A great way to cultivate spirituality is through a rigorous routine. Specifically, the foods we put into our bodies are very connected to how spiritually grounded we are on any given day of the week.
One way to cultivate your spirituality is by selecting one day out of the week to fast from something. For example, for two years now I’ve been taking Monday’s to observe not eating – experiencing solidarity with those who don’t eat because of material circumstance – for two years this has been a cornerstone to my spiritual development and practice. However, lately I’ve found it difficult to stay with it, so I’m remaining flexible and I’ve slightly changed my routine. Now, I eat one meal every Monday – since many people live off one meal a day – I keep this meal as simple as possible, beans and rice or lentils. That may not be for everyone, so there are always variations that you can try. For example, you may want to select one day a week when you ingest only juices or perhaps only fruits and nuts? Or maybe, that one day a week is the day that you decide you will go without turning on the television, or, for coffee drinkers, that may be the day you do not have any coffee? Some, who are more adventurous, may want to spend that day going to somewhere they’ve never been before, even if that is a place down the road from where you live. Not only will this augment discipline, in the cases with food, it will give your internal organs a necessary space and time to cleanse and release toxins from your body.
No matter what it is, fasting from something, or, trying something new one day a week, allows one to explore different perspectives and ways to see their lives and hence the world.
Another practice to experiment with is not eating out more than once a week. Personally, I feel better about myself when I’m not spending money lavishly and for those (such as myself) currently living in the Western world, we must constantly remember that eight or nine US dollars on a meal is what many families around the world have available to them for an entire month of food.
Not snacking between meals is another steadfast way to increase one’s awareness and discipline. No matter what you strive to do, it is important to stick to a practice because that cultivates will power, which will help us grow spiritually (sometimes denying ourselves what we WANT in a particular moment and seeing that it may not be what we NEED, is what allows us to fortify our values/ principles). I also understand that sometimes (for our own sanity) we’ve got to treat ourselves. This means that the lines may occasionally blur at midnight, when we don’t need that apple and peanut butter to stay alive, but we do need that apple and peanut butter to help us smile… and that’s okay (except maybe for the most ardent spiritual seekers)! It’s important to have faith that we will make the right decisions, especially in those moments, and should be kind, gentle, forgiving, and open to accepting the occasional exception to the rule.
No matter how you chose to develop your spirituality and discipline, two of the things I have been meditating on extensively over the past years, is one: consistently remembering how thankful I must be to have food to eat. And two: checking consumerism and excessive use of resources that keeps others in the world oppressed and exploited. It’s important to find out where what we’re buying is coming from; and then, finding alternatives to that which is damaging to the environment and the lives of other people. Maintain your composure, and transform the self without being motivated by guilt. Transform your being patiently, and for many, you will find it necessary to isolate the self in order to explore it more freely and intimately. Isolation means spending time alone. This is always an essential part of spiritual growth. Stay balanced. Focus on how your life is part of something greater, and allow tremendous spiritual experiences to flow. I encourage exploration of self and trying something new whenever possible to my students.
The universe is filled with possibilities for endless growth, seize them and transform!