By embarking on a spiritual journey, you can discover who you truly are. A spiritual journey is a very individual and intimate quest to consciously deepen your insight about life. Some people decide to go on a spiritual journey in order to pose themselves profound questions about their life. The journey can, for instance, help them to better understand their purpose in life. Others seek to intensively study the nature of reality or wish to grow their understanding of God. Whatever it is, a spiritual journey can greatly help you to be more at peace with yourself and the world. It can be a fantastic opportunity to let go of the past and to stop worrying about the future. You can also use the spiritual quest to straighten things out with yourself and the world. By doing so, you may discover beneficial insights about the problems and challenges you’re confronted with. The following presents you everything you need to know about embarking on a spiritual journey.
Naturally, each spiritual journey is quite unique. In fact, the term means a great number of things to different people. For some, it is the decision to live a faithful life in service to other people and their faith. Others consider their entire life as a spiritual journey. After all, isn’t life in itself a journey in one way or the other?
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
But it isn’t so important how each of us defines the term. What is important, however, is that you have the right tools at hand to make the most out of your spiritual journey. While every journey is unique, they all share certain commonalities. They all rely on common, or at least very similar, steps. These steps might not always be arranged in precisely the same order. Some people will develop an interest in their spiritual journey when they are old, whereas others embarked on it at a very young age.
The intention of the following is not to force you in a specific direction. Instead, consider the advice as a fundament and framework upon which you can build a spiritual journey according to your own beliefs.
How to embark on a spiritual journey
Each and every one of us is living an entirely different life. We all come from different backgrounds and have different pasts. We make different experiences during our lifetimes. Even further, every one of us believes in totally different things. Your life is absolutely not comparable to mine. Therefore, it’s only too understandable that everyone’s journey in life is quite unique. This is the reason why we all have to embark on our own spiritual journey. We all need to embark on a journey that aligns with our own beliefs (and/or faith). And this is how it should be. Walking in the footsteps of another man or woman may be inspiring at first. However, it might not necessarily be beneficial to simply try and copy another person’s accomplishments. Have the courage to create your own path. If you go on a journey other people designed or intended for you, you may never experience the profound insights that come from traveling on your own and unique journey.
Table of contents
Let’s begin with a short explanation of the term “spiritual journey.”
In general, a spiritual journey describes the process of a person embarking on a quest to deepen their knowledge, understanding and wisdom about themselves, the world and/or God. The phrase can refer to a person seeking to lead an intentional and conscious lifestyle in order to gain various insights about themselves and life. But it can also refer to the intentional search of a deeper understanding about God and perhaps also their faith.
While some believe a person needs to decide to embark on a spiritual journey, it may prove more beneficial to consider our entire life as a spiritual journey. Doing so can help us to realize that all the experiences we make in life are important steppingstones in our journeys.
The following will give you a better understanding on what you can do to embark on a spiritual journey. Understand these tips as marker posts that point you in the right direction. They are not intended to be a step-by-step instruction. You also don’t need to follow their specific order. Simply see if these tips resonate with you. If they are applicable to your own life and situation, apply them and see if they are useful to you.
1. Where do you want to go?
It’s always best to know where you’re going. This holds true for those who travel in real life, but also for those who embark on a spiritual journey. If you don’t have a clear destination in mind, you’ll be more likely to walk mindlessly without making progress. But if you do have an approximate idea of where you want to go, it will be much easier to steer your actions in one direction. It may be incredibly difficult to know exactly where you want to go with your life. At the same time, it can be challenging to discover your purpose in life. However, the idea is to roughly know where you want to go.
This does not mean that you already have to know the ultimate destination of your journey. In fact, the destination might change over the course of time. This is perfectly fine and absolutely not a problem. In fact, it’s encouraged to adapt your goals as you progress in life. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t have a clear destination in mind when you make your first step. Have a goal and keep adjusting it.
2. Have the courage to embark on your own journey
There are many people who try to force you in a specific direction. They will tell you that there is only one path and that all others are leading you nowhere. However, should we really assume that the path an individual embarks in is any better or worse than another person’s journey? What is important is that you find YOUR path. But it is even more important that you have the courage to follow where this path leads you. If you allow others to force you in a given direction, you may not find the necessary motivation and perseverance to stick to it.
