by Emanuel Kuntzelman
When we talk of establishing a spiritual practice, it is important to understand that the word “practice” doesn’t mean converting to any religious tradition. Your spiritual practice is a daily routine you commit to that promotes positive growth and transformation in mind, body and spirit. Here I am sharing eight of my daily practices to help you find your own personal practice.
Meditating is a practice that really needs to be done every day, in some way. Meditation can be in the lotus position with a lit candle, but it can also be scrubbing the floor and having a Zen mind of concentration for the task at hand. Both methods are equally effective ways to find that connection with the Field. I fit in a meditation every moment I can. I do some formal meditation once a day, where I sit down and maybe say “Om” or use a mantra to concentrate.
More importantly, I try and incorporate meditation into many aspects of my life, specifically physical activities like running, swimming laps or walking to work. Any kind of constant physical activity lends itself to a meditative state as long as you get into the rhythm. The more you meditate, the more in the zone you are and that is where the highest quality of performance comes from, whether you are an athlete or at your desk. When you are totally focused on the here and now of what you are doing, with no extraneous thoughts, that is meditation.
Another great way to utilize a form of meditation is through the use of emotional intelligence or behavioral control. When you find yourself starting to get stressed, angered or impatient, stop, freeze the frame of the moment, take a picture and analyze your emotional actions, realizing that this isn’t the real you, but rather a distorted image that has been warped temporarily by emotions. Visualize yourself in your highest spiritual self, and then re-adjust and get on with your day in a positive way. This last process is probably the most important meditation of all because it keeps us on track and we can practice it many times a day. If you need 1 – 5 minutes of down time for a spiritual rethink, then find some excuse, go to the bathroom, take a walk, and get out of that negative emotional space and visualize yourself in a positive framework.
2.) Physical Exercise
For me, at my age in life it is a nonnegotiable need to get an hour of some sort of aerobic exercise in every day. I try to vary this so it isn’t a hard routine and doesn’t put too much strain on any particular part of my body. So I mix it up depending on the season and what is available. It can be running, swimming, weight training, yoga, ITP, walking, tennis, hiking, etc. There is an almost limitless list to choose from, but these are some of the activities I bring to my practice.
3.) Eating Right
We are what we eat. If we want to become a spiritual person, then we need to make the consumption of our energy a spiritual act as much as possible. I’m not going to make any bold statements about food omnivores, vegetarians, etc. It is an individual choice each person makes, but once you get to know your body you should eat the food that is most appropriate, and always with consciousness and care. Be aware of where your food comes from and how it was processed, as it carries the spiritual energy of its history and by eating it you absorb that energy.
4.) Creating a hobby that expresses your Spirit
In my case, one of those is flower arranging. I must admit it kind of started because it makes my wife happy, but it makes me happy too. I just love to do it; I love to take all different types of greens and flowers and combine them in different ways in Zen and the art of flower arranging. It gives me great peace and joy and creates beauty and positive energy in my home and office.
5.) Practicing continued education
Taking responsibility for my personal growth has been a commitment I’ve made since the day that I realized that formal education wasn’t my path or my answer. I realized that I would be my own self-appointed professor of life, which means reading on a daily basis and being on the outlook for the latest, greatest, cool concept, ultimate twist on reality and often times almost forcing myself to read things outside of my comfort zone so I don’t fall back on reading the easy day to day literature.
6.) Spiritual travel on a daily basis
Spiritual travel doesn’t necessarily mean that we can take a fantastic trip someplace new every day in our life, but we can take an amazing trip inside the space of our minds. It’s important for me to keep an open mind to travel, and if there is an opportunity to physically do that and it will contribute to my life’s work, that is great. If that isn’t a solution on a daily basis, I do travel in my mind in compassion with people and places on the planet. If I read an article about hardships or political turmoil anywhere on the earth, I try and put my mind in that place and feel what those individuals might be experiencing so I can better understand what they need and what needs to be done. And if I need relaxation or inspiration, I will visualize those special places I have visited in the past to gain energy and comfort and an appreciation of the beauty of the Earth.
7.) Communing with Nature on a daily basis
This is absolutely essential. My original source of spiritual inspiration has always been in Nature and continues to be because that is the purest source. You can read so much philosophy and go to multiple workshops and that is a lot of mind work, but Nature can give you these answers without any words. Again, communing with nature doesn’t mean that you have to have this fantastic experience in the wilderness, because that just isn’t realistic. While I travel a lot and have the privilege of spending a lot of time in Nature, I basically live in major cities and spend the vast amount of my time in large block apartment buildings in Chicago and Madrid, neither of which abounds with nature. However, one can bring nature into their lives by having plants in the home and office. I always have plants, even if I’m staying in a hotel for a few days, I’ll buy some flowers just to have that bit of nature in what is my temporary home. There is nature on the densest city streets. It can be pollen floating through the air, or a bird, or a worm on a sidewalk, there is always nature to marvel at, and it gives me great joy to find these small moments in nature. I’m very happy to say that a tree outside of my office window is home to many birds and I have been known to interrupt meetings to point out the wildlife.
8.) Renewing the vow to right livelihood on a daily basis
Our spiritual practice, as I’ve said before, requires outreach at the social level that will create a positive ripple effect to do our part in taking action. Because of that, our life needs to encompass right livelihood, and that means what we do, our job; what we do in every way needs to be a part of that right livelihood. With each passing day, we can add something to the quality of our daily lives, or at least try to. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend a few minutes thinking about the future and what I can do in work and life to make things a little more dynamic. I take joy and pleasure enhancing my right livelihood on a daily basis.