Many of us want to be more spiritual, but we might not know where to start on our spiritual journey.
I find it helps to start with the basics.
I like to teach my students about the basic spiritual principles from which all spiritual practices stem. It’s just like learning any other subject. You don’t want to jump into the complex parts first!
There are many spiritual principles, but here are 5 basic ones that on their own, can help you change your life.
These principles build on each other, so it’s best to start at the beginning and branch out as you start to master them, one at a time.
How to Get Started
Remember, this is a practice! We learn and implement these principles by learning to notice our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. That helps us notice whether we are aligned with these principles or not.
Start by learning about them so you are aware of them. That is the first step to adopting them as part of your regular mindset. Remember them, and practice bringing yourself back to these principles when you notice that you’ve drifted off track.
These principles might seem lofty or complicated, but they’re quite simple. Keeping focus on them means practicing them and this is where the rubber hits the road.
Have you ever heard that when your posture is perfect, your body is lined up in such a way that your head feels weightless? Holding yourself becomes effortless. It feels so much better to be in alignment than to slouch and let your shoulders droop.
It does take some practice though. At first, it takes constantly reminding yourself to hold your head up, square your shoulders, even your weight on your feet, and tuck your pelvis.
Before long though, those things will feel more natural and become a habit.
Adopting these spiritual principles is the same.
5 Spiritual Principles Everyone Can Adopt
The first and most fundamental spiritual principle is love.
Love for yourself for others, for all beings, all plants, all objects, for the planet, for creation.
Love for all things.
True, high level love is about appreciation, nonattachment, respect, and genuinely desiring the best for all.
When you’re in alignment with love, you take care and are attentive.
If you’re loving toward yourself, you’ll take care of yourself and want the best for yourself. If you love nature, you’ll be more conscious of how your choices impact the environment and adjust your actions accordingly, guilt-free. If you love your significant other, you’ll respect them, appreciate them, and want the best for them, even if what they want isn’t what you want.
A note about romantic love: Romantic love is fun and can feel really good, but on its own, it’s not usually true love.
Romantic love tends to be about possession. When we fall in love we tend to want and expect things from our partner. Notice how love songs have lines like, “You’re mine. I want this from you and you’d better give it to me, and if you don’t, I won’t love you anymore and/or I’ll fall apart.” Too often, we see our romantic partners as wish fulfillment centers.
Ask yourself: Do you want the best for yourself and for your partner?
Union, Connection, and Non-Duality
This one confuses people at first because it’s so different from what we’re used to.
We’re used to working in the material plane, where there’s a clear right, left, up, down, and separation between you, me, a leaf, a chair, and a dog.
I see you as separate from me. The chair is separate from me. The sky is separate from me.
On the spiritual plane, it’s all connected. There’s no separation. I can’t do anything without it impacting everything.
Say I say something mean to you. There’s no way to say something mean to you without hurting myself, because saying mean things takes me out of a state of love.
And it hurts to not be in a state of love!
When I’m not behaving lovingly, I’m hurting myself. I’m not in alignment with Universal spiritual principles. My energy diminishes if I’m hateful or mean. I won’t feel happy, open or vibrant.
Instead, I’ll feel closed and constricted.
This works with objects as well. If your coat is dirty, you could throw it on the floor or treat it like a rag, which is not loving your coat.
Or you could take it to the cleaners. You could clean it and donate it. You can do things that are more respectful of the resources and labor that went into that coat.
Do you see what I mean?
Ask yourself: Do you feel connected to the world around you, or separate from it?
Open vs Closed
When you’re in a loving state, you’re open. Being open means you are not operating out of fear.
Yes, there are things out there that are dangerous. Life is a dangerous business. When you’re open you can discern danger so you can interact with the universe in a self-preserving manner instead of hiding from it.
Being fearful might sound like a good way to stay safe. but in fact it actually invites more of what you are afraid of into your life.
For example, if you’re on a hike and realize you’re nearing a cliff, you can simply move away from the cliff.
But if you’re closed, you may feel terrified during the whole hike anticipating the “danger” that could lie ahead, thereby missing out on the beauty that surrounds you. Or you may avoid going anywhere that there might be a cliff, which means no hiking, traveling, driving, or biking. You’d miss out on a lot of wonderful things!
Being closed is being unwilling to risk being harmed, physically or emotionally. Being closed is being unwilling to accept the inherent dangers and challenges of being alive. There are no guarantees in life. Life contains many uncertainties whether we like it or not.
Ask yourself: Am I in a state of openness, or am I closed off?
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Abundance vs Scarcity
This spiritual principle is a little different, because it’s not about getting into this state. It’s just about realizing that we’re already in this state.
Abundance is a mindset. It has nothing to do with our circumstances.
We’re always in abundance whether we know it or not, because the here and now is abundant.
We have air, sunshine, and so many things that are abundant. We just forget about that abundance because we want something other than what we have right now.
We say “No, what I have right now isn’t abundance. I want THAT. That other thing is abundance.”
Without the mindset of abundance, what do you think happens when we get that other thing we wanted? That’s right. We still don’t feel a sense of abundance in our lives because we’re not in an abundant mindset.
Abundance is ours in every moment.
By the way, abundance doesn’t mean that we will never want anything on the material level.
It’s remembering what we have right here and right now is abundance. Remembering to be grateful for all that we have.
Ask yourself: Do feel unhappy because I don’t have what I want, or fear that I can’t get what I want? OR Am I grateful and happy for the abundance that is mine in this moment?
When we’re in a state of love and abundance, we feel generous. We want to share our abundance with others. We’ll want to share and care for each other because that is our true nature.
The opposite of generosity, of course, is hoarding, greed, withholding, and holding onto more than you can use.
The word “hoarding” might conjure up images of horrifically messy houses, but we can also hoard our generosity, or our love. When we withhold our love there is a way that we are diminished. Love is our essence and when we don’t express it, we harm ourselves as much as we harm others.
When behave in a way that is greedy, we cut ourselves off from love and will likely feel pain. We accumulate all this stuff, perhaps trying to create a sense of security. But we can never have enough stuff to feel secure. Stuff comes and goes. If we have more food than we can use the food will rot. It’s of no use.
It’s only useful to have as much as we can use and to share what we have, with things and emotions like love.
Ask yourself: Am I behaving generously or miserly?
Remember, this is practice. Ask yourself these questions and notice to what degree that you are operating from the principles of love, union, openness, abundance, and generosity. Notice how you feel when you veer from these principles.
Then, choose. Choose whether you want to stay on your current path or whether you want to come into alignment with your values.