Spirituality and How to Nurture It Within
Like some of you, I’ve always hungered after spirituality. As a consequence, I have learned many things about it over the years.
If spirituality is like a garden in your soul, meditation, reflection, introspection are like fertilizer or food for the garden.
You'll notice I left out "prayer." I did so intentionally because prayer has all but lost its original beauty and richness and has for too many centuries degenerated into a method of manipulation and a magical means of getting God to do what you want in life.
Instead of a meditative exercise wherein the practitioner enters into a deeper and more complete feeling of oneness with God, prayer has degenerated into a means of getting God to fill the items on your grocery list of needs. Prayers are coins dropped into a cosmic slot machine, pulled by a lever called faith, and both with great hopes of hitting the jackpot.
This is about all prayer is for most religious people today. It is not, however, what prayer is for those interested in a vital spirituality.
Meditation is the method of real prayer. Meditation is learning how not to speak but enter into silence and stillness. And, there is nothing foo-foo about this. To meditate is simply the art of being still, something so foreign to people in the west. No wonder "stillness" or "silence" sounds so strange to most of us. And, difficult to do.
If you will make it your practice, however, to regularly meditate (and there are many good programs of meditation), your spiritual life will flourish. That's a promise. You may never enter a church, temple, or mosque again, but you will be deeply spiritual and you will live a transformed life, if you make meditation a regular spiritual practice.
Just as You Are What You Eat, You Are What You Read
Immerse yourself in the rich repository of spiritual wisdom written by practitioners of spirituality throughout the ages. You will be doing for your inner life what the spring rains do for a newly planted garden. Spirituality will take root and burst forth with abundant growth. As an unavoidable consequence, you will know and rejoice in your walk with God.
"What should I read?" you ask.
Here are a few of my favorite spiritual guides and some of their better writings:
• Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
• Phil Jackson, A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life
• Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
• Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
• Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred
Of course, I would also encourage you to read my own book The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God. I close with the question that both opens the book and closes The Enoch Factor itself ...
“You were born to walk with God...So why would you walk alone?” - Dr. Steve McSwain
Dr. Steve McSwain is an author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher. His books and blogs inspire spiritual seekers around the world. He is a devoted follower of Christ but an interfaith activist as well. He is frequently heard to say, in the words of Mother Teresa, "I love all religions; but I'm IN LOVE with my own." Read more from Dr. McSwain on his blog Your Best Life Now.