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When you have a hectic schedule, the very idea of incorporating a spiritual exercise can seem difficult and unrealistic. This is more so if you equate spirituality with an elaborate ritual, meditation, worship, or other time-consuming tasks. However, leading a spiritual life need not entail squeezing in additional tasks in your already overburdened schedule. By integrating spirituality in everything you do, you can easily transition to leading a spiritual life.
What does a ‘spiritual life’ mean?
The meaning of spirituality has evolved and is associated with different perspectives. In general, it denotes a connection to a higher purpose as opposed to a focus on material objects. Some may regard a spiritual experience as transcendent, sacred, or having a sense of interconnectedness.
Traditionally, spirituality was equated with the religious process aimed at rediscovering the “image of God.” In early Christianity, the term denoted an orientation towards the Holy Spirit. Spiritual texts across the world equate spirituality with knowledge of “oneness” or unity with God and a higher purpose. Rather than referring to any particular practice, religion, or ritual, spirituality is a way of being. It is a pursuit rather than a destination and involves a search for purpose or meaning in life.
In modern times, spirituality has come to be associated with a range of subjective experiences, including personal growth, religious experiences, a quest for sacred or ultimate meaning, and so on.
For many millennials, being spiritual translates to looking inward and seeking to understand their inner life, which can help them be wiser when dealing with the external world. For many, spirituality is about becoming aware of their inner self and being more contemplative that helps them be less reactive and more authentic. For some people, spiritual life is associated with a temple, church, synagogue, or mosque. Others may find comfort in developing a personal relationship with or praying to a higher power.
Certain virtues, including empathy, open-heartedness, compassion, and inclusivity, have come to be equated with spirituality. These virtues naturally stem from the introspection and self-knowledge or awareness required to lead a spiritual life. Self-knowledge relates to knowledge of the beliefs we hold, the way we act, and our interdependence. Whether such knowledge is acquired through self-reflection or spiritual practices such as meditation, it can help a person become more empathetic and sensitive to others’ emotions and towards the surrounding environment.
For some people, the inner journey inherent to spiritual life is about self-transformation. It is about achieving self-mastery by transcending early childhood programming. For others, spirituality is about aligning themselves with life’s immaterial dimensions.
Image credits: PickPik
Nine ways to practice leading a spiritual life in your busy schedule
Your own definition of spirituality may be as unique as you are and may evolve throughout your life and adapt to your life experiences. Spiritual life is not about carrying out a task, but rather about how you live all the time. Merely going to the church or temple every week may not make you spiritual. If you have been struggling to ‘add’ spiritual practices such as gratitude, meditation, or prayer in your busy life, align and adjust your thinking. It is not about adding more tasks to your already busy schedule; instead, it is to do with how you do things that already fill your day and how your whole life can be a spiritual journey. Integrate spirituality into everything that you do and have to do, rather than ‘adding’ to your list of ‘to-do’ tasks.
Here are some simple ways to integrate spirituality in your everyday life despite your busy schedule:
- Timed reminders – Your cell phone can be a useful tool in your quest to lead a spiritual life. Whether you want to pray, practice gratitude, meditate, do breathing exercises, yoga, or recenter your awareness, setting up recurring alarms on your phone can help you stay on track.
- Use sticky notes – If you lead a busy life, you may have to keep your phone in silent mode at times, particularly at the workplace. This is where sticky notes can come in handy. Put sticky notes on your computer, desk, drawers, or on your mirror that can remind you to say a quick prayer of thanks, practice mindfulness, or help someone in need.
A story is told of a deeply holy and highly respected Buddhist monk. Many pilgrims came to learn from him from far and near as his life was a lesson in spirituality for everyone around him. One of the pilgrims asked him how he was able to successfully lead a spiritual life. The monk replied that when he ate rice, he only ate rice.
In today’s age of multitasking, most of us find it difficult to focus on one single task and be present in the moment. However, the ability to be mindful, aware, and focused on the task on hand is integral to leading a spiritual life.
A spiritual practice need not always mean meditation, prayer, or a religious ritual. It can also be a mundane task that is done well and offered to God as a spiritual service. Whether it is washing dishes, cleaning your home, vacuuming, doing laundry, or cooking, practice mindfulness and avoid distractions such as phone calls or television. Many people who are busy tend to complain about the routine, boring, or challenging chores they have to take care of. Instead of complaining, be aware of how the task that you have to do can turn into a blessing when you do it to the best of your ability.
Meditate in bed
No matter how tired you are, you can always take out two to five minutes each night before you fall asleep for meditation or a small prayer. Close your eyes, pray, meditate, or breathe deeply, whichever is your preferred spiritual practice. Even if you fall asleep in the process, it is fine.
Before you hit the ground running every morning, meditate or breathe deeply for a few minutes. This helps you set the tone and calm your mind before you dive deep into your busy day. As soon as you are awake, take a deep breath, visualize the day, and set good intentions. Pray and ask for help if it fills you with positive energy.
Meditate while waiting
Waiting is inevitable, be it at the doctor’s office, at the takeaway, public transport, or at a grocery store. Instead of staring at your phone, use this time to pray or meditate. Start with a few deep breaths and observe your surroundings without any judgments. You can also use guided meditation apps to channel your thoughts inwards. The other way to utilize this time is to extend compassion to those around you and pray for their well-being.
Read as much as you can
One of the most important aspects of leading a spiritual life is the acquisition of the right knowledge. Reading is the best way to acquire knowledge and expand your spiritual horizon. Although reading cannot replace spiritual practice, it can help you understand how you can practice spirituality.
Leverage the commute
Do you have to drive to work, use public transport, or drop off your kids to school every day? Make the most of this time to pray, listen to a spiritual talk, meditate, or just have some quiet time with God.
Take a moment to relax before you reach home
Most people who have had a hectic workday are in a hurry to get home. Whatever tasks await you at home – dinner, kids, chores, shopping, or more work – can wait for five more seconds or minutes. Before walking into your home, take a moment to slow down, relax, and pause. Sit in your car and meditate, reflect, or breathe for a few seconds. If you walk home from work, see if there is a place where you can sit or walk around for a few minutes, such as a park or lakeside. If you live near a forest, park, waterbody, ocean, river, or pond, gazing at nature for a few minutes can help refresh and rejuvenate your mind and body.
Busy people can often be oblivious to all the good things in their lives. Identifying your blessings each day is a spiritual exercise that can detox your mind and body. Every day, identify a blessing from different sources (a family member, your work, a neighbor, a friend, boss, stranger, an enemy, or employee). You will find that this exercise helps fill you with gratitude and positivity.
Pick up from where you left off
It is called a spiritual practice for a reason. Perseverance and practice are integral elements of spiritual life. Even if you fail time and again, it is important not to give up or let guilt overwhelm you. Nobody has set limits on the number of attempts you can make, nor is there any deadline. See every morning as an opportunity to restart your spiritual journey and pick up from where you left off.