Something More; Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Do you sometimes feel that you are living someone else’s life?  A life that is not genuine or authentic?  Do you yearn for something more than what you have?   Do you find yourself longing for a life that is full of purpose, of meaning; a life where you feel as if your physical existence and soul purpose are in alignment; where you are living the sort of life that you were meant to live?

Many people do.  And many people try to fill that gap in their life; that need for meaning and purpose with whatever it is that has made them feel good in the past.  This could be anything from food, alcohol, excessive exercise and nicotine to sex, marijuana, extreme sports or hard drugs.  It doesn’t matter for it’s all the same. That is to say that there is nothing wrong with most of these things in the right place or time, but when you begin to use them as a means of filling that gap; that is when those things become a problem. The thing is that there is a better way.

You can create that purpose and meaning in your life by living a spiritual life.

No, living a spiritual life does not mean that you have to go get yourself a religion.  It does not even mean that you have to pick a particular tradition and stick with it.  No.  What living a spiritual life means is that you are taking those things that you instinctively know in the deepest part of your soul to be right and true; and are incorporating them into your everyday reality.

You are finally living from your heart.

It is not an easy thing to live from your heart.  In fact, sometimes it can take all of your strength and test your resolve to the point that you wonder if it is really worth it or if it wouldn’t by far be easier to go back to living the way that you were; the life that you had.

But if you are truly committed to living a more fulfilling and authentic life; to bringing your reality into alignment with your soul purpose, then below you will find seven steps that should help you in putting together more spiritual life; one where you are living your beliefs so that you can become the person you were truly meant to be.

Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Step #1:  Practice Everyday Mindfulness.  In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness “means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally.”  This can be an extremely difficult (though not impossible) thing to do.  And there are a number of ways to bring your attention to the here and now; to what is happening at this particular point in time.    (For more information on mastering everyday mindfulness, click HERE).

Step #2:  Practice Emotional Mindfulness.  Emotional mindfulness is different than everyday mindfulness.  In practicing everyday mindfulness you are paying attention to what is happening around you without; allowing it to be exactly what it is without judgment and without trying to change it.  Emotional mindfulness is a tad more difficult.  Emotional mindfulness is learning to pay attention to your thoughts.  Emotional mindfulness is learning to screen your thoughts and beliefs for any self-sabotaging patterns and replacing them with those that will bring your thoughts into alignment with who and what you really are.  (For more information on mastering emotional mindfulness, click HERE).

Step #3:  Take Time to Pray.  It has been said that prayer is the art of communication; of speaking to creation. Whether you believe that you are speaking to God, the Universe or your higher self, know that it is the presence with whom you converse that brings to you all of the circumstances and experiences that make you your life. If you want to bring certain things into your life, then it is important to be very clear on what it is that you want so that this presence knows exactly what to bring to you. Unclear or unspecific requests will bring unclear results.  If you are grateful for those things that you already have, don’t be afraid to say it!  In fact, expressing gratitude actually opens you up for more blessings as you make yourself into a magnet for everything that you want by BEING what it is that you are looking for.

Step #4:  Take Time for Meditation.  Whereas prayer is the art of communication with the divine, meditation is the art of listening.  Think about it, it does absolutely no good to ask a question if you aren’t willing to listen for an answer.  All the prayer in the world isn’t going to help if you aren’t open and ready for the answers that you are given. Meditation does not necessarily mean that you have to sit in a full-lotus position for hours every day.  Meditation takes many forms, but the most important thing to remember is that the true nature of meditation is the art of learning how to LISTEN; to your thoughts, your mind, your soul, your body.  You can meditate sitting down, standing up, lying in bed or even walking down the street.  (For more information on how to meditate, click HERE).

Step #5:  Learn to Trust and Act on Your Intuition.  It is not enough to tell the Universe or higher self what it is that you want and then to listen to your heart and what it is telling you should do to achieve it.  You must also learn to act on the promptings of that inner voice; to trust what it is telling you enough to take the steps it suggests when it suggests taking them.  You may receive confirmation by the arrival of synchronistic events in your life.  Don’t ignore them!  (For more on the importance of synchronicity, click HERE).

