I love the approach that Jonathan Ellerby, PhD has to developing a spiritual practice, because he doesn’t try to fit everyone into the same mold. We are all unique, not only in our nutritional needs, but in our spiritual needs as well.
As Jonathan so eloquently puts it, “Everyone has their own “spiritual personality” that drives them naturally to be drawn to one thing or another. Deeper than all the roles, expectations and preconceived ideas you have accepted from others, is a natural knowledge of what you uniquely find inspiring, restoring and meaningful. Your spiritual personality reflects your “true self:” your soul, your basic spiritual nature. The only thing that defines a spiritual practice’s worth is whether it works for you or not – whether it helps to become free in heart, mind, and spirit. It should truly connect you to the qualities you seek: love, trust, connection to Higher Power and grace in the flow of life.”
Jonathan has identified six different aspects that help construct the spiritual personality that are influenced by a variety of factors, such as what we came with when we were born, as well as what our experiences have been. They are designed to help you get in touch with who you are and how you function best:
- Trust your unique personality/style and intuition. When do you feel yourself light up? What motivates you? You inherently know what to do when you need healing and at what points in your life you need growth. Trust what comes up.
- Where do you feel most connected? Is it in people? In nature? In places of worship?
- Identify your orientation. Is there a particular religion that you agree with or are you agnostic? — or maybe neither.
- What is your social style? Do you thrive in a community or in solitude?
- What is your ‘Foundational Preference’? This can be categorized into 4 spiritual personalities. Basically, what is the style of practice that naturally appeals to you the most? It most likely will be a combination:
- Body-Centered Practice: Are you a body person—do you experience life best and learn best through touch — are you kinesthetic? Best practices for you may include tai chi, qi gong, walking meditation, dancing, etc.
- Mind-Centered Practice: Are you a mind person—do you like to think things through — do you like reading, analyzing, or problem solving? You might be better suited with quiet meditation, prayer, or sacred study.
- Heart-Centered Practice: Are you an emotional person—do you like to feel something while you’re going through it? Maybe practicing music or listening to music while meditating will resonate with you.
- Soul-Centered Practice: Or are you a soul person, is your fixation always on the spirit level?
- What is your Freedom Factor? What path or practice do you avoid the most or find challenging? Choosing to practice your ‘Freedom Factor’ is what helps you move to the next stage of development. In the words of Jonathan, “Following your spiritual personality is not the same as doing what is easy or comfortable…always be careful of the ego and always be willing to try a practice outside your area of strength and preference.”
The goal, when creating a spiritual practice for yourself is to pay attention to your natural pulls and longing. There is no right or wrong method.
Take time to write down the answers to these questions and get clear on what is your spiritual personality. And then create a daily (5-15 min), weekly (~2 hours), and seasonal practice that honors your unique style. For example, your practice might include:
- Daily – deep breathing, journaling, evening walk, free form dancing, etc.
- Weekly – yoga, massage, a spiritual service, dance class, gardening, relaxing bath, etc.
- Seasonally – a retreat, a cleanse, clearing the physical clutter…
If interested in learning more read an interview with Jonathan Ellerby at http://www.soundstrue.com/podcast/transcripts/jonathan-ellerby.php?camefromhome=camefromhome or visit him at www.jonathanellerby.com.