Personal and spiritual growth develop when your actions are in alignment with your core values.
Find happiness and build confidence with spiritual growth in these 4 ways...
Strengthening denial muscles
Personal or spiritual excellence is dulled if you do what should not be done, or not do what should be done. This is the traditional formulation of acts of commission and omission. Thus in your life's journey, you need to develop some practice that will support you to avoid inappropriate action.
You have to strengthen your muscles of denial in order to deny yourself of negative temptations. One way of accomplishing this is through fasting. The period and nature of the fast are dependent on the circumstances of the person and the philosophical basis of the fast.
Types of fasting
Fasting has a spiritual benefit and a physical benefit. When you fast you decide that you will deny yourself of certain foods, although you may have the desire to consume them. This develops your muscles of denial that help you to avoid doing negative things when the temptation arises.
There are different types of fasting. However, consult your medical practitioner before you undertake fasting, especially if you have diabetes or some other medical condition. Fasts may last from one day to several days, depending on your spiritual or religious orientation.
- The simplest fast is to eat half of what you will normally eat, but without any snacks. There is the fast from 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. where nothing is taken during the 12 hour period, other than perhaps water. In this type of fast, you should not gorge yourself before 6.00 a.m. and after 6.00 p.m., otherwise you will not get the full benefit of strengthening your denial muscles.
- There is the liquid fast in which no solids are taken. The extreme liquid fast is taking only water. Another liquid fast is taking fruit juices only. There is also the fruit only fast. Of course, there are many other types of fast, and in all fasts be aware that you do not get dehydrated.
- Probably the most difficult fast is the mental fast. In this fast, for a defined period, from 1 hour to 24 hours you must avoid any negative thoughts, actions, or words about yourself or any other person. For example, if someone drove an automobile recklessly around you, avoid thinking negatively. You may think, perhaps he has an emergency. In all types of fast, you have to find time for going within yourself to connect with your Divine source, but it is even more so with the mental fast.
The physical aspect of fasting is only one of its facets. The other side is the spiritual aspect. You need to do something to strengthen your spiritual muscles. One method of achieving this is to engage in internal communication with your Higher Self during the period of the fast. This may take the form of stillness, prayer, meditation or other esoteric technique. The Holy Scriptures declares, "Be still and know that I am God."
It is also interesting that the disciples of Jesus could not exorcise certain evil spirits, and when Jesus did the exorcism, the disciples asked Him why they could not do it. Jesus answered and told them that such ability was dependent on fasting and praying.
Prayer has many definitions, but one that is generally accepted is that "Prayer is communication with God." Communication requires one person to speak and the other person to listen. The process is then reversed.
What happens quite often is you speak to whomever you are praying to. You make your requests known. Seldom do you reflect and listen to the answer from whom you are communicating with.
Listening for the voice of God is tricky. St. Paul makes the comment, "Test the spirit, for there are spirits and spirits." Each person has a unique way to assess and test the spirit. Some act on intuition, some hear a voice, some sense the communication, some get feelings, some get a vision, and there are other variations.
The key is that you have to enter your inner body, reflect, be an observer and enter into a state of awareness. At your first try you cannot be competent at walking, driving, playing golf, or anything else. Similarly, you have to practice the technique of listening for the voice of God. Some persons contend that the answers are within you, and it is a matter of learning how to access the database of Your Higher Self. You have the power to give full expression to your Divine nature.