Step #6:  Body Awareness.  Being in touch with your spiritual nature does you little good if you cannot live out your intentions.  For this reason it is important to pay attention not only to your diet and exercise, but to your body itself; its needs and wants and desires.  The body is what we have to work with in this physical reality and too many of us take it for granted.  Learn how to communicate with your body.  Learn how to listen to what it is trying to tell you.  Learn how to eat and exercise with awareness and intent.

Step #7:  Live Intentionally and Joyfully.  Living with intent and living joyfully are probably two of the most challenging – and rewarding things that you can do.  Unfortunately we live in a society where most of us live and exist on autopilot, rarely thinking about how what we are doing and how we are doing it is impacting our lives.  Most people are completely unaware of how the power of intent and the transforming energy of joy can change even the most mundane of tasks into a powerful affirmation of who and what we really are.  By using the art of mindfulness to focus on each task that we undertake and to bring our whole selves into the moment sanctifies what we are doing and makes it special; sacred even.  By taking joy in everything that we undertake we put all of life into a sharper focus.  And even the most mundane of activities suddenly takes on new purpose and meaning and becomes a part of a life lived from the heart.

The trick, you see, to creating a truly spiritual life is not to do – but to be.  By choosing to engage all of our senses; our mind, our body even in every task that we undertake from eating breakfast to our evening’s meditation and doing the dishes, by focusing our intent on every aspect of our lives; on bringing our everyday life into alignment with our soul purpose, by living joyfully and by putting all of this together we choose to live in accordance to our highest vision of who and what we really are and we can finally step forward knowing that our lives will finally reflect our true nature and purpose in life.


©Stephanie S. Henry 2012

Authentic Living 102: Clearing Your Space

You feel the urge to start over; to be someone new; to start living your authentic life.

Perhaps you have just started a new job, moved to a new house, ended or begun a new relationship, had a child (or conversely finally gotten your kids out of the house) or have had a spiritual epiphany. Or maybe, just maybe you feel that, for some reason, the time is right for a new beginning.

The reasons are not important. What is important is your urge – your NEED – to begin again.

This urge – this NEED – shows that you have reached a new level in your personal development and are ready to acknowledge the fact that you have begun a new chapter in your life’s story and, interestingly enough, all new chapters always begin on a fresh page.

Where I personally have messed up multiple times, is in not taking this urge seriously. By brushing it aside; treating it as something amusing but not a priority, by not following through I have found myself falling back into the old habits and patterns that inevitably take me back to the beginning again, and once more I find myself having to relive the lessons that I thought I had finally mastered.

Each person will go about the “starting over” process differently, depending on their personal preferences and priorities. I am going to share with you what has worked for me. This list is in no way all-inclusive, so feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. Instead see it as a sort of outline, flesh it out with what feels right for you.

How to Clear Your Physical and Emotional Space

I’ll grant you that really getting into your house/apartment or room clearing DOES offer you an opportunity to vent your frustrations with whatever it is that is bothering you, but it is also a lesson in psychological clearing. For when you physically clean your space you are emphasizing a simultaneous psychological clearing as well.  So as you work, take time to mentally evaluate those things that are directly tied to the space/items that you are clearing out of your life.

Step #1:  Clear the Clutter

It is amazing how much STUFF we tend to accumulate – both physically and emotionally. Where on earth does it come from? Better yet – WHY DO WE KEEP IT? Books and magazines and ticket stubs to movies we didn’t actually enjoy. Outmoded ideas and beliefs; collections of various knickknacks, photographs of people whose names we’ve forgotten, broken pieces of furniture that we’ll get around to fixing one day, the list goes on and on and on. Each and every item not only takes up physical space but emotional space as well.

Get rid of it – all of it (yes the emotional and psychological clutter as well!).

Any physical object that you do not use at least once a year (the exception being specialized sports equipment) a GET RID OF IT! If you HAVE to collect something, pick your top five favorites (for me its books, sheet music, elephants (don’t ask), international gods/religious statues, paperweights and baskets).