3. Develop a roadmap
Once you have a rough idea where your journey should lead you, it’s a good idea to develop a roadmap. The map is nothing else but a written strategy on how you intend to come closer to your destination. The strategy could detail the specific goals about going on a spiritual journey. But it could also detail what exactly you intend to do in order to reach these goals. [Don’t worry if you don’t know precisely where you destination lies. The following tips will address this issue.]
When you develop your roadmap, it’s important to think about some meaningful goals you wish to accomplish. Write these goals down and rank them according to their importance. For instance, you may wish to set yourself the goal to explore the nature of reality. Or you wish to develop a deeper connection to God. Perhaps you wish to have more compassion for others or to be less afraid of death. Whatever it is, set a goal and develop a strategy to reach this goal.
4. Keep a journal of your journey
It’s important to understand that your spiritual journey did not begin when you set the intention to embark on it. Instead, it began with your birth. All your life’s experiences culminated in who you are today. All the joy and suffering, the victories and the defeats made you the person you are today. Therefore, all these experiences contributed important insights and lessons to your spiritual journey. They may not always be pleasant memories, but they all helped you to grow stronger and wiser.
A journal can be an excellent way to record the experiences you make along your journey. By writing down the major events in your life, you’ll be able to better see the golden thread that spans through your life. But it may also prove very beneficial to take a reflective approach about past experiences as well. Doing so may help you to discover important lessons and insights from the various things that happened to you in life.
5. Decide what role your journey should play in your life
For some people, there’s no greater goal and purpose in their life than to follow where their spiritual journey leads them. Some even dedicate their entire life to this journey. This is perfectly fine, but it may not be the right path for everyone. It’s therefore quite helpful to decide for yourself which role your spiritual journey should play in your life. Ask yourself how important the spiritual aspects of your journey are to you. Think about the extent of your journey.
You may simply want to integrate new aspect of a more spiritual approach into your existing life. But it’s also possible that you seek to develop a better understanding about yourself, your life, God or your faith. So it’s always good to decide firsthand how important the spiritual journey is to you. For some people, it’s simply an important aspect of their lives. To others, it’s the very reason for their existence.
Those who are more experienced and have walked for a little longer than us often report that the pace of their spiritual journey gradually increased. At first, their curiosity (or an inner longing) made them explore certain concepts, which they slowly integrated into their life. Step-by-step this led to a profound transformation of their entire life.
Don’t think of your spiritual journey as a short excursion with a fixed beginning and end. Instead, try to think of it as a lifelong journey of growth.
6. There are no mistakes
No good spiritual journey comes without mistakes. It’s not possible to plan every small detail of your journey in advance. As a result, you will sometimes walk in the entirely wrong direction. In other cases, you might make mistakes that hinder your progress for a little while. Don’t let these challenges discourage you from pursuing your spiritual journey. See what happens to you on your path as valuable experiences. In many cases, we need to take one or two misleading paths in order to find the path that leads us to our goals.
So don’t punish yourself for making a mistake. It’s entirely human. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to experience, to learn and to grow. We all mess up sometimes. When this happens, it’s important that we learn our lesson and give our very best to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
7. Conquer your mind and ego
Engaging on a spiritual journey means to take responsibility for your life and actions. It means to take control of your mind and ego. An essential aspect of a person’s spiritual journey is to learn what they can do to become more virtuous human beings. Two major factors that contribute largely to who you are is your mind and ego. By conquering these two and by making them abide your will, you can make quick progress in your journey. Otherwise, your mind and ego will steer you off-course.
Learn to control the chatter of your mind. Notice the subtle influence of your thoughts on your behavior and how you perceive reality. Develop strategies to cleanse your mind and to gain control over your thinking processes. Find ways to think more positively.
8. Start learning from the hardships of your life
Life confronts each and every one of us with great difficulties, challenges and suffering. What most people do in these situations is that they endure the suffering and move on. However, if you embark on a spiritual journey you may want to take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture. If you ignore what happens to you in life, you went through all this suffering and misery for no good reason. But if you consider the hardships of your life as great educators that teach you valuable lessons, you will truly make big leaps in your journey.
