pray_hands.GIF (680 bytes) Prayer & Spirituality
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How Spirituality Fits into Your Life

Spirituality is a powerful force if you how to garner it. It is a rock to hang on to when you feel that the world is rushing out of control. It is the unseen force that gives you the courage to push when you'd much rather pull. It shows the way when it seems there is no way.

It's the balm that soothes and heals your inner wounds. With spirituality, you rest easy knowing that whatever ails you, enrages you, troubles you, or gets on your nerve, you can overcome it. Spirituality will enable you to cheer up when you feel down. It lightens you up. All of a sudden, you find that you are laughing at yourself. Laughing with yourself. And with others. Even when it hurts. Simply put, feeling the spirit brings you joy.

Spirit is the salve needed to heal and transform.

You can tap into the healing forces through positive visualization, deep breathing, nutrition, rituals, yoga, and color and sound therapy. But to change you -and your world-you have to change the way you look at things. Healing is really an expansion of consciousness. Healing is what our soul is about. We are many lifetimes behind in our spiritual growth.

Our spiritual healing can be enhanced by the way we live and conduct ourselves. The harder we work to be healthy, physically and spiritually, the more we clean our vessel - body and soul - the more we can be a vessel for the Almighty. The process may take time. Don't rush it. Take one step at a time. Have faith that God will do what is right.

There is no set way to be spiritual. Tapping into the life source-whether you call it spirit, energy, Creator, Allah, or God-is an intensely personal search that means different things to different people. You may have given up on religion years ago, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a rich spiritual life.

There are things that you do every day that get you in touch with your spirituality, such as walking along a beach, meditating, going to church, or performing rituals. We will provide two powerful techniques below to get started. Both are very effective. Follow the one you like.

How to Tap into Your Spiritual Self - by Iyania Vanzant

A Morning Exercise for Everyone - by Philip Zaleski

How to Tap into Your Spiritual Self

The first technique is by lyanla Vanzant, author of 'Acts of faith: Meditations for People of Color', who offers these tips:

A Morning Exercise for Everyone

This exercise is suggested by Philip Zaleski, author of ‘Gifts of Spirit – Living the Wisdom of the Great Religions’ He provides the following Morning Exercise to get your day started great:

When you wake up, spend a few moments lying in bed. Enjoy the exhilaration of the morning air, the shimmer of sunlight along the edges of the drawn shades, the sound of birds. Sense the life flowing through your body. Notice your breath, the pulsing of blood in your fingertips, the tug of gravity upon your arms, legs, and trunk.

Get out of bed slowly, observing the shift in your center of balance as you move into an upright position. Stand erect, without strain. Feel your feet on the ground. Step attentively, aware of the pressure as your soles touch the earth. Expand this awareness in various ways as you go about your morning activities: notice the roundness of the toothbrush handle, the chalky sweetness of the toothpaste, the hard scrape of the comb against your scalp, etc.. Each of these sensory experiences is part of waking up; each of them can be greeted with a frown or a grin. This is where you begin to exercise your will, setting the course for the day. Will you react impatiently to whatever comes your way, or will you greet events with as much serenity as you can muster, containing yourself long enough to form an appropriate response? Will you let petty worries rule your day, or will you remember your higher aims? What comes our way each day is only partly under our control, but how we respond is entirely up to us.

Once you are up and about, it's time to spend a few minutes in a specific, concrete spiritual practice. For many people this takes the form of sitting meditation.

It is best to sit before the disruptions and disharmonies of the day have had a chance to intrude. We are in a sensitive state just after awakening. To some extent, we are still participating in the rhythms of the night, the silence and stillness that enveloped us until a few minutes ago. We are very vulnerable at this time of the day. Most heart attacks take place in the early morning. But this vulnerability can become our strength, for it means that we are malleable and thus in a position to welcome spiritual influences that will help us to reshape ourselves in a positive way.

Every religion offers its own variation on morning meditation, conforming not only to particular theological precepts but to varying cultural conditions. We provide here a basic morning sitting, developed and tested over decades by thousands of Practitioners from different traditions. Consider this sitting to be an open vessel, into which you may pour the understanding and methods of your own tradition. It may be used exactly as presented, or you may adapt it as needed.

Avoid eating before the morning sitting, as the weight of the food, and the process of digestion that it unleashes, can interfere with the subtle energies involved.

Pick a quiet place, if possible a room with a door that you can close. You may sit in a chair, or on a sitting cushion or a pile of pillows in a cross-legged or lotus position. Find a comfortable arrangement. Arms should be relaxed, one hand cupped lightly in the other, palms up. The spine should be erect. To achieve this, imagine that a string has been attached to the top of your head and is gently pulling you upward. This motion straightens and relaxes the spinal column. The position is very comfortable and can be sustained for hours, if necessary, without undue muscular strain. This posture also carries spiritual significance, for only an erect posture befits our stature as beings of flesh and spirit-"children of God," in the lovely Christian phrase, or "God's vice-regents," as the Koran expresses it.

Once you have established. a stable, upright position, a brief relaxation exercise will help prepare you for deeper levels of contemplation. Imagine that a warm, nourishing light is shining on the top of your head. The light softly massages your scalp, erasing all tensions and anxieties. Very slowly, the light moves down to your forehead, smoothing all the little muscles, melting away the tightness. The light caresses the skin with infinite gentleness. Slowly it glides down your face, washing the tension from eyes, lips, and jaw. Let the light bathe your neck and shoulders, let it take away the strain in arms, wrists, hands. The light floods your chest with warm radiance. It flows down to your solar plexus, where you might discover a tight knot of muscular and emotional tension. Never mind; the warm light washes this away as well. Let the light pass down your groin, your legs, and onto your feet.

Follow this procedure slowly and carefully. When you are finished, no muscular or nervous tension should remain.

After the initial relaxation exercise has been completed, return your attention to your chest. Turn inward and enter the temple of your heart. Sit in silence and stillness, remembering why you are here. Breathe slowly, in a natural, relaxed manner. Let your breath anchor your sitting. If in the midst of contemplation you suddenly find yourself miles away, remembering yesterday's dinner or anticipating tomorrow’s flirtation, don’t be concerned. Simply return to your breathing. Let its rhythm steady you and transport you inward, to begin again your silent vigil.

After thirty minutes, the contemplation ends. Leave the prayer as gently as you entered it. The transition back to ordinary consciousness can be a time of fertile discovery: how can I retain the balance, the tranquility, the sense of wonder that I knew during contemplation? Learn the "taste" of this final moment, just before the world invades with all its pricks and prodings.

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