I set myself a limit in each category depending on the amount of space I have for it. If I want a new item, I have to get rid of one of the old ones. Allow yourself one box for “Personal” items (ticket stubs, birthday cards etc.) and, when the box is full, purge the old stuff. It’s amazing how many memories (many of them negative) that we attach to these odds and ends. Clearing them out of our lives can help emphasize the new beginning that you are wanting to embrace.

Step #2:  Clean Top to Bottom

From your ceiling fixtures to your baseboards – CLEAN EVERYTHING. Clear the cobwebs out of the corners, scrub the stains off the carpet, run all of your curtains and bedclothes through the laundry. Check the air vents for dirt build-up, change your air filters, and wash your windows. You will be surprised (or maybe not) at how your mood will lift when everything is CLEAN, and free of the odors and stains that you may not even realize you were associating with past mistakes and failures.

Step #3: Mental Re-evaluation 

Go through your paperwork, your magazines, your computer files, and purge and pare down. Condense those things you want to keep, delete or shred those things that are no longer needed.

This is the perfect time to start a journal (or to get a new journal if you already keep one). Select it carefully; the color and type you pick out can speak volumes about your personal self-image.

Pick out several new books that you want to read, or subscribe to a magazine that reflects your philosophy on life.

Go through your “favorites” list on your computer. Do you even know what some of those sites are anymore? Why are they taking up space? Do you belong to extemporaneous internet sites? Are there games taking up space on your hard-drive that you haven’t played in years? Delete them, discontinue your subscriptions.

Chances are that as you come across various objects in this particular category you will be inundated with memories and emotions associated with them, don’t be afraid to let go of these as well!  Especially those that are not serving you (that is, those that do not reflect the highest expression of who and what you really are).

Step #4:  Re-evaluate Your Wardrobe

It is not just your physical wardrobe of course, but how you present yourself to others. Is the persona you are presenting to the public authentic? Or is it simply what you are “expected” to be?

As to the evaluating the wardrobe you keep in your closet…this may sound particularly ridiculous, especially to a guy, but try it! Go through all your clothes, put aside everything you haven’t worn in a year (the exception being heavy winter clothing or specialty items, such as ski-suits, swim-suits or evening gowns/tuxedos).  Put those items you no longer use (or that are too small or out of style) immediately into a plastic bag or box and get it out of the house. Give them to charity, or put them up for adoption at a consignment shop if you can’t stomach throwing them out but if you haven’t worn it in a year, DON’T KEEP IT.

Once you’ve pared out the things you haven’t worn – go through everything again and this time delete everything that you don’t want. This is harder. This takes an evaluation of who you are, what you want, and you may be surprised to find that you have been wearing things that don’t fit the image of the person you want to be, things you’ve worn because you felt obligated Were they a gift? Something someone expects you to wear?  Don’t let someone else’s expectations dictate the persona you present to the world.

Finally, check your underwear. Yes, I said underwear. Does your underwear fit? Does it cover what you want to cover or show what you want to show? Why not? It’s amazing how much better you feel in your clothes if you are wearing the right kind of underthings. Again, this can be seen as a psychological process as well – WHAT IS SUPPORTING YOUR BELIEFS? What lies at the core of your understanding? Will it hold up those things that should be supported?

Step #5:  Physical Reboot

No psychological clearing is complete unless one has undergone a physical purging as well. Some people are blessed with enough income to go to a spa or health retreat and spend their hard-earned $$ on mud-wraps and massages and steam baths, but a two-day juice-fast, long-hot soaks in the bathtub and over-the-counter face masks as well as long sessions at the gym can make you feel amazing inside as well as out, as can committing to a long-term (realistic) exercise and/or diet plan.

I know that it may seem like a lot of work, but by paying attention to all aspects of yourself, by re-evaluating everything from your grocery purchases to your wardrobe, you can uncover a host of psychological blocks that you never even knew existed and which, had they gone un-detected and un-addressed, may have caused you to fall back into your old habit patterns.


