Are Your Spiritual And Life Practices Vices Or Virtues?

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[success]Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, is this necessary?  ~  Marcus Aurelius [/success]

When we first begin to grasp that the life we lead is all our own work, we might panic. Gulp, now I’m in charge. Heck, what comes next? Or we might turn into overnight dictators…follow me folks, this is the way to love and enlightenment.

And then there’s that other route…the one that leads to overwhelm and a dispirited soul. Probably more vice than virtue here.

We devour books and learn new practices, we attend every spiritual class within easy access and many that aren’t so easily accessed.  Think retreats in Peru…lovely…but a long way to travel for most of us.

We want to experience it all, preferable in one gigantic mouthful.  Swallowing life and spiritual food as quickly as possible, before gobbling down the next mouthful. Spiritual gluttons we. Not so virtuous maybe?

Just like Eve who ended up with different practices from different philosophies that left her with ten long prayers to read each morning, numerous affirmations to speak before breakfast, five or was it six guided meditations to get done each day and that doesn’t count the various vision boards and books she’d make and remake….I think you get the picture.

Eve somehow decided she needed to do every exercise, practice every ritual, every meditation that her latest book or class suggested and do them every day. No surprise she felt under enormous pressure.  Her thoughts and feelings were running the show, and she’d chosen to think that if she didn’t follow through on all of them, she ‘wouldn’t be spiritual’.

She forgot, as many of us do, that she didn’t have to work at being spiritual, she already was of spirit and all that was required was her awakening and remembering.

If life is running away with you, if it feels more vice than virtue, be it your spiritual life or your material life, remember it feels this way because you think of it in those terms and changing the way you see it can make all the difference.  We can all become victims of our thinking.

In order to relax and move beyond overwhelm, be it of a spiritual junkie nature or something we’ve managed to make up in our physical world, we need to direct the movement of our thoughts and feelings.  And that requires a bit of training.

And training isn’t easy during times of stress or overwhelm, self inflicted or not.

So for those who intellectually get what to do, but for reasons known and unknown just can’t quite follow through yet, here’s a few practical tips.

What truly matters

Identify the core of what’s important to you. What do you value most in your life, is it your relationships, your career, making money, your kids, spiritual development, health, being philanthropic, writing, speaking, self-improvement, your connection to the Divine?

You choose…no-one is judging.  These are things that matter to you and if they matter to you it’s because they’re essential to your current well being.

Let your core values be your compass to your day, guiding your actions and make sure you schedule something every day that fulfills one of your values.

Why?  Because at a soul level we’re using our values as a measurement of how our life is working for us.

If one of your core values is health and you’re working all the hours that God sends, chances are you’ll feel stressed.  You’re not in harmony with one of your deepest values and you won’t be feeling good.

Take a peak under the hood

When Socrates said the unexamined life wasn’t worth living, I doubt that he meant spending time endlessly going over things that happened in the past or wondering why our boss looked at us sideways.  Did we do something wrong?

Have you noticed that one silly thought begins to invite all its friends and cousins to join in the party?  Before too long we have a host of must do’s or what if’s ending in a looooong mental list of all of life’s disappointments and upsets.

Like always attracts like, and that includes our thoughts and our moods.  And down the rabbit hole we go.

This isn’t the best time in the world to try to do some mind training, but being aware that currently we’re in a state of reflecting the turmoil, instead of affecting it, allows us move into a kinder place of sweet surrender.  Letting go, for now, of the way we think things ought to be.

Call upon your spiritual virtues

We’re not talking about more must do’s or must have’s here. No obligations at all. Just an awareness of the wonder and joy that come to every one who follows the path of spiritual virtues.

Feeling obligated to do something, because it might make us a better person, isn’t the purpose of the exercise here.  Think of your spiritual virtues as a path of energy which nourishes and feeds your soul.

So basically, we benefit.  Minimum waste of energy for maximum joy.

Follow the way of imagination. The vibration of energy we become immersed in through looking for and living spiritual virtues allows us to live an authentic, joyful and fulfilled life and create an easier way to move beyond overwhelm.

Compassion

Practice loving kindness to you and others.  Not a physical act, unless your inner guidance leads you to do that…I’m talking about using your imagination, which is simply spiritual sensation.

Gratitude

Feel gratitude for your life.  It’s a beautiful thing. Look for the diamonds in the dirt and give thanks.

Praise

Our self concept consists of what we think of ourself AND others.  Mentally use praise to support others. Since our self concept determines the life we lead, how cool that as we bless others we are blessed.

Generosity

Be generous of spirit, mentally hold out your hand and raise someone from an unhappy state, see them being happy and fulfilled in their life and be glad for them.

Can you relate?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your experiences matter. You matter even more. 

Thank you for reading and sharing and adding your brilliance to the conversation.

