Asceticism and spiritual practice

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.

Spiritual freedom

Affirming what is true about you paves the way for transformation. What is true? The truth that God has given you: health, fearlessness, purpose, dominion, supply, thoughtfulness, awareness, self-control, confidence, unselfish love and affection.

When I pray, I usually listen for what is true and affirm and accept these truths. This is a way for the human mind to yield to the Divine Mind. But what makes this prayer even bigger and more potent is when we see these truths are true for everyone in our community and our world.

Then you are acknowledging that God is so much bigger.

The spiritual gifts that God bestows are for EVERYONE. It is universal. Everyone is included and not one is left out of God’s goodness.

The universal reign of harmony is for everyone. If it’s true for you, it’s true for everyone. If it’s true for everyone, then it’s true for you.

Recognizing that God’s law is ever present and is actively blessing us gives us security, confidence, and hope. We aren’t making the law of health and happiness happen; we are simply recognizing this law exists and witnessing it in our lives.

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to negate anything which God does not ordain.

So, affirm your dominion and live freely today!

God answers prayer 

Have you ever asked God for some thing? We probably all have or at least in our heart’s desire wished for some thing.

I’ve found that when I ask for something in particular, what I really need is the understanding that God has already made you and me spiritually, perfectly, complete, free from sin or suffering. My prayer wakes me up to this fact. I gain a conscious awareness, a divine communion, with the spiritual facts of being. The underlying spiritual substance, if you will.

Christ comes to awaken us to see and know how God sees and knows. This is a moment by moment awakening and comes through deep consecration and communion with God — putting off the old self and ways and putting on the new self made in the image and glory of God. This selfhood radiates, shines and reflects the goodness, nature, beauty, poise, and power of God. It is humble, kind, and meek. It doesn’t hurt or tarnish.

So when you ask God for something, as I have, you may not always get the thing you asked for — the relationship, the house, the job. I remember two different times when I asked God for a specific thing — to marry my boyfriend and to move to a particular location. Neither worked out. Why?

Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.1

My desires needed to be molded and exalted. I needed to see the substance of what I needed was actually spiritual — love and peace — which I thought would come from these two particular things: my boyfriend and this one place.

when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you…your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!2

God already knows what we need, so God doesn’t necessarily need to be reminded. We are benefited by study and prayer because we become more aware of God’s perfection and goodness through the inspiration we receive, so we can trust and remind ourselves that God is already maintaining, sustaining us with all we need, and loving us.

Sometimes we need help to awaken to this consciousness, so that we can experience health, steady supply, purpose, and better relationships. We can ask for someone to pray with us, a friend, Pastor, or church community. When receptive hearts come together to listen for what God sees and does, blessings unfold.

1 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 1
2 Matthew 6:6, 8 New Living Translation