Step #6:  Ditch the Guilt

Finally – ditch the guilt over getting rid of the things (both physical and emotional) that are no longer of use to you. The whole point is to re-create your world to reflect WHO YOU ARE NOW. Not who you were.  Without this last step you have will keep your clutter at bay for a while, but eventually it will creep back in.  So don’t skimp on this last step.  But when you have taken it, take a deep breath and look around you and revel in the openness and authenticity that you have incorporated into your life.

The Abyss

You! Yes you, there, the one standing on the edge of the abyss!

No, don’t look over your shoulder, I’m not standing behind you. How could I be? There’s a sheer cliff face behind you.

No, it doesn’t matter where I am – would you knock it off? It doesn’t matter who I am, it really doesn’t. I just need you to be quiet for a minute and listen to me.

Why? Did you actually ask me why? Oh please! You’re the one standing on the edge of an abyss, a sheer cliff at your back, and nothing but bottomless emptiness in front of you, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, not a clue as to what to do next and you’re asking a disembodied voice that’s trying to help you as to why you should listen to it?

You know what I should do? I should just leave, right now. Leave you to your contemplations of the horrors that may or may not lie in wait for you should you jump or fall or be pushed off your precarious perch, how dreadfully dangerous the winds that are buffeting you are and how you’re afraid that you may loose your grip accidentally, or how hopeless your situation is since the cliff face is sheer, offering no toe-holds to climb back up, and you haven’t been able to get the attention of anyone at the top of the cliff who could help you.

But I’m not going to leave, even though it aggravates me to see you trembling there in indecision when it is perfectly clear what’s going to happen. But I forget, you are so wrapped up in clinging to your ledge that you’re not taking time to see the big picture. I understand how being on a ledge as you are would be distracting. But what I can’t understand is why it is you actually seem to be enjoying your predicament.

Well, you certainly talk about it enough, how scared you are, how nervous you are about what comes next, all the things that influenced you to this point, how uncomfortable you are, how much your cuts and scrapes hurt, how you managed to end up here….ah, that one is the worst! I mean, look at you! It’s obvious how you got here. You left your normal, everyday life, picked up your backpack of hopes and dreams and struck off up the mountain of possibilities and followed your spiritual path until it led you here.

Yes, you heard me right. The path you chose to follow led you here. You and no one else, is responsible for where you’re standing right now. I don’t care how many maps you consulted. I don’t care how many other people you asked for directions, or how many people you followed or how many detours you took to get here. And don’t moan and groan about how it must be the path’s fault that you are in this precarious position. You are the one who was walking it. You’re the one who took that final step – the step that sent you over the edge.

You still remember it, don’t you, the moment when the path crumbled in front of you and you felt yourself falling over the edge of the cliff. But then you caught yourself, just barely caught yourself, a bare toe-hold here on this last ledge of sanity.

And so, here you stand, your back pressed against solid rock, the reality of what you’ve experienced so far, what you’ve encountered, as unarguably real as the stone beneath your fingers. In front of you the abyss awaits, its unknown depths holding unknown joys – or horrors, and the winds of change and circumstance keep threatening to loosen your hold on this last shred of reality. What’s worse, your hands are starting to sweat with nervousness (or is it excitement?) and you find your grip slipping by centimeters.

I bet you’d give anything for a rope right now, wouldn’t you?

And who knows, maybe if you wait long enough you’ll be able to get someone’s attention and they’ll send down a rope to help you up. Of course you might be waiting for a very long time.

And even if they did, where would you be? All the paths lead to this abyss – there’s no way to go further up without crossing it. You are to be commended actually, for having made it this far. So many people only follow the path until they find a comfortable place and then leave it to take up permanent residence.

You could, provided you are offered that rope, go back up to the top of the cliff and retrace your steps back down the mountain, or at least far enough down it so that you feel safe; undoing all the work of months, or years of searching. Or you could stay there at the top of the cliff, within view of the abyss. You could stay there and invent a nice reality for yourself, something that sounds probable, about how this is really the top of the mountain, or at least as far as we can expect to go in this lifetime.

