New age spiritual language has become a bog of well meaning terms that in effect mean whatever you need or want them to need, or, in fact, nothing.
As much as we all want to be the light, find our truth and let it all go, whilst mantra-ing our ass down to the local yoga dojo, it's sometimes not that simple. Sometimes spiritual advice becomes such a hotbed of cliche it loses its common sense. As a spiritual writer I am more than guilty of trotting cliches out like a recipe for happiness that can be either effective or nonsense given the mood of the recipient. So I decided to challenge myself to writing ten cliche free spiritual tips. It's all just words after all. And as a writer, it's fun to play, to get to grips with the subject without falling back on overused phrases.
This has helped me pinpoint a little more realistically how some ancient concepts might be enacted in the everyday. In fact I became so averse to cliche in writing this that I really stripped back to the basics, more so than I expected. But perfect for anyone who likes their spirit as a side dish to a main life.
So here is my cliche free tips for getting a bit more spiritual with your self.
1) Have a word. That thing you are vexing over or that fear you are entertaining. Is it really real or the product of an overactive imagination? Let's talk humanity. Are you letting your honest to goodness humanity cause you fractions and frictions and general unhappiness? If so, then have a word. Listen to your own head, step back and then tell yourself about yourself. Don't tie yourself in knots about this. Simply disregard all and anything making you less than content and decide to think differently for a minute, a day, a week. And that difference can be as simple as refusing to think things which make you sad or stress you and swapping that for thinking about what you are doing at any given moment, or perhaps allowing creative, artistic, inspiring thoughts and plans to take the forefront. Plan adventures. Expect the most wonderful.
2) Put the phone down. Leave the camera at home. Stop trying to capture moments and live them instead. Yeah something cute might happen or you might be rocking an on point manicure that needs insta-expression. But shit kiddo. Enjoy it in real time and not through a lens.
3) Don't be a dick. Be really nice to people. And mean it. If people ain't so nice to you, then wish them well and head off. Being a dick is harmful in the end to you. It's easy to enjoy, even revel, in a bitching session. It seemingly raises your energy as you diss other people. But it's not cool, it's not kind and in the end diminishes you. By being so critical of others you are likely deflecting from some unseemly parts of you. Instead of focusing on others, have a think what could be better about you, and then make loving attempts to change yourself. Get over yourself. And as for everyone else. Forget them. Be cool, be kind, see what happens.
4) Sit still somewhere. People watch. Have a nice cup of fully caffeinated black tea and watch the world go by. Allow your mind to gently observe the world around you. Get excited about squirrels or the mating rituals of your local pigeons. Let you mind take you on fabulous journeys as you imagine the lives of the people who pass. Just watch all of that like it's your favourite show. Notice how it makes you feel. Don't worry about your stuff. Let your thoughts be provoked by what is around you. Become a spectator without any say so or influence.
5) Go to the beach. Go to the local park. Go to the lake. Go to the mountains. Go out in the rain / cold / sun. No instructions for what you do when you get there. I'll leave that up to you. Just make sure you go.
6) Eat something you love and really enjoy it. One of the funniest things I heard recently came from stand up comedian and Vicar Maggy Whitehouse, who quipped that, she tried to be spiritual but she didn't have the food intolerances. What you eat matters. Course it does. And we can get ever so hung up on being righteous and ethical and moral and empowered by food. But in the first instance it's important to remember that food is delicious and we have been given senses for a reason. And the least we can do is just really enjoy a delicious meal. So just do it. Whatever other mores you wish to entertain as a gorgeous glorious hippy can come later. First up. Eat. Same goes for all other delightful human experiences. Indulge. Get stuck into being human. Tantalise those senses and feel no guilt. Guilt is for losers.
7) Take a break. Have a holiday. It doesn't matter where you go or how you do it. It doesn't need to be anything other than a rest from your every day life and the person you act when within it. Go to Butlins and laugh with your kids. Go to Benidorm and befriend an old couple of expats who are tatooed and crude and awesome. Go to Bali and forget to appreciate the culture, get wasted and miss the trip to the temple. Make your break about leaving not only your routine, but your masks at home. However that pans out for you, take it home, keep it.
8) Include someone. The world can be a pretty exclusive place. From the playground to the works break room it's easier to keep to our own. Never quite opening up the channels of communication with people we see as different or part of another tribe. Have a little water cooler chat with someone. Talk about the weather. It's no big thing. Reach out, smile, say something innocuous, who knows what might happen.
9) Get over it. I'm not gonna use the fabulous f word (forgive). Whatever happened and whomever did it, find a way to place it in your history books and don't revisit. Holding onto things that wind you up is only damaging yourself. Put yourself first and in doing that you let all the other stuff fizzle away as you focus on little things that make you smile.
10) Whatever you are doing right now, pay attention to that. I'm so close to cliche-ing out at this point. But I'm gonna lay this down as best I can without any overused spiritual extensions. Look at your toes and your fingers and feel a smile creep on your face. This is it. This feeling right now. Whatever comes at any other time is myth or history. Whatever anyone else thinks or does is their business. Whomever you were ten minutes ago is so over. Who you will be in ten minutes is science fiction, futuristic, hopeful thinking. Hold your breath (as opposed to taking a deep one) feel the burn. That's the life draining out of you. Don't die. Spend the next every second resolutely and purposefully not dying. It's fun.
Spiritual living is essentially just living. So do that.
I also recommend driving, travelling by train, car, plane or boat whilst gazing into the distance and long showers whilst navel gazing. Those recommendations come courtesy of my bank of random things that give me spiritual thoughts.
Feel free to mediate that out on your yoga mat or chow it down over a large fries and chocolate milkshake.
Nobody has got the spiritual seniority over you because we are all just lost souls flapping about the place seeking connection and expression and understanding.
Cliche or otherwise the more you explore whatever spirit is to you, the better. It's your thing baby, your birthright and your being. Believe that and the rest is just words. Make them your own.
Alice is the bestselling author of The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living amongst others. If her approach to an everyday and (extra)ordinary spiritual life appeals then check out her books and personal tarot readings! and follow Alice on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all @alicegrist