The pull to spirituality often comes when you’re unprepared for it: You’re on your commute to work and you feel a sudden rush of gratitude for no reason at all. You hold a newborn baby and find yourself moved to tears. You wake up one day with an intense feeling that you need to make a change, like applying for a new job or breaking up with your partner. But spiritual awakenings can also happen slowly, softly, where every day you wonder a bit more about the possibility of an afterlife or the existence of a God. Starting a spiritual wellness practice is the first step you can take to respond to those spiritual itches.
The Spirituality of Everything
Everyone and everything on earth is interconnected by a power that’s greater than us. It’s why people’s happiest memories tend to involve other people or interacting with nature. That force of connection is strong. The organizing power of the universe is not necessarily something you can see, and there’s not a ton of hard scientific proof of it—but that’s where spirituality comes in.
The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. Think about your breath. You can’t see air enter and leave your body (most of the time), but you can see your chest rise and fall. You can feel your body lift and relax as you inhale and exhale. Because of this, you know that oxygen and carbon dioxide are cycling through your body, even though you can’t see them. Spiritual things, like God, are the same way: you can’t see them directly, but you can see evidence that they’re there.
The breath analogy extends even more. Your body will breathe automatically whether or not you’re thinking about it. But you can also breathe voluntarily. Likewise, your spiritual nature is unchanging: you will always have a soul, or true self, and you can ignore it if you want. Or you can care for it, listen to it, and learn from it. Your spirituality is a part of yourself that you shouldn’t ignore. When you take deliberate care of your spiritual self on a regular basis, you are practicing spiritual wellness.
What is a Spiritual Wellness Practice?
The wellness industry is booming right now. Self-care journals, meditation apps, bath bombs, yoga retreats—the list goes on. With all of the products linked to wellness, you might get the idea that you need to buy something if you want to practice wellness. This is not the case! Pfizer defines wellness this way: “Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.” So to be “well”, you only need yourself and a set of daily habits aimed to help you thrive.
Spiritual wellness is just one facet of your overall wellness. And you can thrive spiritually by starting a spiritual wellness practice: a set of spiritual habits to be done on a regular basis to take care of your spiritual health. One of our previous articles says:
“Your spirituality affects all parts of your life, and it needs attention just like your physical or mental health. Establishing a spiritual wellness practice is a way to strengthen your sense of self and bring balance to your life . . . It’s called a practice because it involves creating personal spiritual routines, or regular rituals, that connect you to your higher power.
“It’s also a practice because you may not be very good at keeping up with it at first! That’s okay—the Skylight app is here to help with that. It draws from several world religions to give you the tools you need for holistic spiritual development and healing. With hundreds of spiritual exercises, podcast episodes, journal prompts, and meditations, as well as daily reminders to take a break for stillness and you-time, Skylight makes it loads easier to stick with your spiritual wellness practice.”
If you’ve been looking for a sign that you need to explore your spiritual side, this is it. If you’ve been putting off starting some spiritual habits because you’ve been waiting for the perfect time, that time is now. And you’ll see the benefits right away.
Benefits of a Spiritual Wellness Practice
For a lot of habits, you have to stick with them for a long time, weeks or months, before you see results. A spiritual wellness practice has long-term benefits, of course, but you can recognize a difference in yourself from the first day you begin. Spiritual practices invite peace, clarity, and gratitude into your daily life. For example, mindfulness often has a powerful, grounding effect on your whole self, and prayer can help you calm down in anxious moments. These short-term benefits are almost instantaneous.
There are bigger changes that come as you maintain your spiritual wellness over a long period. Over time, the small, instant changes you notice from everyday practice, which often disappear a few hours later, will become a constant part of who you are. You’ll rewrite your own brain chemistry. Our article about how spiritual wellness can improve your mental health says:
“The benefits of spiritual wellness flow into all areas of your life. Spirituality can calm your mind, help you develop a positive attitude, and reduce stress. Establishing a spiritual wellness practice not only connects you to yourself and God but also establishes consistency in your life. It helps you develop resilience and strengthens you when life feels like it’s upside-down.”
In the end, the reason why a spiritual wellness practice brings lasting happiness isn’t because the habits themselves are magical or life-changing. It’s because a spiritual wellness practice strengthens your relationship with God on a daily basis, and that relationship changes everything. So the spiritual habits connect you to your higher power, and your higher power changes you.
If you’re interested in reading more in depth about the benefits of spiritual wellness, check out the following articles about how spirituality increases productivity, helps you find your identity, and helps you forgive others.
If You’re New to Spirituality
If you’ve never practiced spirituality before, it can be hard to know where to start. Odds are, there are spiritual practices that you already engage in without even knowing it. In our post about how to be spiritual when you haven’t before, we offer three practical steps to get started:
- Set spiritual intentions. No matter what your spiritual practice will eventually look like, it's a good idea to start with setting goals. Take some time to think about and organize your overarching intentions. When you imagine your most beautiful and connected life, what does it look like? Focus on feelings you want to embody or attributes you want to develop. Stay simple, as you don't want to overwhelm yourself with too many intentions at once.
- Connect to your emotions. It's difficult to be spiritual when you are disconnected from how you're truly feeling. We have a nasty tendency to numb out of painful, and even joyful, emotions. And while distracting ourselves temporarily mitigates discomfort, it does us no spiritual favors. It's healthy to feel your feelings, both good and bad, because it can help reacquaint you with yourself. Knowing yourself—your passions, your goals, and your habits—will contour your spiritual path.
- Invest in your hobbies. Making time to do things that you love is an essential element of spirituality. Your hobbies don't necessarily have to be deemed as "spiritual." It's more important to focus on connecting to yourself. What makes you come alive? What do you wish you did more often? When do you feel like your truest self? Make it a priority—not out of obligation, but as a gift to yourself. You deserve to dedicate time to what you enjoy. When you're wrapped up in something you love, you get to spend uninterrupted time with yourself.
You don’t have to dive into an hour-long daily spiritual wellness routine to reap the benefits of minding your spirituality. You can start small, as simple as making time for your hobbies every day. Once you’ve solidified one habit, you can experiment adding another, and then another. Move at your own pace. There’s no rush.
Create Your Spiritual Wellness Practice
As for what kinds of rituals to include in your spiritual wellness practice, anything that gets you to shed the layers and connect to your true self could qualify. Spiritual practices are typically quiet and introspective, and they often encourage you to reach out to God. They’re centered on your core beliefs and personal values. Here is a list of some common spiritual practices:
Once you’ve decided which practices you want to include, you just have to decide when you’re going to do them. Morning and evening are popular times for a wellness practice because you probably already have some existing wake-up or wind-down rituals (case in point: it’s easier to remember to meditate after you brush your teeth every morning than some random time in the middle of the day). Check out this article if you’d like to build a spiritual routine for the morning, or this one if you’d prefer to practice spirituality at nighttime.
Want to start a spiritual routine but also want some variation from day to day? Then the Skylight app is perfect for you. It’s free and has hundreds of spiritual exercises—guided meditations, yoga practices, and podcasts, among others. All the content in the app is intended to help you connect to yourself and God in interesting and powerful ways. You can set up daily reminders for your spiritual wellness practice, where each day you can do something different.
Your spiritual wellness practice is unique to you. You’ll have to try a few things out to discover which practices best fit your personality. A long hike on a warm day might sound like transcendence for one person and pain for another. Give things an honest try and adapt them to fit your lifestyle. Pretty soon, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without your spiritual wellness practice.