There are periods in one’s life where a formal spiritual practice can be helpful. This can be undertaken whether you are involved in a religion or call yourself an atheist.   There is no need to let beliefs get in the way of developing your spiritual self.  In fact, exploring true spirituality requires going beyond belief, getting out of the head and into some real things that are with us every moment – in our bodies, in the air in how we walk – things that “belief” or conceptualized thinking barely understands.

Experiential practice such as Yoga, meditation, Qigong and artistic expression can help you with real life situations that require a genuine response. Many paths have been designed by exceptional individuals and evolved through generations of practitioners specifically to cultivate the realization of life’s purpose and universal function i.e.,  wholeness. When engaged with enlightened mind and heart, these kind of practices can heal habits of thinking and action that prevent us from happiness and a deeper experience.

Sometimes we think we’re doing something “spiritual” but little has transformed.   In a dharma  session I attended with Bhagavan Das he  said very simply“If you want a different outcome, you need to do something different.”

We  mostly relate to the world  with patterned responses that often don’t reflect our true feelings. They have been covered over with learned ways to  respond, according to culture or early childhood experiences.  We attend important life events without  relating to why we gathered. We have a big meal and run the same programs and conversations whether it’s a wedding, funeral, birthday or going away party.  Instead of eating a big meal same way every time, at every occasion -Birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day -what else can we do? We usually eat a big meal and talk about same things as we do at all events. The subject of the  occasion may not even come up!

How about saying thank-you to the whole universe before a meal, sometimes singing together, dancing together or sitting in silence so we can feel something beyond our sensory titillation?

Or reading a poem out loud to congratulate a friend’s personal breakthrough or to express an appreciation of nature? How about deeply listening when someone tries to tell you that you had hurt their feelings or made things difficult for them? How about giving up your position in favour of someone else’s?

Meet each other in the  sacred space we all know is shining within us?

How about making an appointment with friends just to  express our gratitude by playing drums or chanting about what we believe in?  How about dropping our exaggerated baggage and feeling the happiness we have bubbling underneath?

The desire to engage in such things  can unfold spontaneously when one practices  meditation and contemplation that strips away our cocoon and allows a greater awareness to emerge.   A key point is to choose a path that is well suited to your nature, and to make the practice of it your own sincere practice.