirit will guide you to the verses you need to read for your spiritual growth right now. Listen and trust.
3. Move your body.
Exercise changed my life. In my adolecent days, I thought exercise was a waste of time. Now with my crazy work schedule, I don’t have much time to exercise so I need to get the most “bang for my buck” and long exercise routines just didn’t cut it. I didn’t have time to sit and stretch!
Eventually, though, the scriptures were guiding me to re-engage in exercise. Only then was I truly able to apply the spiritual principles that I was learning and reading about. I remember leaving a workout, walking down the streets feeling the most peace I had experienced in my mind and body….ever.
If exercise doesn’t speak to you, then dance, take a martial art, or start a zumba styled fitness routine that you love and makes you feel good.  The idea is to release tension and increase the connection to your body and spiritual life.
4. Align with other like-minded souls. 
You are the company you keep. This can be difficult when you’re beginning on the spiritual path because your current friends, and especially family, may not understand what you’re up to. Then you may start to doubt or question the changes you are feeling. This is where the church ministries or prayer and bible study group friends become your new circle. They’ve either been there already or are going through it. Connect with them. You’ll need a mentor and tribe to guide you through the journey.
5. Step out of your comfort zone.
You may find yourself in a room full of people singing aloud, being asked touch a neighbor and say something, or go a day without dining on your favorite foods for fasting. You may find yourself perusing spiritual book stores or going to a weeknight revival service rather than out for happy hour.
You may begin to have creative desires that you never knew you had or feeling more fearless to take a travel adventure on your own. These practices may be unlike anything you’ve ever done before….Scary. Weird. Uncomfortable. It’s OK. Stay open. God does his best work here.
It is my prayer that these few simple tips guide you on your path. Whether you are just starting out, or have been feeling guided for a while, these few simple lessons are the basics that we can ALWAYS return to. They are still all a part of my daily practice and have helped me GROW FORWARD in GOD.