Spirituality is not something that should be viewed as being separate from the way you live your day to day life. If your spiritual practice does not help you to live in a more effective manner – one which provides more happiness, joy, peace and fulfilment than would be the case otherwise – then I would quietly suggest that you may be missing the whole point.
There are millions of people who miss the point every day of the week. We all know those who go to a church or temple every Sunday to say their prayers, confess their sins or listen to words of wisdom from the spiritual texts of their tradition, only to emerge from the building and live in a manner which is completely contrary to the path they proclaim to be following.
That is entirely their choice, of course, and nothing which should be judged, but it is a shame that such people may never come to discover the satisfaction that arises from allowing their spiritual practice to pervade the whole of their lives.
The biggest mistake that people make is in viewing spirituality as some kind of ‘escape from the real world’, but that isn’t the real point. The sacred space isn’t meant to be an emotional isolation chamber, but rather a place where one trains the mind and spirit, much like one trains the body in a gym. Whilst both the sacred space and the gym can sometimes serve as sanctuaries which give you a place to take respite from the stresses and strains of work, relationships, health issues, politics and the economy, that isn’t their main purpose.
The main purpose of a gym is to develop a well-trained body so that its owner can live the whole of his life with a greater level of energy, health and vitality. Similarly, the main purpose of following a spiritual path is to develop insights, habits and skills which enable one to live the whole of life from a higher perspective, in a state of greater peace, balance and happiness.
Adopting spirituality as some kind of compartmentalised escape can often mean running to the meditation cushion to hide whenever life gets stressful, or simply praying for divine assistance whenever you mess things up. Pursuing practical spirituality, on the other hand, means training the mind on the cushion so that it is more resilient to stress, or developing a greater level of mindfulness so that you don’t mess things up quite so often in the first place.
The more you practice spirituality as an escape, the less effective you will be in the real world, but the more you pursue practical spirituality, or what some prefer to call applied spirituality, the more effective you will be in all areas of life.
For this reason, over the next few weeks I will present a number of posts about how to apply spiritual wisdom and techniques in very practical ways to help you achieve positive outcomes in your day to day life. If you are someone who would like to be healthier, happier and calmer, and enjoy a greater level of success in your career, relationships and finances, be sure to subscribe to the Spirituality for Seekers mailing list and then keep an eye on your emails for notifications of these new posts as and when they are published.