Encourage one another.

Love Elle

ElleSommer
Elle Sommer is the author and founder of Live Purposefully Now, a website focused on sharing the insights and ancient wisdom that have collectively changed her life, in the desire to make a meaningful impact on yours. Trained at Coach U and having completed a year long training with Bob Proctor, her mission is to encourage and inspire others to build the business, relationships and life they want. Get your free instant access to Success Simplified ebook and get the tips, techniques and secrets of successfully living the life you want.

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10 Comments

  • You know what, Elle – I realized when my Mom went through prolonged illness – that only that day mattered – as long as I was able to sleep, feeling satisfied that I had attended to all the essentials and emergencies, like looking after her well, cooked well, made my family happy, it was enough. I neither had the energy or desire for more. The funny thing is – it was really enough. Worrying doesn’t take us anywhere. It also makes sense to ask ourselves, “will this matter a week from now?” when we fret over something. Invariably, in my case, I found the answer was “no” or “not really”. That helped me let go and savor the moment. It takes hard work to live in the moment. But I am getting there…the effort is paying off huge dividends. 🙂 And that is why I love your post today.

    I can compare it to all the great stuff I am accumulating, hoping to read it all some day. And you know what they say about “some day”. 🙂 I am just glad I am busy living today. 😀

    Hugs!

    • How lovely Vidya that you were so aware of being in the now with your mum. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stuff that’s going on. I love the fact that your busy living life today because I know you’re practicing happiness which makes our entire world a better place. 😀

  • Lovely reminders, Elle! Thank you! I came here today because of bad stray thoughts that creep up on me from time to time, so I had to change that stream by immersing myself in some good blog material!

    Mystics say your thoughts are not your own. They are byproducts of your conditioning and environment and are “outside” your true inner nature. It is important to embrace that inner nature and hold on to it, for that is the real you, not the distorted image, of which the thoughts are a part of, that appear as a projection, what we call our life. I know, mind-boggling, but also very comforting. See-ers “see” with their soul’s eye, and the mind just provides the screen for it, so to speak. This is a good thing to remember. So, we can use our thoughts as mere indicators to where we are and to change our vibe if we do not feel good there. Being overly sensitive is not good. We should just take things in stride and use our intuition to be prosperous and spiritual, which go hand in hand. So, a bad memory is our interpretation of something that may have happened to which we put a label.

    It does not matter, does it? Not really.

    • We all need that reminder A however far down the path of awareness we are…and I’m so happy you stop by here to share your wisdom. I too like the trick of immersing myself in a feel good something when I get the first inkling that I’m not in my usual harmonious place. It’s a good tip for us all. 🙂

  • Elle –

    I don’t know what to do with you (as I giggle). There is so much juicy and down to earth advice in your words

    First, I love the quote at the top of the page. ‘Most of what we say and do is not essential’. I strongly believe in those words.

    When I attended seminary, I was one of the few that didn’t have a regular ‘meditation’ practice. When I talked with my dean about it, she was adamant that without meditating regularly, I couldn’t go deeper spiritually.

    What I quickly came to realize – and instinctively knew- was that of course I do meditate – in nature, in my garden. Years later, I do meditate when sitting in the morning BUT it is usually a visual meditation.

    SO much for following rules. As soon as someone tells me that this is the ‘right way’, the ‘only way’ or ‘you should’, my instinct says to head for the door.

    You are on target about living your core values. It is a discipline ~ but a worthy one
    xxoo-Fran

    • Hi Fran, I never knew you attended seminary, you should write about that soon…I’d love to hear more. I sooo understand about meditating in nature…my early morning walks always fill me with joy. Great points about there never being only one way…we all have our own way since it’s our path we walk…makes sense to me. 😀

  • I enjoyed this post, Elle. Recently I decided to write down all my tasks and things I want to do. I ended up with 2 1/2 typed pages. No wonder I struggle with overwhelm.
    Gratitude is the spiritual virtue that helps me the most. Basically, I’ve got a wonderful life. I just need to learn to give up “the good” for “the best”.

    • I had to laugh Susan because I know exactly what you mean when you actually write down all those things. I think using our core values as a compass helps determine if we can more easily junk a bunch of stuff because it doesn’t really tie in with them. Love your phrase give up the good for the best. Oh yes. 🙂

  • Another great article, Elle.
    I was reading the other day about “surrendering to Love” and that is exactly what you are encouraging us to do. Your checklist of spiritual values all fall under the Love umbrella. And I have to admit to chuckling right out loud when I read ” one silly thought begins to invite all it’s friends and cousins to the party” , so true, so true ! Thank you !
    Write on, Elle !

    • Thanks Joseph and the idea of surrendering to love makes perfect sense to me…given that we’re either occupying the place of love or fear and that’s really all there is. 🙂

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