Have you ever been unfulfilled after obtaining something you thought would make you happy?
Did this make you wonder if there’s more to life than accumulating things?
Have you ever thought about why you’re here?
Of course, great mystics and the religions that grew from their teachings have sought to guide us in this area. Each time a Christian takes Communion. . .or a Muslim turns toward Mecca to pray. . .or a Buddhist closes their eyes in meditation. . .or a Jew recites from the Torah, it is this understanding that they seek.
But which one is right? Which path should we choose? While a spiritual (or intentional) life may involve religious practice or affiliation, it is not limited by that.
The great mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi once said “what you seek is seeking you”. The thing about increasing your spirituality/intentionality is that as you grow, it becomes clear you’re part of something bigger than you. Your essence exists as part of a greater essence, which has been waiting for you to plug your awareness in. This greater essence can’t really be confined in the practice of any one religion, but is found in many. The key is in how any practice connects you to it, and the thing that connects is love. Religions, practices, and faiths that teach you to love are leading you in the right direction, because love dissolves illusionary barriers. The Apostle Paul from the Bible wrote “but now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love”.
You may be asking yourself what does that mean? Love who? Love what? The real question however is, what is there you shouldn’t love? If we’re part of a greater essence, as is everything, then shouldn’t we love everything? The answer is yes, except things that bring separation.
So, whether you practice a specific religion or not, here are five things you can do to help develop your spiritual as well as intentional self:
1. Engage in Daily Acts of Kindness
It can be volunteering for organizations that help those in need; or giving money without judgment to someone begging on the street; or maybe giving your seat to an elderly person on a crowded bus or train. Try to find something unselfish to do.
2. Give thanks
Say thank you sincerely, with a smile, even when someone may not be expecting it
3. Be appreciative
Take delight in the natural things that contribute to beauty and delight in the world. Before bed take time to reflect upon the stars, and when morning comes, the glow of sunrise. And again, say thank you, not to these things, but the force that connects you.
4. To err is human…
If you’ve done anyone wrong apologize, and seek to make amends. Similarly, if anyone has wronged you be willing to forgive. Don’t be imprisoned behind bars of resentment.
Keep a sense of humor, even when what you’re laughing at is you. Humility helps us take that first step on the road to a more spiritual self.
By developing your spirituality, you move closer to a life of intent. Your sense of consideration or appreciation for that which is outside of yourself or immediate interests grows. This will allow you to expand your regard to include other living and non-living things, and an appreciation for the ways they enrich the world.
Changing Your Intent
Growing Your Spiritual Self: What You Can Do Now!
- Try practicing these five things each day for a month.
- What changes do you notice? Are you happier? More at peace? Have greater appreciation for your family and friends?
- Whatever it is, let us know! Share your experiences here or start a discussion on the With Intent Facebook or Google+ page.
~~~~John Maney, Jr is a poet and creative writing workshop leader.
He has been published in several anthologies and magazines. You
can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website maneywords.