The energy of spirituality can leave you feeling lit from within.
What you believe defines your experience of life. Belief not only shapes how you interpret events, it’s the lens through which you see your entire world—including yourself. When you look in the mirror and see a divine creation whose existence is a gift intended to bring good to the world, it’s harder to single out perceived flaws and shortcomings. From a spiritual vantage point, the flaws you once identified can be the very gifts that bring you untold joy, insight, and opportunity. Your challenges, your lessons, your dark night could become the ingredients that yield the brightest, most euphoric dawn. Without the night, the coming sunrise wouldn’t look nearly as bright, right? A mindset of possibility founded in your beliefs is an undeniable energetic asset, one that’s sometimes the missing link in a journey to feel lit from within.
Creating a spiritual practice of your own enables you to maintain that mindset of possibility along your life’s journey. Spirituality expands both possibility and your sense of self. Developing a spiritual practice diverts your focus from the dark, creates deeper meaning in your life, offers guidance along your path and sets you on track toward the best version of yourself. Your spiritual beliefs may remind you that each moment is a perfect part of your journey, and support you in viewing your life from a place of trust and abundance rather than fear and lack.
What exactly is spirituality, and what defines a spiritual practice? Spirituality itself is a level of awareness, namely, “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” It’s also your connection to a more conscious existence. Spirituality helps you ignite your light and can even help you sustain it in challenging times. Bringing spirituality into your life actively connects you to your values and purpose, helping you refine your role in life in the process. In so many ways, spirituality eludes definition because it’s a deeply personal and individual experience. Rather than direct you to a particular religion (many of which share the same truths) or recommend one form of spiritual practice, I wish to share only the immense value of spirituality in your energetic life. Your spiritual practice may be the most powerful and underutilized energetic influence you possess. Ahead, we’ll discuss the foundational ways that your own unique spiritual practice has the potential to light up your energy, and with it, your life.
A Shift in Focus
Nothing keeps you stuck in the dark quite like the inability to shift your focus from troubling circumstances. When you perceive a problem or a hardship, it’s often all you can see. Just shouldering the stress, worry, or frustration you feel around the experience is enough to dim your light—and weaken your confidence, your physical body, or your ability to see your way clearly through the situation. That’s where a spiritual practice comes in to shift your focus.
Grounding your outlook in a belief in a greater plan for your life can balance a hardship with an opportunity or a learning experience, one that allows you a bigger say in your story. Shaking up the comfort of our lives is something that few of us are willing to do unprompted. But given a major challenge or setback, we often rise to the situation and through that experience find ourselves shining brighter than before. Physically, such a shift in perspective prompts the body to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the brain for a cognitive boost, and improve immune function to allow healing and thriving to take place.
The next time you’re facing a challenge, aim to view it as a learning experience and opportunity. I believe that you’re alive to learn, love and light. Adopting a similar view, in your own way, can help shift your focus from a problem to the possibilities before you. What new opportunities have arisen on this path? Who else can you help along the way? The more you trust in the perfection of this moment, your journey, and what it has to teach you, the more light flows through and from you. That energy can awaken in you almost superhuman resilience, while attracting you to other bright sources of energy along the way.
Perhaps the most fulfilling way to find light in the dark is to bring it to others. It’s yet another way to shift your energy, and an act that likely enhances your own spiritual life as a result. Compassion for others has actually been shown in scientific studies to be one of the traits most predictive of well-being. Like spirituality itself, no-strings-attached generosity creates a positive energy feedback loop, from yourself to others and back to you. Directing thoughts, resources, and energy toward others has frequently been shown to amplify fulfillment and joy in return. Ask yourself what you have to give without expecting anything in return. It could simply be time or patience. It could be a comforting presence, or appreciation. Often, it lights us up to express the love, kindness or stewardship that we wish to feel directed toward ourselves as well.
During childhood, there’s tremendous focus on the career you’ll choose as an adult. What role will you play in our world? As adults, most of us are still somewhere in the process of answering this one. But as you grow, the question that might better serve you is, What’s my purpose? So many of us fail to distinguish purpose from profession. What if the purpose of our lives is the experience of our journeys? Perhaps the unique experiences and encounters of your life give shape to your purpose. Deepening a spiritual connection encourages you to trust that your life has a purposeful direction, even if you can’t define it in the moment. It cultivates strength, faith, and patience while you’re in the process.
What does it mean to have a higher purpose? As humans, we inherently seek meaning, explanation, and answers to big questions about our reason for being. I believe that we all have the opportunity to contribute to the positive direction of our world. I take strength in the idea that, at our core, our lives were created with the goals of spreading and embodying love. Spirituality balances the divine purpose of our individual journeys with the humility and lack of ego that we feel in our role as one small piece of the universe.
It’s incredibly thrilling to think about the energetic connections we share, our universal oneness. The same energy that we see in a wildflower or the Grand Canyon or the miracle of the ever-cycling seasons is flowing through us. Wild, isn’t it? Look in the mirror as a reminder that you possess that same energy, in human form. Reflecting on the smallness of yourself creates a feeling of awe that prompts physical change in your body, lowering levels of the inflammatory cytokines that impede healing and even contribute to depression. Feeling awe can also boost your altruistic tendencies, spurring you to act in pure interest of others by diminishing your own central role in the world. What a beautiful way to raise the light within you and spread that light to others in the process.
Excerpted from Ignite Your Light: A Sunrise-to-Moonlight Guide to Feeling Joyful, Resilient, and Lit from Within by Jolene Hart. Copyright © 2020. Available from Running Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.