If you feel called to explore the spiritual side of life, you are probably wondering where to start.
Should you crack open the latest book by Eckhart Tolle, watch some more YouTube videos or go to a meditation retreat?
These are my thoughts on 16 easy ways to start your spiritual journey.
1) ‘You can only start from where you are’
The first thing I have to say here is some very good news.
You’re already on your spiritual journey.
It started when you were born.
There is no plateau or vista you need to reach before you can start your journey. You can only continue on from where you are now, and the spiritual journey is not an ascension or even a transcendence.
It’s actually a coming down into real life and greater touch with the reality of yourself and your existence, rather than an abstraction or fugue from it.
The spiritual teacher Sadhguru has an insightful video on this subject, noting that
“You can only start from where you are…
Don’t try to start anywhere. There is nothing to start.
Already, long ago, it’s been started.”
Here’s the thing:
If you’re reading this article it’s because you’re already well on the way on your journey.
What you’re really looking for are signposts along the path, markers to indicate where you go with this journey.
What do you do with the burning questions inside you that want to know the truth?
What do you do with the strong emotions that tell you there has to be more than just this material life?
What do you do with the dreams, visions and intense experiences that have led you to know there is a deeper core to life that goes beyond the mere physical?
This article is here to give you some signposts.
But never forget that you’re already on this spiritual journey and that your quest is not linear or directional, it’s experiential.
And the essence of the beauty is contained in the process, not the result.
2) You’re longing to grow, but how?
As Sadhguru notes in his seminar above, what we want, no matter how “misguided,” is still part of a spiritual process.
For example, if you feel the desire to become very wealthy, make no mistake:
That’s a desire to be something more or transcending what you currently are.
It’s a desire to grow, and to gain power and leverage in this world.
It’s born from a spiritual impulse, but has been clouded by ego and by fixation on the material.
“All these are spiritual processes, but they’re going in the wrong direction, that’s all,” Sadhguru explains. “You’re unconsciously conducting a spiritual process.”
But whatever it is that you want, you need to get in touch with this desire to be more, to learn more, to transcend to more.
This instinct is the engine of your spiritual journey that’s already underway.
Regardless of how it’s currently manifesting, you need to get in touch with this energy.
Specifically: the energy of a desire to create and grow.
This brings us to the next point in easy ways to start your spiritual journey…
3) What does your heart truly want?
Earlier I wrote about the key importance of self-awareness.
Knowing what you want is important, but in order to truly know, you need to get our of your head.
Overthinking won’t tell you what you truly want at a deep soul level, and neither will temporary emotions.
This is where it’s necessary to connect with a deeper heart energy.
Be quiet and reflect on what’s going on beneath your outer emotions.
What is burning inside you:
A desire for connection with others, with yourself, with nature?
What images come to mind as you connect with this inner sense of self in your heart?
The heart is not just about desire or shallow wanting, it’s about a deeper, spiritual wanting that transcends ego.
Sit and get in touch with your heart on a deep level and see what it tells you.
The more self-aware you become, the more you progress in your spiritual journey.
This is all part of a process that is about becoming more conscious.
“There are a myriad of reasons why people enter the spiritual journey, many of them stories created by the mind to build a better looking ego.
“But beneath the desires of the mind, what does your heart want?”
4) Question your assumptions
This isn’t always easy, but it’s a key part of any spiritual journey.
This involves questioning your beliefs and assumptions about what’s true, and even about who you are.
Who is the real you?
How much of who you believe you are has been socially constructed or formed through social and cultural conditioning?
How many of your beliefs are just echoes of other people’s experiences and narratives rather than your own?
Are you living life as an original, or have you been deceived into living as a photocopy of somebody else?
We all want to live a life of meaning and purpose.
We all want to feel satisfied at the end of a long day.
We all try our best to be authentic.
But what if you’re reading off lines from somebody else’s script without even realizing it?
It’s very necessary to start your spiritual journey by taking a real look at who you really are and the origin and impact of the beliefs that are motivating you.
“You must be willing to look at everything that you believe in and ask yourself if it is really true.
You may begin to view the world in a new light when you are able to question your ideas,” notes Jelena Kabić.
Now we move on to some practical ways that you can begin to come even more in touch with your spiritual side and spiritual journey…
5) Create a spiritual space
The first of the easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to create a spiritual space.
