You’ve Reached a Spiritual Dead End. Now What?

You’ve Reached a Spiritual Dead End. Now What? April 27, 2022

Spiritual rut
Gabriel Soto via Unsplash

Have you been in a spiritual rut lately? The definition of being in a rut is getting stuck in “a habit or a pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive.” And just like we can get stuck in a rut at our job or in our home life, we can also get stuck in our spiritual practice.

The problem may be our routine, doing the same things over and over again. We read books by the same handful of spiritual authors. We peruse the same set of Bible passages. We use the same meditation technique or rote method of prayer. And we find that what once stirred our souls and opened our hearts, no longer has the same effect.

Maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

What follows are four ways to shake things up and breathe some new life into your spiritual routine. That’s important because when we’re refreshed and recharged spiritually, we feel better inside and out—and show up in the world as the best and truest version of ourselves.

Idea #1. Fall in love with 3 new things.

This idea comes from the former Dominican priest, activist and author Matthew Fox and his new book Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality. Fox writes about the four paths of creation spirituality, one of them being the need to “fall in love at least 3 times a day.” This starts by engaging with life with open eyes and an open heart.

Now, Fox is not talking about romantic love but our ability to “fall in love with a star, a wildflower, a bird, a tree, an animal.” It could also be platonic love, or agape, for “another human-being—preferably one different from oneself” be they of a different race, skin color or sexual persuasion than you are. He continues:

We could fall in love with music, poetry, paintings dance. If we could fall in love with one of Mozart’s works each week, we would have seven years of joy. How could we ever be bored?

Idea #2. Spend more time in the natural world.

Writing in the book On the Brink of Everything, Parker J. Palmer advises us to “spend time in the natural world, as much time as you can.” We should observe “the amazing and integrity” that can be found outdoors, paying special attention to the parts of the natural world that speak to us, even if it’s the silence.

Of course, to do this you’ve got to get outside! If you’re fortunate enough, you might find nature right outside your door, in a park or natural setting in your neighborhood, or a short drive away. One thing you might try tonight: instead of turning on the television set or burying yourself in your phone, step outside and look up at the stars.

What’s the importance of being outside? As Steven Rinella recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

As creatures of the earth, we are inherently connected to the natural world. A relationship with nature fulfills our yearning to belong to something bigger than ourselves that will outlast us all.

Idea #3. Find sanctuary.

Palmer thinks of finding sanctuary as “a largely silent, solitary process of reflection that helps us reclaim the ‘ground of our being’ and root ourselves in something larger and truer than our own egos.” You might find this sanctuary during the early morning hours or before you retire at night. Palmer explains its importance in his own life:

Sanctuary is where I find safe space to regain my bearings, reclaim my soul, heal my wounds, and return to the world as a wounded healer. It’s not merely about finding shelter from the storm—it’s about spiritual survival and the capacity to carry on.

Idea #4. Get out of your comfort zone.

It may be time to expand your thinking. Try a new book, a new podcast, a new church. It’s important to read or hear the ideas of other voices in the spiritual realm. You might just come across a fresh way of thinking that causes you to look at the world in a new way or that reignites a spark deep within. But—you’ll never know what you might be missing, until you take that first step and try something new.

How about you: What changes can you make to your spiritual life? What new disciplines can you explore? How will you shake up your status quo and rekindle your spiritual flame?

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