Practices That Increase Well-Being
Updated: Apr 12
Spirituality practices that can help your wellness.
Scientists have found a spiritual practice may boost our well-being
Meditation, pranayama, forgiveness, compassion, and gratitude are ways to increase well-being.
Spiritual practices done together may have more impact when practiced in a community.
Meditation practices refer to a broad collection of activities that seek to focus the mind. Really almost anything can be support for attention during meditation practice. For example, we can focus on our breathing, a meaningful mantra, a word of our choice, or a text that holds spiritual significance. It can also be done while peeling potatoes or during a long walk.
Pranayama - Controlled Breathing
When our lives seem chaotic and out of control, we can fall back on one thing we can control - our breath. Andrew discussed conscious breathing in another post, but it's worth reposting here.
"The mind is the ruler of all senses but the breath is the king of the mind."
Long Breath 4x8 Pranayama Technique
This type of breath uses the lungs' total capacity in both the inhalation and the exhalation, slowly, with no rush. It is generally done through the nose because it aids in breath control.
· Promotes increases in the flow of oxygen in the body, promoting healing and relaxation
· Helps to avert and reduce the build-up of toxins in the lungs.
· Stimulates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals, to fight depression.
· Expands the lung capacity, which builds concentration, patience, lung tissue flexibility, and resistance.
· Increases the secretion of the pituitary gland, the "Master Gland," which regulates hormone activity in other endocrine glands and organs.
How to perform this pranayama:
Sit comfortably. Soften your eyelids; start by noticing your normal breathing - just become aware of its pace and rhythm. Once your awareness is fixed on your breath, take a slow, even inhale through your nose as you count to four. Once you reach the count of four, exhale from your nose with that same evenness while counting to eight. That's one cycle. Start by trying to complete ten cycles before coming back to your normal breathing. Take a moment to notice any changes in your breathing from when you began. The long exhale may seem challenging at first
Forgiveness refers to a process of letting go of negative emotions and the urges to seek revenge or avoid another because of the pain they caused us. Importantly, forgiveness need not involve telling a person we forgive them, condoning or forgetting a hurtful action, or restoring a relationship.
From a spiritual perspective, we attempt to create loving kindness by saying, "May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness."
Devote yourself to what you call sacred.
Buddha regarded the understanding and action of compassion to be a prerequisite to enlightenment. Compassion means “to suffer with” or “to suffer together.”
Here are some simple ways to start.
Begin by finding compassion for yourself: "May I be free from suffering and the root of suffering"
Find compassion for a person or animal for whom you already have spontaneous compassion, like the clerk at the grocery store or the skittish neighborhood cat. "May (name) be free from suffering and the root of suffering."
Cultivate compassion for a friend. (Use the same words.)
Awaken compassion for someone whom you feel neutral towards.
Build compassion for someone you find difficult, like a work peer, boss, or anyone that might cause you stress or anxiety.
Continue cultivating compassion for all five beings above.
Awaken compassion for all beings throughout the universe, starting close to home and extending further and further: "May ALL be free from suffering and the root of suffering."
Our response is selfless.
Gratitude involves a recognition of the good in our lives and how that good comes from sources outside ourselves.
One tried-and-true gratitude practice is called “Three Good Things.” In this exercise, we pause to savor, share, or write about three good things in our day. As a part of this, we pause to appreciate and express thanks for the sources that made these good things possible.
The spiritual journey is one of self-discovery - the study of the Self is letting go of the Self. Scrubbing away. Recognizing your truth - beyond class, race, clothes, or cars. Discovering that you are enough.
This journey takes great faith, great doubt, and great determination.