As the year winds down, thoughts naturally turn to the coming New Year and resolutions for self-improvement.
Often these resolutions aim towards our physical forms; we vow to never eat junk food again or to go to the gym every single day.
How about this year we give some thought to our spiritual selves?
A more spiritual lifestyle has been shown to have a multitude of benefits both psychologically and physically.
Those who consider themselves to be spiritual tend to live longer, have less anxiety and depression, have lower blood pressure and more well developed immune systems.
A more spiritual lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean organised religion and it doesn’t have to be a difficult or expensive process.
In fact, some of the following ideas cost exactly no money and take only a few minutes a day.
Read this article for 6 ideas on how to be more spiritual in the New Year.
Simply put, meditation is the intentional quieting of the mind.
There are many different kinds of meditation and it may take some experimenting to find the one that suits you best, but the reported benefits of meditation are so numerous that it’s worth putting in the time and effort to find one that works for you.
A regular meditation practice can help you to be more self aware and calm and can offer clarity.
It can also help you to relax, lower your blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.
If you need resources on how to meditate try searching for videos on YouTube as well as the plethora of books, DVDs, and CD’s available on Amazon.
These sources are especially helpful if you are interested in guided meditation.
Choose a Mantra
A personal mantra that you choose to be your focus is a good way to remain mindful and inspire the positive changes you want in your life.
Your mantra should be personal to you and have a positive impact on the way you behave.
For example, if you find yourself being controlled by your ego or thinking negative thoughts, that are a manifestation of your imagination, you may find the mantra “detach” useful.
This is a mantra that Jocko Willink introduces in his book Extreme Ownership. It will help you to take a step back, get out of your own head and see things as they truly are; no better and, more importantly, no worse!
Your mantra(s) can fit into your life in many ways.
You might set aside time every morning to repeat it/them out loud or silently to yourself, or you might write your mantra(s) down a certain number of times in a notebook or journal.
You could also include mantras in a regular meditation or yoga practice or during common daily events. This will help you to keep your focus and remain mindful.
Try Tarot Cards
You don’t need to believe in supernatural divinity to benefit from using Tarot cards.
You can use them to simply focus more on your life and live in the present.
Pick a single card daily or weekly, interpret the meaning of the card and pay attention to situations that remind you of your card.
You can even create your own cards that include words such as bravery, leadership, passion, love, honesty, integrity; or include statements such as “what would my role-model do?” “Leave a legacy,” “give something,” etc.
Like a mantra, such cards will help you to focus on specific moments in your life and actually think about your behaviour and the behaviour of others around you.
They will develop your perceptiveness and facilitate a presence of mind that is often difficult without a physical prompt.
Once you have used them enough, you will find that present thinking becomes natural.
Using cards is a way of training yourself to live in the moment.
Making an effort to be grateful can help to combat the petty stresses of everyday life.
One simple way to be consciously more grateful is to set aside a few minutes before bed each night to write down a few things about your day that you are thankful for.
These can be big things like your continued good health or having a job that you love, or they can be simple things like a really good cup of coffee or light traffic on your evening commute.
This is your personal gratitude journal, for your eyes only, so be honest and write down the things that make you happy or your life a little easier.
Periodically looking back through your journal can be a source of comfort during hard times, when the good things in life often get pushed to the back of our minds.
Seeing a list of the good things, written in your own hand can bring those memories back and give you hope for the future.
Sleep More and Pay Attention to your Dreams
More and more studies are concluding that getting enough sleep is imperative for a healthy lifestyle.
Physical health, muscle growth, emotional well-being and brain functionality are just a few of the major benefits for getting those Z’s in.
Sleeping is also a way of tapping into your subconscious via your dreams – pay attention to them!
You don’t have to do deep research into the symbolism of dreams to understand what your subconscious mind is focusing on. It often tells you!
Keep a dream journal by your bed and make notes of the things you remember when you wake up.
Revisit these notes to find patterns and understand what’s going on in your head!
Make links with your waking life. You might just realise that certain things are affecting your psyche more than you would expect.
Recurring dreams or recurring elements across dreams might signal an aspect of your life that needs attention.
Once you know what areas of your life are impacting your mental state, then you can look for ways to improve those areas.
Noting down ideas in your dream journal can also help you to improve your creativity.
Sometimes wonderful thoughts come to you in your sleep and writing them down quickly is the best way to remember them.
Connect with Nature
Getting outside and enjoying nature is one of the easiest ways to foster your spirituality.
Connecting to the Earth can be a profoundly sacred experience if you approach it with intention and mindfulness.
Modern life, with its harsh lights and constant noise, can cause a sense of disconnect from all things natural, such as the turning of the seasons and the cycle of life.
Pay attention to the sounds of insects or animals scurrying around; take note of what plants are blooming or what colors the leaves are turning.
Whether you are hiking in the woods, strolling through the park, or simply star gazing, the benefits of getting outdoors are plentiful.
Liveyournature.com provides a good list of research reports that outline the benefits of nature including: improving your mood, lowering stress levels and blood pressure, and developing concentration.