• Cynthia McCarthy

4 Forgotten Spiritual Practices

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Could your spiritual journey use a new direction, a completely different path, or perhaps just a fresh approach? Consider these oft-forgotten spiritual practices and give these exercises a try!

Gratitude - Gratitude is not a new spiritual practice by any means, but it’s one we easily blow off and forget about. We might make a gratitude list now and then, or start a gratitude journal, but let’s be honest: we get bored and move on. There are many ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily habits, from giving thanks before meals to making an effort to say thank you to the people you encounter. My favorite way is a game I like to play every morning when I wake up.

Exercise: First thing in the morning, before you get out of bed, think of five things for which you are truly grateful. Don’t get out of bed before you do it. You don’t have to write them down or spend an hour thinking about them. Just make the list in your head, and really thank God for these blessings. Try doing it every day for a week with no repeated answers. That’s tricky—you may have to get creative! For me, it starts to feel like a game and a challenge to start my day saying thank you to God. I notice I get out of bed with a smile a lot more often!

Affirmations - The great Louise Hay wrote about the power of affirmations her book You Can Heal Your Life. She encourages us to think in positive affirmations in the present tense to open channels in our consciousness to create what we truly want in life. Unfortunately, our self-talk and “I Am statements” are often full of false beliefs, negativity, and criticism. Why would you ever affirm something negative for yourself? We are conscious, spirit-filled beings and our “I Am statements” powerfully invoke the name of God. As Wayne Dyer reminds us, what follows our I Am should always be congruent with our highest self (God.)

Exercise: Commit to paying attention to your “I Am statements,” both spoken out loud and in your thoughts, and notice what follows them. This will often lead to realizing your self-talk is negative. When you catch yourself saying things like: I’m so stupid, I’m so fat, I’m sick and tired, etc, FLIP THE SCRIPT! Replace negative thoughts with things like: I am smart. I am learning. I am beautiful. I am healthy. I am ready to rest my body, etc. It’s okay if it feels funny at first or feels like you are lying to yourself. As Louise Hay says, affirmations that are used consistently become beliefs and will always produce results.

Nature - Nature is God’s creation, just as we are. It is our life force and a wonderful example of harmony, beauty, and abundance. Connecting with it is like connecting to our Divine Source, and it can do wonders for our spiritual journey. Have you ever noticed how being outside positively affects our emotions and moods? That’s why a walk in nature or a trip to the beach is a good idea when you’re in a bad mood. Noticing and focusing on our oneness with the natural world helps us feel our unity not only with God, but with all living beings.

Exercise: First, find a tree, whether it’s in your front yard, the woods behind your house, or the park across town. Look at the tree up close. Touch the bark. Really notice that it is a living thing—see if you can feel its energy. Look at where the roots enter the ground and imagine how deep and wide those roots go into the earth, giving it a solid foundation. Look at the branches and the way they spread outward. Are there leaves? Think about the way it lives, how it draws water and nutrients up from the soil, into its roots, up its trunk, out the branches so it can grow and flourish. See how it basks in the sunlight, its source. Breathe in the air that you share with this tree, and acknowledge your oneness with all life.

Clearing Clutter - Yes, Marie Kondo’s increased popularity has us all clearing out closets and considering if our things “spark joy” in us, but there is a beautiful spiritual aspect to her methods. Too much clutter can have a negative impact on our energetic life. I once spoke at a small church that had a huge, very old building. The energy in the church was stagnant, musty, and old. There were bookcases filled with outdated books, offices full of old papers and unnecessary records, and tons of clutter. All that clutter was weighing down the church, blocking progress and growth. Within two years, the 100 year old church had sold their building and ended up dissolving. The same thing happens to us in our homes. Clutter blocks us from experiencing our good and impedes the flow of blessings.

Exercise: Clear something! A closet, a cabinet, the kitchen junk drawer, the garage, or the corner of your bedroom where you tend to let things pile up. Notice I didn’t say clear your whole house! Unless you’re really up for that, allow yourself to start small. Focus on one area, and do it any way you want. You can see if the items bring you joy like Marie Kondo suggests, or just ask yourself when you used it last, or consider if you really need the item. The catch is, you have to actually follow through and clear it all the way out of your home. When you donate, give away, sell, or throw away something, imagine the space left behind opening you up the abundant flow of the divine. Bless the item, wherever it ends up, and welcome new blessings into your life. That doesn’t mean you replace it with new “stuff,” it means you are opening yourself to new energy. Things hold energy and everything moves and flows in a cycle. Recognize and accept that you are an active participant in this cycle.

Trying out new spiritual practices can be fun, frustrating, strange, and wonderful. Some work for us, and some don’t. It’s all part of the journey of seeking God, Spirit, Universe, Source. I don’t think it matters how we do it. It only matters that we do.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Blessings to you on your journey!

Rev Cynthia

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