Whether you follow a prescribed religion or prefer to wander the spiritual journey more freely, practicing spirituality can provide deeper connections and more purpose to life. Both are important components to feeling fulfilled and being happy.
What is the Difference Between Spirituality and Religion?
Religion, like Buddhism or Christianity, is an organized set of beliefs shared by a community. These beliefs are practiced through assembly, prayer, rituals, and music. Spirituality is the pursuit of peace and purpose. Spirituality can be found through religion, but it is a term most often associated with the individual journey.
Making the Case for Spiritual Growth Using Science
Spiritual growth often brings happiness and along with, a positive effect on physical and emotional well-being. While matters of religion and spirituality are often too abstract for scientific study, there are a number of empirical studies that show positive associations between spiritual practices and:
Enhanced Immune System Function
Better Odds at Surviving a Heart Attack
Lower Rate of Depression
Longer, more Useful Lifespans
Lower Blood Pressure Levels
Even if the effects are the result of the placebo effect, stronger resilience and experiencing more positive emotions are good for individual well-being.
5 Steps to Developing a Spiritual Practice
Exploring spirituality is an experience. It is a journey that moves at an individual pace. It can be guided by the teachings of an organized religion or it can be a free-form exploration. Whichever path you choose, here are five ways to get started on your spiritual journey.
Set an intention. Give your journey direction and purpose by defining what you hope to accomplish through spirituality. Your intention could be contentment or peace, it could be more productivity, or it could be something entirely unique to your own needs.
Study from great leaders. Read books or blogs, listen to podcasts or sermons. With your intention in mind, seek to gain understanding.
Journal every day. Set aside 15-20 minutes to journal every single day. Journaling is a good way to process your thoughts and feelings. And, it provides a good road map to keep your spiritual journey on course.
Choose an Energy Outlet. Writing is good for the mind, but a spiritual connection is more than just the mind. It involves the entire mind, body, spirit connection. Yoga, meditation, prayer, mindfulness breathing, and dance are all common outlets.
Create habits. Spirituality is a complex journey with many new and interesting parts. Stay consistent and develop habits around practicing your spirituality. Set aside time to study, time to reflect, and time to focus on yourself.
Spirituality is an abstract concept for people who are new to the journey. Instead of getting tied up in the complexity of it, try focusing on the idea of just learning something new. Each day, focus on what you are feeling and use what you learn to guide your study.