You may be like many today who call themselves spiritual rather than religious. You have lost trust in religion. You no longer see the relevance of faith communities.
You may be among the many who have wandered away from religious institutions and still hunger for mystery, interconnectedness, hope, and community.
Yes, you can have a deep relationship with God without ever entering a church or synagogue or mosque. The advantage of being a part of a faith community is that you have people to support you on the journey.
The word God means many things for different people. So, for us to have a conversation about God here is the language I am using.
God has many names. You might prefer a name such as father, mother, or friend because you can picture whey they look like. You may prefer a more mystical name such as light, spirit, wind, or oneness that help you understand God as something more than you can imagine.
You need to choose the name or names that work best for you. The names you give for the holy may change over time.
Here are seventeen ways to connect to God without religion:
1. Love Yourself:
Learning to love yourself is an important place to start. You are probably like most people who are hard on themselves. You are hard on yourself because your inner critic is at work trying to keep you safe – keeping you stuck in the limitations of your ego.
You need to remind yourself that you are human and part of being human is to have flaws. Your flaws make you uniquely you.
Loving yourself is not about being self-righteous. It is about recognizing that the spirit resides in you. It is all about you acknowledging that you have value just for being you.
As you become more comfortable in your skin, you will naturally start to take better care of yourself because you know deep within you that you are woman or man or God.
Being on the spiritual journey does not mean you won’t have hard days. It just means that you will get through those rough days a little easier.
As you love yourself more, you will strengthen your ability to love others especially the people who drive you crazy
2. Slow down:
You live in a crazy world. Even though you have the technology to simplify your life it has given you the illusion you can do more. In the end, your life is much busier.
Connecting with God requires you to slow down to notice what the spirit is saying to you. The spirit speaks to you through your quiet mind, the emotions of your heart and the sensations of your body. The spirit also talks to you through the people you meet and through the experiences you have in life.
To slow down requires you to take time to do nothing. It might just be sitting and having a cup of coffee and looking out the window. It might be enjoying a long bubble bath. It might be spending time in your garden planting, weeding or harvesting.
When you are feeling tired, permit yourself to take an afternoon nap. Your body will let you know when you need to take a break.
3. Practice Radical Gratitude:
When practicing radical gratitude every day, your heart changes. It is taking time every day to notice what you are thankful for such as having a warm home to live in, the gift of friendship, plenty of food, good health – many things that you take for granted.
It is hard to be miserable and mean when you are feeling thankful. The world looks like a more caring and beautiful place when you take the time to be grateful for your many blessings.
Meditation is any practice that helps you to quiet your mind and open it to God. Meditation is all about learning to listen to the holy within you.
There is no wrong or right way to meditate. Most of the great religious traditions have practices that can help you to do this. In Christianity, Father Thomas Keating has brought back the ancient tradition of contemplation through Centering Prayer.
In Centering Prayer, you don’t need to empty your mind. Thinking is the natural for the mind. In Centering Prayer, you want the thoughts to move by like the credits rolling by at the end of a movie. You only use the focus word or phrase to calm your mind when your mind gets caught in a thought. The goal is to practice this for twenty minutes twice a day.
Learn more about Centering Prayer: Click Here
I encourage you to experiment with different forms of meditation to find out what works best for you.
Prayer is like having a conversation with the holy. First, you need to quiet your mind and open your heart. You can do this in silence or spoken word. Over the centuries the great faith traditions have created different forms of prayer to guide you in your spiritual practices.
In the Christian tradition I am familiar with, there are prayers of praise, confession, forgiveness, healing, and more. Probably the most famous prayer of all is The Lord's Prayer. You might want to find the translation and version that you find most helpful.
Another favourite prayer in Christianity is The Jesus Prayer of Eastern Orthodox traditions. The words for this layer vary. The traditional words are: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
For more information on the Jesus Prayer: Click Here
There is no wrong or right way to pray. It is a conversation with God. It requires an open mind, body and heart.
You are meant to sing! It doesn’t matter how you sound. The important thing is that you sing from your heart. If you had a music teacher who told you, you couldn’t sing, ignore what they said.
When you sing a song that is meaningful to you, it connects you deeply to your heart. Singing can bring people together from a diversity of traditions. Singing can bring peace and justice to the world. Singing can change hearts in ways that words could never hope to do.
7. Smell the roses:
You need to slow down and notice what is going on around you. For example, when you go for a walk pay attention to the plants, trees, insects, birds, animals and people you see on your walk. There is beauty all around you if you pay attention.
Also, when you slow down you not only get in touch with the mystery of life around you, you are invited into your inner world.
When you immerse yourself in your inner world you discover a new dimension to your life. When you let go of the tension you begin to feel a lightness in your heart, and your mind will become a path to the wisdom of the universe.
8. Look directly into the eyes of the people you meet:
You have probably heard the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. If you want to connect with someone at the deepest level, you need to look directly into their eyes. When two people peers into each others’ eyes something surprising happens.
