50 Things to Know About Practicing Spiritual Discipline: Ideas to Strengthen Your Soul

DisciplineThe soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.

This business of souls is a funny thing. If you’ve ever been struck silent by the stars on a clear night or have marveled at the sounds of a newborn, you might have considered the idea that there really must be something more. Often, just as quickly as that thought bubbles up, it bursts, popped by “reality” – what’s next on the calendar, will there be construction on the parkway, just how far past empty will the car go before being in the real trouble. Grumbling stomachs can easily wave away the odd thought about eternity or purpose.

With so many distractions, few of us have the time to think about how to explore the possibility of how we fit into the universe and does it even matter anyway. Correction: Few of us make the time, and, yes, it does matter. How we see ourselves in the bigger picture influences our actions. When we intentionally explore these bigger questions, we move from simply living our lives to leading our lives.

The truth is we can meaningful connect with “soul” without taking vows of poverty or secluding ourselves in the desert. Just as many of us understand the importance of pursuing healthy nutrition or regular exercise, the care and feeding of our spiritual lives is also essential, requiring similar attention and intention. You don’t have to be a dessert father or a yogi. You simply have to acknowledge the possibility there is something more and set aside the time to open those doors to the universe.

1.  Acknowledge You Have a Soul

Even if you have never seen your own heart, you have likely never disputed its existence. You can feel it pump blood through your body, speeding up and slowing down as required. You can be just as assured of the existence of your soul when you feel it respond to matters of justice, beauty and relationships. Your spirit does not not exist simply by virtue of denying or ignoring it. May as well go ahead and embrace it.

2.  Understand the Point of Discipline

Without a purpose, discipline is drudgery. Worse yet, it becomes a stumbling block. Spiritual discipline is the idea of employing various techniques to encourage spiritual growth. Use this book to sample a few suggestions. DO NOT trick yourself into thinking you have to follow any suggestion religiously. By making it another chore or box on the to-do list, frustration can reinforce the world’s suggestion that spirit doesn’t matter — or worse yet — isn’t real. Take it easy on yourself when you feel dispirited or challenged.

3.  Give Up? Never!

The small print at the bottom of many diet ads applies here: Actual results may vary from individual. Just as no one hits puberty at the same time, no one grows spiritually in the same way at the same rate. If you feel discouraged by seeing progress in others and are tempted to give up, stop. Forget comparing yourself to others or pre-set ideals. You are on your own journey. Wherever you end up going — or whatever path you take to get there — just don’t stop moving forward. Be tenacious in your own growth.

4.  Embrace Your Inner Boy Scout … and Magellan

Regularly practicing spiritual disciplines prepares us for life’s inevitable challenges. By investing time and energy in the health of your spiritual life, you will be able to meet obstacles head on without losing yours. Additionally, you will find yourself anticipating fresh insight, energy and strength in uncharted places. You’ll no longer be a by-stander to life; you’ll be an explorer.

5. Take That First Step

Fasting from technology, praying or intentionally embracing joy are examples of what you’ll find here. It doesn’t matter which appeals to you or what you decide to pursue. The idea is to read through the following list, choose one that makes sense to you in this moment and then, do it. The goal is not to become a yogi or canonized saint. The goal is to be the best you, so just get started.

6. Live Those Action Verbs

Love, joy, forgiveness, atonement are frequently miscast as nouns only. Pick a day and pick a concept such as love or joy and intentionally reflect the idea in all of your activities and actions. For example, if you are focusing on thanksgiving, articulate your gratitude in all circumstances: getting out of bed, eating your meals, meeting an acquaintance.

7. Inhale Peace, Exhale Love

Or … inhale rest, exhale energy. Identify the attributes you would like reflected in your own life and match them to your own respiration. For a few minutes several times throughout the day, as you breathe in, intentionally focus on drawing a positive idea deep into your body. Likewise, exhale a companion thought. Traditionally known as breath prayers, these serve to remind yourself of your priorities and can become the lens through which you view your world.

8. Set Your Clock

At fixed points during your day, set aside some time to pray or concentrate on your needs and joys in that moment. As little as 60 seconds is fine. The idea is not to devote large chunks of time to reflection. Rather, by frequently pausing during the day, you’re allowing yourself to acknowledge aspects of yourself beyond the immediate or physical.

9. Re-Set Your Day

Make a routine, daily appointment with yourself. For however much time you choose to spend, reflect on the following: What went well? What went wrong? How much of my day was lived with intention? How much of my day was given to others? Note what you can celebrate and replicate and identify what you’d like to refine and re-do.

10. Play With Your Words

Many people enjoy collecting Scripture or positive quotes. Find a short one you love and read it slowly, placing emphasis on one word at a time. See how the familiar can speak to you in fresh ways.
I am captain of my own soul.”
I am captain of my own soul.”
“I am captain of my own soul.”

 

To read all 50 Tips please view the book on Amazon that is available for free with Amazon Prime. In the book you will find all 50 Things to Know and other resources.

Discipline

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