Life is not just black and white. Difficulties and challenges in your life may be incredibly painful. But if you look back and reflect on your past, you will see that all these experiences somehow changed you for the better. Realize that everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. And everything that happens leads to something better.
9. Follow where your intuition leads you
Many people who go on a spiritual journey have no clear idea where this path leads them. They simply feel an inner urge that prompts them to take the first step. Deep inside themselves, they know that is the right decision. They don’t outweigh the pros and cons but trust that their decision leads them in the right direction.
If you go on a spiritual journey, have the courage to follow your intuition, wherever it may lead you. No matter if you call it intuition, higher guidance or gut instinct, pay attention to what it says. Don’t let your worries and doubts decide in which direction you go. Instead, have the courage to experiment and to see where your intuition leads you.
10. Draw inspiration from sacred texts and philosophy
There’s an almost infinite amount of profound wisdom and practical advice to be found in sacred texts and philosophical teachings. Sacred texts such as the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Torah, the Vedas, the Tao Te Ching, the Buddhist Sutras and the Koran inspired billions around the world to become better human beings. Unfortunately, a great number of people reject teachings from other religions. Similarly, many people are simply not interested in “thousand-year-old books.” All these people miss out on incredibly valuable teachings that can be wonderful companions on a spiritual journey.
Be curious and explore other ways of thinking. You don’t necessarily have to accept these teachings if you don’t agree with them. By reading sacred texts or philosophical teachings, however, you can gain a much better glimpse of the bigger picture. These texts will help you to get a new perspective on your life and your beliefs. Many of these texts provide excellent inspiration for your spiritual journey. They put the challenges of your journey into context and show you opportunities for growth and spiritual progress.
If you develop a keen interest in various spiritual, religious or philosophical concepts, you’ll notice that they all share certain commonalities. They have much more in common than many people are led to believe. As you read these texts, you will notice that they can enrich your life and broaden your perspective. Even more so, you might even be able to better understand the teachings of your own religion or spiritual doctrine. There are even very similar principles that are true and holy in most, if not all, of the sacred texts. One of the many commonalities is that all these teachings encourage their disciples to live faithful, honest and virtuous lives.
The inspiring teachings of sacred texts might prove to be the right fertilizer that helps you to blossom during your journey. The same holds true for the wise words of sages and saints.
And always remember, religious wars only exist because people cannot accept that there are other religions out there. They are so angered by it that they willingly defy the rules and laws of their own discipline in order to punish others for their disbelief.
11. Embrace the unknown
If you always walk the path that you’ve always known, you will always go where you’ve always been. Embrace the mystery of the journey. Have the courage to explore new paths and see where they lead you.
Not everything in life can be planned. The illusion of certainty only limits our progress. Especially when it comes to a spiritual journey, you never know for sure what experiences you’ll make and the people you’ll meet. We never truly know how things will unfold during our journey.
If you have the courage to embrace the unknown, you will be presented with great opportunities.
12. Start meditating
All the major religions practice forms of meditation, they are known under different names. But it is important to understand that meditation is simply a tool. You can use it to train your mind but also to make progress in your spiritual journey.
Meditation helps you to calm your mind and to reduce many of its negative influences on your behavior. At the same time, meditating regularly will help you to get in touch with your true self and higher aspects of yourself.
See How to Meditate for more information.
In the following you can find a hand-picked selection of excellent books that can accompany you on your spiritual journey:
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
- The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Throughout the course of a person’s life, there will be many calls to embark on a spiritual journey. These calls to action may come as life-changing experiences, dreams or inspiring conversations that we have. Unfortunately, a great number of people ignore these calls. They refuse to embark on a spiritual journey because they are afraid where it may lead them. They are not particularly comfortable with the unknown and fear change. As a result, they keep living their life as they always did and deny the increasing urgency of the call.
Instead of running away from your call, try to embrace it. Seek for the mission and purpose of your life. But once you do develop an understanding of your purpose, have the courage to pursue it. Your journey will confront you with uncertainties and challenges. But all these experiences will eventually help you to realize your full potential.
“If you lead me astray, then my wanderings will bring me to my destination.”
Michael Bassey Johnson
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the different ways to go on a spiritual journey.