Not only do you see the person you are looking at, but you see the holy in them.
When you do this with another person all the walls that you have around yourself come tumbling down. For a moment the two of you become one. You not only become one with each other, but you become one with the universe.
It takes courage to do this because we have been taught to not look directly into the eyes of another person. Often we hide our true selves by avoiding eye contact.
9. Look for the goodness in each person you meet:
Every person has some good in them. Even the worst people in the world have a spark of God within them.
In our crazy world of today, there is much fear and distrust. Imagine how the world can be if instead of fearing those who are different than us, we look for the good in each person.
10. Practice random acts of kindness:
The truth is that kindness changes the world for the better. Whenever you do a random act of kindness, it quickly multiplies. One act of compassion can turn into many acts of kindness. One smile can increase into many smiles. One act of generosity can open the hearts of many to do more.
11. Find a cause that sparks your passion and energy for change:
The spirit has given you tasks to do in the world. Your heart will let you know when you have found your inspiration – something you want to do to make the world a better place.
The spirit will compel you to plant seeds of kindness, justice, compassion and love on your journey to transform the world one person at a time.
12. Practice love of neighbour:
Love your neighbour is one of Jesus greatest teachings. When I say neighbour, I mean any person in our world.
Love of neighbour requires you to see that of God in every person you meet. Love of neighbour needs you to consider the repercussion of our behaviour and choices on people on the other side of the world.
Love of neighbour calls upon you to learn how to resolve disputes non-violently. Love of neighbour means learning to get along with each other and sharing your resources.
13. Speak out for those on the fringes of society:
You are your brother or sister’s, keeper. When you stand up against oppression, violence, bigotry, racism, homophobia and other degrading behaviour you are reflecting the light of God.
You are not only reflecting the light of God you are connecting with the holy in another person.
14. Stand with those working for social justice, equality and peace:
There are many needs in the world. You can not do everything. But it is essential for you to understand how the work you are doing to make the world a better place connects with the work of others.
Part of your spiritual responsibility is to support each other in doing God’s work. God not only works with you individually but works in the community.
So, if you don't have a religious community to be part of it is essential to find some other group of help to help support, encourage you and challenge you on the journey.
15. Meet people who are different than you:
Often the only way to break stereotypes is to meet the people you fear. So, if you are not comfortable around people of the Muslim faith get to know a Muslim. If you don’t feel comfortable around a gay person get to know a gay person. If you are uncomfortable around an indigenous person to get to know one.
Often you will find God in the places that you least expect.
16. Stay curious to the world outside and within you:
Staying curious helps you to overcome fear. If you are an American stay curious as to why a person voted for Hillary or Trump. Curiosity allows you to maintain a friendship. It helps you to get beyond all the assumptions you made about another point of view. It helps you to see the humanity of another person. It helps you to recognize God within that person.
17. Stay inspired:
The world needs hope and inspiration. Staying connected to holy mystery through your inner wisdom, nature, animals and people can help you to see the world in new ways.
Staying inspired by the holy can help you to see the beauty in each person. It can help you to see there is another way out of the fear and greed you experience too often in the world.
Finding inspiration through your spiritual practices, practicing curiosity, listening to your inner wisdom can help to put you on a higher plane of consciousness.
Being on this higher plane of consciousness helps you to find ways to live that are in the highest interest of the whole world.
When you guided by the spirit, you get beyond the binary ways of the world and move into a new consciousness of non-duality which says there is always a third way to deal with the problems of the world.
Learn more about connecting with God in everyday life: Click Here
There are many ways to connect with God. You don’t need a religious institution to do this.
Finding a community to support, encourage and challenge you on your spiritual journey can be helpful. You can include in your community friends and family.
There are forms of spiritual practice from the great faiths of the world. You might want to research what they are. I suggest you start with what feels most familiar.
Not every practice you find will be appropriate for you. You also need to watch out for people wanting to take advantage of you. If you sense they are trying to manipulate you, I would leave.
In the end, you are the only person who is going to know if you are on the right path. If you have a family member is genuinely concerned about you, I would pay attention.
Here is what I use to discern if a path is right for me in answering these questions:
· Does it encourage me to honour, love and respect my self?
· Does it encourage me to reach beyond myself to improve the life of others?
· Does it encourage me to be my best?
· Does it encourage me to share my personal, emotional, spiritual and financial resources?
· Does it encourage me to befriend folks pushed to the fringes of society?
If you can say yes to most of these questions, then you are probably moving on the right path.
In the end, you need to do the work. It is like learning any new skill it takes time and practice. The seventeen suggestions I have mentioned give you an excellent place to start.
Spiritual work is life long. Over time you will notice a change in yourself. You need to be patient. Don’t try to do this alone.
Blessings on your journey.
I am, Roland Legge a Life Coach here to help you to connect with God. You can join my private newsletter list for Free Monthly Advice and get Your Free Enneagram Test and sign up for a Free 30 Minute Discovery Call with me in my Acuity Scheduling Calendar.