This is a visual aid showing the nine elements that make up a well-rounded spiritual practice. Not coincidently, these elements are also the foundation of a well-balanced health and wellness program. So, spiritual practice and wellness go hand-in-hand.
Why All Nine Elements?
Our own experience has shown a strategy incorporating these nine elements provides the best overall outcomes. We are talking about the outcomes of both spiritual and consciousness development, as well as, increased health and wellness. This approach is what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey.
The six foundation elements are Appropriate Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Water, Sleep, Proper Exercise, and Diet. To these six basic elements, we add the two categories of spiritual technologies, seated and moving meditation. The ninth tool is the use of the intellectual and analytical ability of the mind.
The category of moving meditation includes all of the variations energy collection, martial arts, Gurdjieff type movements, Qigong, etc. The seated meditation bucket includes virtually everything that can be done sitting with the eyes closed. This includes all brands and forms of transcendental, exploratory, contemplation and concentration.
Shamanic journeying could be either, or both seated or moving. The various forms of Yoga, or practices in other traditions that mirror the same attributes also often fall into several of these categories simultaneously. Similarly, natural healing practices like Reiki could be in both categories.
What Obstacles are in the way?
By far, many people find proper diet and exercise are the two most difficult elements to incorporate into their schedules. The right diet is different for everyone. We all have different needs. However, we can recommend an exercise routine that incorporates strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular exercise. This is sperate even if you are involved in some technique of moving meditation. This would include all forms of martial arts and physically oriented Yoga. Adding as many different forms of physical exercise will improve your ability with all types of spiritual technologies. This practice increases mind-body integration.
View the body and your consciousness as an intricate and delicate instrument. It is designed for the refined study of this realm. Then you will tend to make decisions about your practice based on refining and improving these instruments of exploration. This will yield the best experiential results. There are also psychotropic compounds some use to directly affect the consciousness and none-ordinary states of reality. However, these compounds should only be used with the guidance of a knowledgeable and well-informed guide. They are not for the novice. Only an experienced spiritual explorer should consider their use.
Other than failing to incorporate all of these elements into your practice, the most common obstacle that impedes progress revolves around mistaking being involved with or in a “belief system” for the proper use of the intellect and analytical prowess of the mind. That is, having too many beliefs about spiritual reality can hinder one from benefiting from many of the spiritual technologies that exist. The appropriate intellectual technology should lead you to or through the use of one or both of the meditative categories listed above. The focus should be on learning to think and analyze rather than memorizing data.
To summarize The Nine Elements
These are nine tools or elements make up the tools for spiritual practice:
- Clean Air
- Clean Water
- Adequate Sunshine
- Proper Diet
- Appropriate Amount of Sleep
- Exercise Tailored to you
- Analytical and Intellectual training of the mind
- Seated Meditation
- Moving Meditation
Above all, each of these tools or elements must be tailored to the individual. One size does not fit all. Where you start with each element depends on a variety of factors involving lifestyle, time available, resources, environment, and general health. Leaving out one or more of these elements will have an adverse effect on your delicate instrument of consciousness and your spiritual exploration.
We can further define the spiritual technologies within this practice. We call the practice of employing these ancient tools spiritual exploration. Some examples of spiritual technologies that help to understand how to think and how your delicate instrument works are through the use of the Enneagram or other similar systematic approaches to identifying and understanding your personality structure. This, in turn, helps you to identify any obstacles to thinking or belief that hinder your progress. Another example is the study of logical reasoning and probability theory in general. These tools help you to sift through the mountain of data available in the category of religious philosophy and belief.
If this article resonates, there are more on our blog. Also, you may be interested in learning about our blended learning process. This is our curriculum which we use to teach several mind-expanding tools. It also aligns the Hero’s Journey. This is the term Joseph Campbell gave the pattern of consciousness development. Our learning process is available in two forms. You can take part in the virtual learning module or in our workshops.
Images from Google.