August 2005


Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World
by Jennifer N. Ayers

 

For those of us who ascribe to the tenets of spiritual faith, we believe that life is spirit and that our physical bodies are temporary vehicles by which we experience life on this plane. We know that this physical body is transitory and imperfect, having the limitations imposed upon it by the physical world. We are subject to age, gravity, disease, injury and genetics. We have succumbed to accepting that our environment is absolute reality because that is all we know. This limited frame of reference in which we must practice the art of living confines us to a way of thought whereas we are not always seeing “the big picture,” let alone living in the context of the greater absolute reality which remains beyond our comprehension.

For those of us who attend church, retreats, or any other organized gatherings where religious ritual is practiced, it is often easy to express our spiritual selves without restraint in those surroundings. A purposefully uplifting atmosphere makes it very conducive to express our higher selves. However, what happens to our greater vision when we are stuck in rush hour traffic after a hard day at work? Or when we are trying to watch the evening news while the kids are bickering incessantly? Do we view our fellow humankind as images of the Divine even when they are honking their car horns outside our homes at 3 a.m.? Is it possible to elevate ourselves above the situations which affect us? Can we live our lives at a higher vibration than that of the world which attempts to contain us? I believe it is both the goal and the challenge of spirituality for us to learn how to rise above and break free from the shackles of this earthbound existence.

Therein is posed the age-old question of how one goes about living “in the world” while not being “of the world”. Learning to live a spiritually authentic life takes practice. It is imperative that one strengthens their spirit through consistently practicing spiritual exercises. Prayer, study, meditation, reflection, creativity and being aware at all times of our true nature encourages spiritual growth and development. By immersing ourselves in inspirational activities and environments, we are able to maintain a higher level of spiritual awareness which we are able to sustain even in non-spiritually-conducive situations.

Like any healthy habit, our spiritual life needs to be fed and nourished reliably and without fail. We make choices each day, each moment, which contribute to the nourishment or malnourishment of our souls. By living in the moment, realizing that the eternal moment of now is all there is, and making sound choices based on each present moment, we can alter our consciousness. Living a spiritually authentic life is often times like rowing against the current of the great river of conformity which is the world. It is not easy and it doesn’t always seem to be the most natural or comfortable direction to go with our lives. This is the challenge of elevating ourselves above and beyond our human nature. However, the eternal and momentary rewards are out of this world.

Nourishing our spiritual selves includes not only making choices about what activities we choose to participate in and which environments we choose to surround ourselves with, but it also involves the music we listen to, the books we read, the art we view, the food we eat, and the people we associate with. Consider that everything we take into ourselves via our sensory input feeds our minds and bodies and spirits. Making healthy and uplifting choices about these things is essential to our spiritual health. If you haven’t already, strive to make more edifying choices like incorporating daily exercise into your lifestyle, integrating organic whole foods into your diet, and spending at least 30 minutes a day dedicated to prayer and meditation. Not only will you feel more physically revitalized, but spiritually renewed as well.

Making a commitment to live your life in a way that glorifies the Creator may be difficult to uphold, especially when it goes against the cultural grain. Yet, the effort is minuscule compared to the returns you receive from such a worthy investment. When you intently live a spiritually-enriched life, you will have an inherent peace about you, knowing that no matter what catastrophe strikes, it is only a momentary glitch that was part of the predestined plan for your life, and how you navigate through the murky waters of adversity offers you another opportunity for making enlightened choices. Prioritizing your spirit will allow you to have an underlying contentment for you will be able to see with eyes wide open not only the here and now, but also the ever after. Seeing beyond our current, limited frame of reference gives us a firm, absolute point of reference, an eternal perspective, and the ability to be a person of spirit, even in a material world.

 

©2005 Starr-Rhapsody Creations.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be copied or reproduced without permission of the author.

 

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