Why is it so important to have a spiritual practice?

There are 4 important reasons:

  1. To remember you aren’t in complete control of your life.
  2. To connect to a purpose bigger than yourself.
  3. To open your heart.
  4. To live long and prosper.

  1. To remember you aren’t in complete control of your life. We are affected by other people’s choices, the culture of our times and by natural and manmade disasters. In addition, we get caught in our obsessive thinking about how “if only” we can achieve success or love, then we will be happy and fulfilled. This obsessive belief that we are entirely in control of our lives drives us crazy. Some things are outside of our control. I am not just talking about environmental factors, but also our genetically inherited characteristics, psychological patterns embedded in the deep unconscious that we have picked up in the womb or baby years and the early lessons we learnt from our parents, ancestors and culture.Your conscious mind is not in complete control.  If we put our lives in the hands of a higher power, then we can release the belief that we are personally responsible for everything.
  2. To connect to a purpose bigger than yourself. Most spiritual practices train us to love others. If you practice compassion towards others there will be moments, perhaps hours, in your life when you are not obsessed with yourself. This can be a great relief from the torment of trying to be perfect or the person you hope to be. If you find a purpose greater than yourself, your sense of meaning comes from your gift to the world not whether you personally succeeded in your ambitions for success, love and health. You will then be able to face more easily the up-and-downs of your own life.
  3. To open your heart. If you open your heart only to your loved ones, your heart will be subject to the ups-and-downs of family life. If you open your heart to the world, the happiness and tragedies of your own life will be held in the greater space of your love for life, all people and indeed, all beings.
  4. To live long and prosper. People who have a spiritual practice live longer and are more resilient. Spiritual practices reduce the onset of physical and mental illnesses, increase the likelihood of recovery from physical and mental illness and increase your life-expectancy. Scientists think that this is because you are likely to increase healthy behaviours, have more social support through your spiritual community and have a greater sense of coherence or meaning. *
  5.  *George, L., Larson, D., Koenig, H. and McCullough, M. (2000). Spirituality and Health: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(1), pp.102-116.Li, X., Weissman, M., Talati, A., Svob, C., Wickramaratne, P., Posner, J., & Xu, D. (2019). A diffusion tensor imaging study of brain microstructural changes related to religion and spirituality in families at high risk for depression. Brain And Behavior9(2), e01209. doi:10.1002/brb3.1209