People have long made spiritual journeys. Every culture and religion has its sacred places to which pilgrims flock. The followers of Islam have the holy city of Mecca, Hindus have the Ganges River, Christians and Jews have Jerusalem – and the list goes on and on.
You actually don’t even need to subscribe to a religion or to call yourself a pilgrim to go on a spiritual journey. We can all be pilgrims, and our pilgrimages can be as complicated as a trek up to the Incan city of Machu Picchu, or as simple as a breathing exercise in our bedroom.
Spiritual journeys are as unique as each individual. Though two people may be at the same meditation retreat, their experiences will likely be very different. While one seeker might experience great bliss, another may experience difficulty (have you read Eat, Pray Love?). Sometimes we are ready for the spiritual journeys we take. Sometimes we are not in the place we need to be to benefit the most from them. And sometimes, they simply take us by surprise.
For some, there’s nothing more spiritually satisfying than mountain biking – taking in the fresh air, bonding with nature, and enjoying the physical exertion. But not everyone would consider maneuvering a bicycle down rocky terrain a spiritual experience. So while some are attracted to adventure journeys, others may prefer peaceful, sedate ones.
Below are some examples of spiritual journeys you might want to embark on. For some, you don’t even need to leave the house to experience.
Going on a retreat – either as an individual or in a group – where you withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a guide, is an increasingly popular choice for spiritual seekers. There are now a plethora of yoga, meditation and healing retreats to choose from. Stays last anywhere from a day to a few weeks, during which time the seeker is allowed to focus fully on their personal and spiritual development.
Retreats are usually held in private or secluded areas to allow for as little distraction as possible. There are retreats for individuals, couples, families and even businesses. A retreat can bring couples and families closer together and help individuals recharge or overcome difficulties in their regular daily lives. A retreat must not be mistaken for a vacation because its focus is on much more than just having a good time. Some retreats are incredibly challenging and others are exotic (India, anyone?). But spending your vacation time on a retreat may just be the best thing you’ve ever done!
What is a sacred space? Its definition depends on the individual, but generally speaking, it’s a space that is suited to the peaceful contemplation of the spirit. Sacred space is often found outside the home – on a tropical beach, in a grove of old-growth trees, in a field of wildflowers. However, a sacred space can also be created at home – in a small bedroom, overlooking a view or in the garden. Whether it means clearing a small table and adorning it with a single tealight or creating a more elaborate shrine, one way to make sure there is room for spiritual growth in your life is to create a spot that honors your spiritual quest. Whenever you gaze on this spot, you will be reminded of your journey and the great work that lies ahead.
As mentioned before, a spiritual journey can begin with the simple act of mindful breathing and meditation. Begin by seating yourself in a chair or on the floor, whatever is most comfortable for you. Purposefully slow your breathing. Breathe in for five seconds through the nose, pause, exhale slowly for five seconds through the mouth, and repeat. Concentrate on deepening and slowing your breath down. Breathing mindfully in this way allows the mind’s activity to even out and clears the way for communion with your spiritual self.
Perhaps you feel like traveling to a spiritual place. Vortex sites in the American Southwest are energy centers in the earth where many people have had powerful spiritual experiences. If you desire a spiritual succor in nature, perhaps plan a trip to Yosemite or some place of great natural beauty. The spiritual practices of other cultures can also be a wonderful way to broaden your experience and develop greater insight into your own spiritual nature.
The possibilities for growth and spiritual journeys are endless. By remaining open and focused on the path, and devoting a little time each day to your own spiritual enrichment, you will find a satisfaction that mere material things cannot match.
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