Choose somewhere in your home or yard and make it a kind of sacred space or grotto.
You can put religious or spiritual items that are important to you in this area and keep it as a place to meditate, pray and relax.
Architecture and the spaces we spend time in have a major impact on our mental health and spiritual development, which is why this is a great place to start your spiritual journey.
“Select an area in your home to turn into your sacred morning space. This can be a den, nook, garage, or a dedicated corner; size doesn’t matter but privacy does.
“This area is just for you!”
6) Start meditating
First up in easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to start the practice of daily meditation.
It doesn’t have to be long, and it’s simple.
Sit comfortably for ten minutes and follow your breath.
Breathe in calmly through your nose and then exhale twice as long through your mouth.
Repeat this and allow any thoughts and emotions to come and go, observing them without judgment.
If you practice daily meditation, even for a short time, you’ll begin to notice that you experience a greater sense of clarity, focus and self-control.
Some also find that fasting can bring great spiritual benefits as well, and combining fasting with meditation in moderate amounts can be an ideal approach as well.
Many times, our heart’s desire and true motives in life become clouded by our temporary desires of the flesh, and meditation, fasting and prayer are all age old ways of beginning to get in touch with our essence instead of just our momentary impulses.
7) Start reading
Next up in easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to start reading books that open your mind and get you thinking.
I personally have many writers who I find inspiring on spiritual matters, and not overly complex.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a classic spiritual text about the life of Buddha, and others like Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, or Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now can also be very good places to start.
Keep your reading short and sweet. Roll around the ideas and emotions a bit.
Remember that you don’t need to become some kind of spiritual genius overnight.
This is all about your journey and introducing yourself to deep concepts slowly and at your own pace.
While you are beginning your spiritual journey, it’s important not to jump all at once.
While you may find yourself eager and very ready to explore all sorts of new things, make sure to keep a bit of skepticism about what (and who) you find on your fledgling spiritual journey.
Which brings me to my next point…
8) Spend more time in nature
The next of the easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to spend more time in nature.
If you live near a beautiful place, take a short walk and breathe in the great outdoors.
Walk along by the river, or sit on the ground and contemplate a mountain. Feel the breeze on your skin and the sunshine on your shoulders.
Listen to the chirping of birds and the whine of insects and sounds of animals.
There’s no replacement for nature. It links us up with who we are and gets us in touch with spiritual forces.
“Nature plays a big role in spiritual journeys. After all, it’s the Earthly manifestation of otherworldly forces. Connecting with nature is akin to bonding with universal energy,” writes Barrie Davenport.
9) Listen to music that speaks to your soul
The next of the easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to listen to music that speaks to your soul.
It may be heavy metal, classical or folk music. It could be electronic or acoustic.
Just listen to music that stimulates you on a deeper level and gets you feeling alive and conscious.
Allow your soul to travel through the melody and come to a place or being fully in the present moment.
Let the music wash over you and become part of you, almost in a trance state.
A lot of spiritual development happens from listening to music, which truly is the universal language.
And it’s a great way to begin your spiritual journey and deepen your connection with yourself and the cosmos.
10) Do the five senses exercise
The next of the easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to do the five senses exercise.
The way to do this is fairly simple, and highly effective in centering you in your body and bringing you into greater self-awareness and consciousness in the present moment.
Here’s how you do it:
- Look around you and name five things that you can see within your field of vision. Pay attention to detail and think about the appearance and its subtleties, colors and any emotions it brings up in you.
- Next up, name four things you can touch. Maybe you’re sitting in nature and can touch the earth next to you and the rocks.
- Next you want to pay attention to three things you can hear. The sounds may be subtle or even far away, but listen to any subtleties of what they are.
- Next name two things you can smell. The smells may be faint, but try your best to specify what they are and describe them as well as how they make you feel.
- Lastly, name one thing you can taste. Maybe it’s an aftertaste of a chocolate bar you ate an hour ago. If there’s nothing to taste, have something with you like some juice and give it a taste when you get to this step!
11) Watch your back (spiritually)
It’s hard to have a spiritual journey of any real meaning if you’re not highly self-aware.
Self-awareness comes from learning who you really are underneath all the masks and layers of social conditioning.
As you start out on your spiritual journey, you may find many catchy videos and slogans that get your attention.
The answer is not to just turn straight to the nearest charismatic guru who tells you how to find inner peace.