Of course you could choose to remain where you are, teetering on the edge of sanity, worrying yourself to death about what is going to happen when the inevitable happens and you loose your grip and go plummeting into the depths.

Or, you can jump.

You can let go of your desperate finger hold on reality and step off into the unknown, trusting that the universe knows what it is doing or it wouldn’t have brought you here.

I guess what it all boils down to is one question:

How badly do you want it?

How badly do you want to know what lies at the summit?

How badly do you want to see the view from the top?

How badly do you want to remain trembling here on the brink, clinging to your last shreds of sanity and wondering what comes next?

So, you can wait for help.

Wait to fall.

Or jump.

Modern Day Messiahs

If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high you’d laugh and say nothing that simple, but you’ve been told many times before messiah’s point you to the door though no one’s got the guts to leave the temple.
~Pete Townshend

Saving the world is a thankless job. Ask any messiah and they’ll agree that it’s thankless, especially when no one believes in you.

They usually don’t.

In fact the level of their belief tends to fluctuate in direct proportion to what they want (or don’t want) to hear. So the belief level is especially low when the result of your deliverance is a vicious rearranging of their environment, beliefs, or thought processes.

In fact – they can get downright nasty when they think that you’ve worsened their situation or brought unnecessary chaos into their life.

Now here’s the rub…if you look at the word “messiah” what does it mean? Translated it literally means “deliverer” or “one who is expected to deliver.” But deliver what?

Usually the word is applied in the context of a person who is expected to do something to better a situation for a person or a group of persons, and has been adopted by the religious world to mean someone who delivers the world (or at least a group of people who adhere to the tenants of that particular religion) from evil.

But if you take it literally – a messiah could be anyone who takes you out of one situation and propels you into another – be it a better or worse one. Hey – they’ve delivered you from your situation, right? Who said that it had to be an improvement on your previous situation? They delivered you. End of story.

In some circles these people are called catalysts – because they bring about (or bring together – or attract) circumstances, people and even situations that bring about change (be it good or bad) in the lives of those they come in contact with.

It’s still a thankless job, for it still means change, and very few people welcome change so profound that it turns their world upside down. In fact, they will fight this change with every ounce of energy that they possess. They will struggle with their last breath to maintain the status quo; to keep themselves safe from the dangers of the unknown and when they go looking for a scapegoat; someone to blame their present set of circumstances on, a catalyst makes an ideal target, and believe me, there is more than one way to get crucified.
You find catalysts in the strangest places, and most often where you least expect them to be (that’s the whole point of a catalyst after all, to take people by surprise and shake them out of their routine). In fact, it takes most catalysts by surprise that they are catalysts. They can go for years (even a whole lifetime) without realizing who or what they are and may just assume that their life is naturally full of drama or chaos and that strange situation just gravitate to them for some unforeseen reason.

If you are a catalyst – a modern-day messiah -if you tend to attract those people, circumstances and situations that tend to change people’s lives, then you probably already know that you don’t really have control over who you influence; those people show up in your life whether you asked them in or not. You don’t even have control over the circumstances or situations that occur to enact the change. There is, however, one thing that you DO have control over, and that is how you view the kind of change that you enact.

If you keep a positive attitude and view those circumstances, situations and people that appear in your life in a positive manner, then you will tend to propel others into positive change (though they may at first view it as negative – since it IS a disruption of their status quo). If, however, you maintain a negative attitude and view the seeming chaos and disruptions as something to dread, then you will tend to propel those around you into anger and fear.

Of course in the end, it is the decision of the person you are affecting that will decide how they take the changes that have come into their lives; what they do with the things that they have learned. You could have been as upbeat as it is possible to be, and they still let the disruption to their way of life pull them down into despair and hopelessness at what they have lost.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to become attached to their decisions. You cannot help being who and what you are, and it is not your fault if the ones you influence decide that they cannot handle what you have shown them. If you’ve kept a positive attitude and tried to explain the changes as best you could; if you’ve shown the changes in the best possible light; you can rest assured knowing that no matter what the outcome, you did what you could.

