Are you a spiritual person?
The answer is yes because spirituality is a gift that comes with being human.
Every human being has a spiritual nature.
But what does ‘natural spirituality’ mean?
Natural spirituality is a state of consciousness with three main dimensions:
- A sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves
- Compassion for others
- A search for meaning in life.
What about you? Do any of these three dimensions resonate with you?
Spirituality is not something that can be given. No teacher or tradition can give you spirituality – because you already have it.
Of course, like every other gift, we can either develop it or let it wither away.
Imagine for a moment that you were born with the innate talent to become a professional tennis player. If you learned to play tennis and practiced hard, this talent would bear fruit, and you would become successful. But if you never touched a tennis racket, your innate talent wouldn’t show itself.
That’s what happens with our natural spirituality. If we don’t foster it, it remains just a potential, but if we take up practices that allow our natural spirituality to unfold, it can shape our lives and bring happiness.
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions .”
—The Dalai Lama
If you want to be happier, read on to find a straightforward pathway to more happiness. But first, let’s look at what lies at the heart of most spiritual practices.
At the core of most spiritual practices lies something very simple: being in the present moment.
When we are completely present, without the mind dwelling in the past or imagining the future, our experience of life changes in a significant way. And this change brings happiness.
To feel happier, you need to enter the doorway of NOW. The doorway of now is the present moment. Just this moment right now, whatever it may be.
If you learn to be present to each moment as it arises, this will change your life.
To be present sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s a simple practice, but it’s not easy!
You don’t believe me? Here’s a test:
Sit upright in a chair and close your eyes. Now focus on your next five breaths.
I bet you lost your focus somewhere along the way and ended up thinking about what happened in the past, or started dreaming about the future. Or you became lost in thoughts about the pressing tasks on your to-do list.
Right? I’m sure you experienced some mind-wandering! When people wander in their minds, they often think about worries, anxieties, or regrets. This kind of ruminating fuels unhappiness.
The good news is that practice can make you more mindful and boost your sense of happiness.
A Simple Way to be in the Moment
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Here is a good starter:
- Choose a daily action that happens many times during a day, for example washing your hands. Each time you wash your hands, take a moment to close your eyes and notice the feeling of water running over your hands. As you do this, take a deep breath.
- When you focus on the present moment, you’ll notice a sense of feeling more grounded and at ease. The more you repeat this simple mindfulness exercise, the more you create islands of mindfulness that shape your experience.
- Every time you emerge from your thoughts to notice the present moment, you are creating a new island of mindfulness. In time, these islands will merge, and you’ll experience more mindful moments than times when you are distracted.
But what if you forget to notice?
When you first start practicing mindfulness, you’ll forget a lot of the time. Take the example of washing your hands. Even if you decide to use this as a mindfulness practice, I bet you’ll mostly wash your hands on auto-pilot and only sometimes wake up to your experience.
That’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up. Celebrate the moments you remember to be mindful, and let go of the times you forget to notice.
But what about happiness? What’s the connection?
Does Mindfulness Lead to Happiness?
Studies have shown conclusive evidence that people who are focused on the present moment experience more happiness. (You can watch the TED talk about an experiment conducted by Prof. Matt Killingworth here.)
Research has shown that, on average, people are focused on what they are doing only 47% of the time. Just think about what that means for a moment.
It means that in more than half the time, you may not be experiencing your life and are lost in a fog of worries, anxieties, and regrets instead.
Just imagine how many hours, days and years of our lives we waste because we are not present!
I think you’ll agree that becoming more mindful is a great way to live our lives more fully and feel happier.
However, mindfulness is more than just a tool for living a happy life. It’s a way to develop your natural spirituality. As Eckhart Tolle says:
“How spiritual you are has nothing to do with what you believe but everything to do with your state of consciousness.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that enables your natural spirituality to grow.
How to Develop Your Spirituality
The easiest pathway to develop your natural spirituality is to start with simple mindfulness exercises. As I explained before, it’s a good idea to choose a simple daily routine as a focus, like washing your hands.
Remember to take a deep breath when you feel the water on your skin, as the breath is a powerful anchor to the present moment.
I suggest focusing on the same routine for at least three days, then changing to something else. For example, you could choose actions like opening the fridge walking through a doorway, and so on.
Just be patient and kind with yourself.
Developing a habit of mindfulness takes time. But the reward, living a happier life, is worth it.