Many times, people starting out on their spiritual journey turn to low-quality guides who mislead and misuse them.
As the shaman Rudá Iandé teaches in his free masterclass on how to free your mind, much of New Age spirituality is full of scammers and arrogant people who mislead others.
This is particularly true in the Law of Attraction and “vibrations” school of thought, which tends to be full of people who believe they’re superior to religious ideology and have found the “secret” to inner peace and strength.
The secret is to be so positive and full of life that you manifest your ideal future and attract positive things your way.
Anything negative is something you brought onto yourself, even if only subconsciously.
Well, it’s total bullshit.
12) The truth about mindset and positivity
Here’s the thing:
Of course it’s true that mindset is powerful and our expectations and inner reality has a huge influence on outer reality.
But you don’t manifest reality. Reality exists and you interact with it and respond to it.
You don’t subconsciously create cancer due to bad vibes, or lose your wife because you were angry at your dad growing up.
That isn’t how real life works.
Instead, when you are searching for answers in your spiritual journey, it’s the ideal opportunity to free your mind from social conditioning and narratives like the Law of Attraction.
This is the time to do an inventory of what spiritual beliefs you have inside and how they’re impacting you.
Many times we inherit very deep beliefs about life and reality from our earliest years that we’re barely even aware of.
Getting sucked into shady spiritual groups and under the tutelage of sleazy gurus can often happen when our own insecurity and search for answers gets hijacked.
Gurus who are unscrupulous will take that feeling of innocent questioning and gaslight you about it, telling you that you need to pay them or do other things in order to rid yourself of your impurity or ignorance.
The result? Disempowerment, repression, self-hate.
You feel “not good enough” and you succumb to somebody else’s frame who may not have your best interests at heart.
Instead, this feeling of wanting to start your spiritual journey is a chance to connect with the divine, to find truth and authenticity and to get rid of counterproductive ideas which may have found their way into your spiritual path.
That’s why I recommended the video from Rudá earlier, because he connects you up to a much different way of looking at spirituality and positivity.
His way is much more freeing, empowering and authentic than a lot of the “pop spirituality” you’re likely to come across near the start of your spiritual journey.
13) Assess your connections
Friendships, family ties and romantic partnerships are all important parts of life.
We are often defined by those we spend the most time with and have deep affection for.
A big part of the spiritual journey is to assess your connections.
But unlike an assessment that would look at how much you like them, their business or material value or even how “nice” they are, this assessment is about the strength of your spiritual ties with those close to you.
In other words, are you part of a spiritual tribe? Or are you marooned?
Do those in your life stimulate your deepest curiosity and existential wonder, or do they leave you feeling lost and looking for engagement they can’t provide?
If you find that your connections are spiritually deep, explore even further and invite these people to talk with you and share with you about their journey.
If you find that your connections are spiritually lacking, look to meet up with some new friends and individuals (in addition to the people already in your life) to explore these things with.
I’m not suggesting to dump everyone who’s not on your wavelength: we learn a lot through conflict and even alienation.
But it can be very empowering and rewarding to link up with folks who are on the same page as you.
This brings me directly to the next advice about what to do as you start out on your spiritual journey…
14) Meet other spiritual people
The next of the easy ways to start your spiritual journey is to link up with other spiritual people.
This may sound kind of vague, so to be more specific, you can:
- Join online groups and social media groups about spirituality.
- See if your local rec center or library has any spiritual or meditation groups.
- Go to a spiritual seminar or retreat in your area (or somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel that has a spiritual event).
- Start or join a book club centered on discussing and talking about spiritual books.
There’s no replacement for real people.
Meeting them online is a great way to make contact, but eventually bringing this into the real world is ideal.
Meeting others who are also interested in spirituality will enrich your life enormously.
That’s because sometimes a spiritual awakening can be painful and make you feel alone.
Realizing that you’re not alone and that there are others who share your experiences and questions is a huge relief and very empowering!
The path ahead
Everyone’s spiritual journey is different.
Even within the same religious or spiritual tradition, each person has his or her own experiences, breakthroughs, crises and interpretations.
We all have our own relation to the spiritual side of life or what we conceive of as the divine.
The path ahead follows no formula.
The quest to free the mind looks a bit different for every person.
Take the above pointers into account, and remember that every experience in life can bring you value and lessons if you let it.