5 Ways for Busy Women to Boost Their Spiritual Life. (Strictly no meditation)

March 19, 2015
JEMIMA THACKRAY for The Telegraph (U.K.)
Organised religion may be on its last legs, but spirituality is all the rage.  Therapy Thought - Photo by Alamy

Courses in yoga, zen, mindfulness, reiki and meditation all have waiting lists of people who may have abandoned the idea of an all-powerful creator, but still crave transcendence. The truth is that many of us sense there’s a higher mystery about human existence – and we want connect with it.

I often hear people say they need to ‘work on’ their spirituality, or they wish they were ‘more spiritual’, but they just don’t have the hours in the day.

Indeed, the array of spiritual products on the market seems to demand an inordinate amount of time and head space. I confess I haven’t even got the focus to engage in the two-minute relaxation at the end of my yoga class.

It’s an agonizing 120 seconds spent desperately trying to still my mind; but by the end I have usually planned dinner, compiled a mental to-do list, and vowed to paint my toe nails like the infinitely more glamorous women either side of me.

The reality is that silence and stillness – the ingredients of so much modern spiritual endeavour – aren’t that easy to come by.

Nor does this approach suit everyone; some of us are thinkers and doers, and may be at our most spiritual when being proactive.

So, for when life is busy and we lack the capacity to be lifted to higher planes, (or we’re just not the meditating type), here are five simple steps to bring the beyond a bit closer – to incorporate spirituality into the here and now.

1) Do a personal MOT
Ask a friend to tell you what they really see in you

Book in an evening with a good friend and ask her to pick out one or two areas of your life where you seem to be thriving and happy. Then see if she can pinpoint areas where you seem less than the person you want to be, the parts which are not energising.

It can be a spiritually fruitful exercise to have an honest, outside perspective and to make yourself vulnerable with someone you trust. Self-awareness is key to spiritual awareness.

You can also offer to do the same for your pal; it’s well known that devoting time to help and encourage other people, no matter how briefly, is edifying for all involved.

Random acts of kindness, even just a smile for a stranger, can completely shift our perspective away from the things that loom large in our thoughts but are actually not that important.

2) Listen to old classics
Get into the groove

Every culture recognises the spiritual, transporting quality of music – it’s a sure-fire way to engage with your soul. Dig out a song that has really moved you in the past; the memories it evokes may help you to reflect on the ways you have grown as a person since that time.

And dance - even if you’re just jumping round the room.

As the dancer Gabrielle Roth said, dancing is: “to be swept away into something bigger than us” where we can “explore the fluidity of being alive… the beats that drive us ever deeper inside, that break down
walls and make us sweat our prayers.”

3) Eat
Eat something simple every day

Most cultures acknowledge the almost primordial spirituality in eating. It is such a basic human need and yet it yields so much pleasure.

Make one of your daily snacks something very simple - a hunk of bread is ideal. The experience of eating plain bread with purpose (rather than wolfing it down when you can’t wait for your starter to arrive) can be quite profound.

Noticing the small things in life - the basic processes of being human - can also help concentrate the mind on your own presence and the space you occupy on the earth.

It creates a sense of connection with the other people, in other cultures, with little or plenty - all eating their daily bread.

4) Write lists
What do I love about myself? My money jar...

Not to-do lists. You may not have the time to keep a journal or pen a poem, but a list is quick and easy. Regularly write down five things you love about your life. Gratitude is a spiritually attentive state of mind, which creates openness to new possibilities. It trains your brain to feel positive.

Try writing a list of the values that sum you up as an individual. Don’t over-analyse these – just scribble them down like a stream of consciousness. You may be surprised at what’s brought to the surface.
Putting your principles down on paper can also help you face difficult situations with integrity.

Finally, list your dreams. There is something cathartic about articulating your deepest desires. Being hopeful is a state of mind that can lead to new adventures.

5) Seek beauty
Candles lit. Now where did I put my shower gel?

Not many of us have the time to go on country walks or meander round art galleries. But we can usually find something truly beautiful in our everyday lives if we look for it. Try driving home a slightly longer way, via a view.

Light a candle – they’ve been used in spiritual practice for centuries because of their ethereal beauty. It’s about snatching moments for contemplation wherever you can, so why not have a couple of candles in the bathroom that you can light even when jumping in the shower – it may slow you down and bring a new awareness of your body and its physical presence.

Another idea, if you have little kids in your life, is to take note when they are looking at something carefully.

Observe it with them and try to see the object with a child’s eyes. This practise of viewing familiar things as if they were new can be very spiritually fertile.