Spiritual Practice: The Journey Within
Excellence is not one exceptional act, but a habit won through training and practice.
The cornerstone for an effective pursuit of anything spiritual is practice. There is a direct correlation between one’s commitment to spiritual progress and the effort one is willing to make towards spirituality. Better known as Mumukshutva in ancient Hindu tradition, this correlation is considered the pre-requisite for the progress of the seeker of Reality. Mumukshutva is the intense desire a seeker feels for liberation or Self-realization.
In our research, which included interviews and surveys of over 200 spiritually dedicated members of various spiritual traditions, this theme was a constant (Shinde et al., 2018). It was clear that even a rudimentary claim to spirituality needed about 2 hours of daily practice. It seems that the adage, practice makes perfect rings true here.
In this article, we will explore various spiritual practices, how they work, and suggest ways to take practical steps in this direction – so that we can create a habit that is sustained and bears fruit throughout our life.
Like any meaningful pursuit, consistent practice over a long period is essential but often hard to do. Most of us get excited about a particular interest (say a new diet), and in time the novelty wears off, and slowly but almost surely, the practice drops off.
In the case of spirituality, this is all the more likely because of the subtle nature of spiritual phenomena. Unlike seeing dramatic changes (such as perceptible and measurable weight loss), spiritual responses, experiences, and states can be very subtle and difficult to notice by our sensory and mental faculties. However, these are happening in the background and can manifest themselves through various signs to which we need to be alert and aware. For now, suffice it to say that Essential Spirituality aims to offer suggestions and practical steps that make perseverance on the path easy and doable.
Before going into the kind of spiritual practices and methods you can use to further your progress, it is helpful to realize that spiritual practices tend to take two forms. A daily core practice, like chanting and meditation, which is meant to bring about rapid spiritual progress. And, supplemental practices that have remedial and healing benefits crucial to facilitating the core practice and enabling it to bear fruit unhindered.
In life, one often has to deal with issues that can act as obstacles along the way. These issues in our personal lives tend to take away precious time and energy from spiritual development. Thankfully, the mystics and sages of the Qadiriya Sufi Order and other traditions have created an elaborate diagnostic and remedial framework to help alleviate such impediments. To learn more about supplemental practices, see ‘Of Horoscopes and Divination: How Astrology Works.’
As mentioned above, the journey within begins with a daily core practice. At Essential Spirituality, we combine multiple methodologies (see our article, ‘Meditation Vs Devotional Practices: The Spiritual Essentials‘ the following spiritual exercises are foundational to Self-realization:
The Zikr of Four, aka Daata Meditation (Shinde et al., 2021), focuses on a particular formula divided into four parts. It begins with breathwork, followed by visualization, affirmation, and finally, the Zikr itself. To learn this method for no charge, please visit our Youtube channel.
The daily repetition of a Divine Name that corresponds to your temperament and belief system serves as a foundation for spiritual progress. For example, if you are Hindu, a chant of your KulaDevata or Ishtadevata is recommended. As a Muslim, one may repeat the first part of the Shahada – lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh throughout the day. A Christian might chant Hail Mary (not the entire litany) or even just, Jesus, depending on whether one is Catholic or Protestant. If a person is atheistic, the Zikr of Four can easily replace chanting or a psychological affirmation.
The key here is to practice this chant throughout the day as much as possible, without restriction. Remember, however, to pace yourself to avoid boredom or burnout. Start small, even 5 minutes, to begin with, relish the journey and then slowly increase the practice.
We have found that the above core practices provided a powerful impetus to our progress on the spiritual path by creating awareness, sweetness, and sensitivity that opens up the doors to insight and subtle perception. We hope that such spiritual practice will do the same for you.
Shinde, J. S., Shinde, U. S., Hill, A., Adams, C., & Harden, J. (2021). Effect of Data mindfulness training on accounting students: results from a randomized control trial. Accounting Education, 30(3), 277-303.
Shinde, U., Nelson, H. J., & Shinde, J. (2018). To be or not to be: A multidimensional spirituality in the workplace. Journal of Human Values, 24(3), 185-207.