People often think that a spiritual practice takes a lot of work and time and because of this they do not pursue or maintain it. The reason a spiritual practice may seem daunting is because there’s an erroneous idea floating in many heads that spirituality needs to be scheduled, practiced on a mat or yoga studio, ritualized, and so on and so on. The phrase spiritual practice is a misnomer of sorts because the idea behind a spiritual practice is to incorporate everything you learn from it into all aspects of your life. To clear up the confusion and alleviate the burden that many feel, there needs to be a shift from thinking of having a spiritual practice to having a spiritual life.
So what is a spiritual practice? For me, a spiritual practice is something like yoga. Yoga is a mind, body, spirit practice that requires consistency in schedule (in other words, regularly practicing yoga) and a designated space to practice. Yoga has many layers of wisdom and usability. For some, it is just another form of exercise, while for others it is a component of an overall lifestyle that includes elements like meditation, sometimes a specific diet, etcetera. Defining a spiritual practice comes down to how integrated your practice’s teachings are in your life.
When we say spiritual practice, there is an implied separation between your everyday life and whatever it is you do to meet your spiritual needs. It is like going to the gym, but for your spirit. This is the one fault a spiritual practice can have; decompartmentalization. Separating your spiritual activities from your everyday life is an indication of a spiritual practice and not a spiritual life. Keeping your spiritual activities and beliefs secret from family members and friends is also an indication of a spiritual practice.
Making a distinction between a spiritual practice and a spiritual life is not so we can say one is better than the other, or that one is superior to the other. Making this distinction is to bring clarity to the mind so that you may see where you can grow and expand to the full expression of your true self. After all, a spiritual life only comes after you have established a spiritual practice. The goal of having a spiritual practice is to develop a spiritual life. However, most people stay at the spiritual practice level.
As with everything that involves the spirit, awareness is key. Once you become aware of what you are doing, what you are practicing, and how you are doing it, you will be able expand and implement your knowledge to other aspects of your life.