Have you ever had a spiritual experience in an unusual circumstance? Maybe you have felt closer to a higher power while scaling a mountain or learned something about your true calling while traveling in an impoverished country. If you are seeking a spiritual awakening, you know that it is hard to make enlightenment happen. You may sign up for a retreat, but be so focused on having an epiphany that you miss out on the opportunities that are presented to you.
In our experience, attachment is the enemy of fostering a spiritual experience. In most cases, you can’t say “Ready, Set, Go!” and receive divine inspiration. You may be feeling let down by your usual routines. If attending a religious service or even your own private practice is leaving you feeling unfulfilled, you might want to consider some of these unusual alternatives.
- Immerse yourself in nature
- Maybe sitting knee-to-knee with dozens of fellow worshippers isn’t giving you the
- Help others
- that you are seeking. Finding solitude in nature is a great way to get a realistic perspective on your place on the planet. Standing before natural wonders like a towering redwood or a roaring waterfall, you can’t help but to experience awe at the magnificence of creation. Maybe a humbling, solitary experience like this one is exactly what you’re craving.
It’s easy to take what we have for granted in our everyday lives and to get caught up in material things: the car, the house, how much we have saved up for our dream vacation. Helping those in need is a great way to alter your consciousness and let go of some of the mundane thoughts that may be blocking you from your spiritual goals. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping build a home for someone who has suffered as a result of a natural disaster will wake you up like nothing else can. When you stop the chatter about yourself, you may discover that your purpose is to serve others in some capacity. Seeing the suffering of others up close may change the way you view the world or even how you will act within your religious community.
- Spend time with animals
Having you ever considered diving with whales? Do you get all warm and tingly whenever you spend time with your friend’s cat or dog? Don’t discount the non-human beings in your life when trying to have a spiritual experience. The trusting nature of a friendly pet or observing the majesty of a pride of lions on a safari may just be the catalyst for your spiritual awakening. We can learn a lot from the other creatures with whom we share this planet. Book a trip to interact with dolphins or whales, follow the migration of birds or animal herds or just volunteer at your local animal shelter. You’d be surprised how your mind and heart may expand.
Many people find themselves experiencing epiphanies in ways that are creative or artistic. Consider meditating on what is going on in your life, then letting your hands follow your thoughts as you paint or model a work of modern art. Perhaps writing a song about your mixed-up feelings will lead you to a poetic answer to your deepest questions. In splattering paint against a canvas without judgment, you may and remember what it was like to look at the universe with the innocence of a child. Sign up for an art class at your local community center or try your hand at an old hobby that you used to enjoy. Many people believe that artistic creation is inspired by the muses—perhaps those muses will provide some insight into your spiritual questions through the act of creation.
- Journal your thoughts
Many people find stream-of-consciousness writing to be like a kind of meditation, which can reveal to the writer their innermost thoughts and the answers that they have hidden away within their own psyches. Many find journaling to act as a cathartic release of the insecurities and fears that are holding them back. Break out a stack of paper and a pen and write for an hour without stopping. Don’t edit yourself, even if you have to write “I don’t know what to say,” (or even “This is stupid,”) for a page or two, if you are open-minded and let the momentum build, this can be an unusual but effective way to have a spiritual experience.
- Go somewhere new
As usual, we are huge proponents of the incredible power of travel. Completely leaving behind the familiar culture, landscape and people at home can release you and challenge you as a spiritual being. In the Victoria and Albert museum in London, a Greek statue may give you chills at the soul level. On the shore of the river Seine, you may look up from your lunch and notice that being away from your desk has made you happier than you have felt in years. Open your mind up to the world and it will offer you countless different ways to understand yourself, your purpose, even the universe around you.
Don’t stop here! Challenge yourself to see any situation as an opportunity to grow and tap into your spirituality—no matter how unorthodox it may seem. Don’t deny the little voice in the back of your mind while you are sitting at a family reunion to open your heart to an unruly relative or the call of the mountains as you drive to and from work. Allow these unusual experiences to be spiritual and you may just find that you don’t need to seek out or create the perfect circumstances – enlightenment may find you.