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If you exercise haphazardly you can't expect to have consistent growth in your fitness and physical health. To be clear, any exercise is better than no exercise, however, exercise performed at a regular, dependable schedule leads to outstanding results. Over time, the progress builds upon itself and the benefits of the exercise become cumulative. It is very much the same thing with developing a greater spiritual connection. Spiritual exercises performed faithfully and regularly over time develop a deep sense of peace. Keep in mind that if you start a gym program with too grand a goal, you can disappoint yourself and possibly even cause damage if you're not very fit. Similarly, start your daily spiritual practices with something that is attainable, within your reach, which can fit into your schedule so that you don't quickly become disappointed. An effective way to begin a consistent spiritual practice is to select a regular time of the day when you can be assured of having 5 minutes uninterrupted time. It doesn't seem like a lot, yet it is enough to start laying down deep spiritual connections. Sit quietly, in a comfortable position, and don't do anything. Only those who try this simple practice can know the deep wisdom of committing to regularly time spent in stillness.
Relationship is key
You and I can't have a deep meaningful connection if we don't have a relationship. For a relationship to deepen in connection, many factors must be considered. I have to show up for
it. I have to have an interest in it which includes the willingness to learn about you, listen to what interests you, and share my life experience with you. I can expect to be influenced by you as our relationship deepens and I learn more about what your values are and we interact with each other. There is much more too. And without relating, deepness is not an option. Similarly with connecting spiritually, you have to develop a relationship with whatever you wish to connect. And here is where you begin to answer the question, with what do I want to connect? Another way to ask the question is, and it is the beginning of developing a relationship, what do I believe about Divinity? Or, what is God to me? Or if those words do not work for you, try this: what do I believe about Spirit, or Higher Power? Still too much? Try this, what does life mean spiritually? Coming to clarity with what you want to connect with will help start the process of developing a relationship with it. Clarity can be formed by taking time to journal your thoughts and questions about these questions. I recommend taking all of the questions above and giving yourself one a week to consider. Just have regular time to write down your thoughts and responses in an unhurried, unedited way. I've co-written a number of interactive spiritual journals just for that purpose and from my experience, writing down your ideas is more powerful than only thinking about them. Don't be concerned if you appear to lack clarity or have more questions than answers, the point is you're showing up for the questions and getting clear on what it is you want to connect with.
If you have already started the practice of sitting for 5 minutes a day, these questions will begin to develop responses in your mind as the weeks progress. Thinking about someone you love is another way of developing deep connections, and in a similar way, thinking about these concepts opens up the pathway to understanding them and being influenced by your deepening understanding of what they are.
Put into it what you want out of it.
Developing greater spiritual connections is not like the typical get rich schemes available all over in that you can't expect to get something for nothing. You can, however, expect a rapid increase in your peace of mind as you begin to reflect on this important and natural part of your being, your spirituality. It will as if you are awakening inborn talent, a kind of coming home. If it has been long time since you gave spiritual matters consideration or if this is a new endeavor for you, you may want to put some energy into educating yourself. Spiritual study is a pillar of a spiritual life, in that study will open your mind to ideas and thoughts that do not originate with yourself. This is very important if you want a greater connection. Sticking with what you already know, greater may not come easily. You may want to read about spiritual practices you are not familiar with, faith traditions other than those you are familiar with. There is no danger in opening yourself to spiritual education especially if you have established a regular, consistent practice of sitting in silence, are thinking regularly about what Divinity is to you and you have an openness to a deep meaningful spiritual life.
Go to any bookstore's religion section and look around at what is available. Try reading about a faith tradition you know nothing about.
Edward Viljoen is co-author (with Chris Michaels) of Spirit is Calling, The Prosperous Life Journal, and Practice the Presence, interactive journals available from Stepping Stones Bookstore. He is co-author (with Joyce Duffala) of Seeing Good At Work also available at http://steppingstonesbookstore.org/index.cgi/kw=viljoen
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