Asceticism is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced throughout history as way to deny the self and feel closer to the Divine.
For early Christians, the ascetic practices were as diverse as their understanding of Jesus Christ. For some, it was living in monasteries with a strict spiritual discipline, for others it was living on tall pillars in the midst of a community, and for some others it was imitating Christ through martyrdom.
Today a spiritual practice often has to do with a desire to feel connected. Feeling connected to nature, to people, or to God.
For some, spiritual practice may include prayer or fasting, for others it might be yoga and mindfulness, for others it might be community and social justice. Perhaps ones spiritual practice may include elements of all of these things.
I find a consistent spiritual practice and discipline that allows me to become more aware of my thinking, what is happening in my consciousness, to be essential. Am I entertaining doubts or fears? Am I buying into materialism or commercialism? Am I having God-centered thinking? Maintaining balanced thinking is essential to keeping us healthy, happy, and purposeful.
A spiritual practice can help one discipline thought by becoming more conscious of the Mind of Christ or divine inspiration. This divine Mind is always communicating that we are blessed, we are spiritual, we are healthy, we are whole, we are loved. God sees and knows who we absolutely are. God is holding you in spiritual peace and divine perfection right now. Seeing beyond matter to the deeper spiritual sense of things helps us see and know a concrete being that is spiritual, perfect, and harmonious.
This is a metanoia experience, a change in consciousness, a healing. It satisfies and has healthy side effects (such as better relationships, improved self esteem, a greater connection to the Divine, and discernment of the Holy Spirit).
Developing a spiritual practice that enables one to be mindful and aware of God, keeping watch over our own consciousness is a great protection to us; it maintains our bodies (since our bodies are inextricably linked to our consciousness); and gives us spiritual renewal and freshness to keep up with the daily demands whether they be parenting, working, or volunteering.
At the end of the day, I like to wrap up the day with gratitude. Being grateful for every little thing — the sunlight. The wind in the trees. The smile of a family member. A feeling that God is with me. Whatever it may be. Wrapping up our day in gratitude shuts down the mental cycle of to-do lists. It stills and quiets thought.
Forgiveness is key, too. Practicing forgiveness for any slights you may have felt that day. These can be subtle (or overt) and we don’t want to let them build up. So simply letting go of any hurts or things that may have rubbed you the wrong way. Getting ready to start the new day with freshness.
A spiritual practice is a wonderful thing to cultivate. It is a gift. It is the perfect way to care for yourself and, thereby, to bless others. It will give you the insight, freedom, love, and joy you need to feel sustained throughout the day and the years.