And sometimes, for a modern day messiah, that has to be enough.

The Choice is Yours


We can talk about spirituality until we’re blue in the face, but until we do something about it, until we can find a way to incorporate it into our daily lives, all the knowledge that we have does us absolutely no good.  But how does one go about creating a spiritual life?

Let’s get one thing straight here – when I talk about creating a spiritual life, I’m not talking about getting religion, or channeling messages, or giving up on reality in order to pursue some idealistic goal of utopia.

When I talk about creating a spiritual life, I’m talking about blazing a way; creating and adhering to an inner path that will enable you to discover the very deepest essence of yourself and live a completely authentic life.  There’s just one problem, there is only one way for this to work, and that is if you integrate your spirituality into every aspect of your being.

You can’t just dabble in spirituality whenever it feels good.  In order for it to truly work you have to LIVE it, 24/7. Does that mean that you can no longer have fun and get the giggles and just kick back and enjoy life?  Of course not!  But in order for it to work you have to be committed 100%.  The aspect of integrating your spirituality with your daily life has to be your top priority, and most importantly, it needs to be YOUR spirituality and YOU have to want it.

It can’t be done for someone else; as a reaction to someone putting pressure for you; not if it is going to work for you.

It can’t be someone else’s definition of what is right for you; it has to be what speaks to you and feeds your soul.

If you are truly interested in creating a spiritual life for yourself, then you have to stop dabbling and immerse yourself in your chosen method of spirituality, and when it comes to deciding which is right for you there are, quite frankly, only three options available for you to choose from at this point in time; either you will find your way by adhering to a tradition that is already laid out, or you will choose to blaze your own way to your destination, or you will choose to stay exactly where you are and be content with the level of spirituality that you now have.

Option #1:  Some may find their way in a time-honored tradition; the rites and sacred writings of a particular religious path may speak to them on a deep fundamental level, and that is good. Better than good actually, because you have generations – centuries even of people who have gone before, who have asked the hard questions and have offered up their wisdom to share with you on adhering to this particular path.  They will still encounter great difficulties as they travel their path, as they discover things about themselves and face up to some difficult decisions, but they will have the comfort of knowing that others have tread this path before them; and others are treading it now; that they are not alone.

Option #2:  Others, however, may need to blaze their own trail; create their own path.  Their road will be much more difficult for them, for while there have been plenty who have made their own paths, it is most likely that no one has ever gone quite the same way before.  They are alone; their only companions being those others who have also decided on being their own pathfinders and who, for however brief a period, find themselves keeping company together.  The one who blazes their own trail does not ‘dabble’ in spirituality, but instead moves ever forward, letting each topic lead them to the next and adding to their own tradition as they grow and learn and become.

Option #3:  Yes, choosing not to choose is a viable option.  You can elect to stay exactly where you are, to not pursue a spiritual life but to simply accept what is given to you, and that is okay too.  It is understandable that you may have found your equilibrium; the point at which you feel that you are balanced and which works for you.  If so, I applaud you.  Very few people ever reach that point in their lives.  But if you are staying where you are out of fear of the unknown; out of the fear of not stepping outside of your comfort zone, then you are, in fact, electing to remain ignorant of your true depth and potential.  Even if you elect to stay, know that you always have the option of moving on, of pursuing a course of study later, when you are ready.

Regardless of whether you choose a traditional or non-traditional path, know that it is going to take dedication and commitment.  There are going to be days when you feel like just curling up in a ball and not thinking about anything but some crazy show on TV and how good your hot chocolate tastes, and there’s going to be days when you just want to get silly and have fun and not think about anything serious, and that’s fine.  But committing yourself to a spiritual path; choosing to live a spiritual life; choosing to live an authentic life is not something you can turn on and off at will; something that you do when you feel like it, for once you have started down your road, you begin to change.

In fact, over time it becomes who you ARE, and you have to be prepared for the fact that it is going to turn your entire world inside out and upside down.  Chances are your life is never going to be the same again.

The Road Less Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

~~Robert Frost ~~