‘The universe is not in a steady state; there’s an ongoing creative principle in nature, which is driving things onwards.’ ~ Rupert Sheldrake
Studies have shown that spiritual practices generally make people feel happier, healthier and support them in leading more meaningful and authentic lives. The concept of spirituality can carry meaning in both secular and non-secular contexts for individuals, particularly with regards to the notion of transcendence, that is, going beyond the mundane and material. The common thread running through all meditative, spiritual and contemplative practices is the emphasis on connection because these practices are intended to lead us beyond the ordinary to deeper kinds of connection. Since human beings have the capacity to go beyond our material existence by imagining the future, envisioning possibilities, creating ideals, they also then have the capacity to instantiate some of these possibilities. Human beings can thus also realise some of these ideals through creative action because of their capacities to transcend the mundane and material.
The spiritual practices that form human universal heritage, which have been investigated and validated scientifically include:
- Meditative practices;
- Gratitude practices;
- Connecting with nature
- Relating to plants;
- Embedding rituals;
- Singing and chanting;
- Visiting holy places and pilgrimage;
- Psychedelic ceremonial practices;
- Creating and connecting with music, dance and other art forms.
At The Art of Integral Being, although our 500-hour Integral Yogic Teacher Training Programme combines modern scientific research with the mastery of the practices, the emphasis of our classes, courses and workshops is placed on first-person direct experience. This is an emphasis on self-exploration through one’s own personal practice, whatever that includes. Since the system of Integral Yoga of the Dharma Ananda tradition is open, creative and culturally-responsive, it is meaningful and valuable precisely because it emphasises first-person direct experience.
Radical secularism has arguably left behind these valuable spiritual practices and what they offer human beings. The Art of Integral Being upholds an appreciation and respect for the philosophical, spiritual, religious and shamanistic traditions from which the origins of the above practices can be traced, while at the same time it remains an open system that is flexible, culturally-diverse and inclusive of the ancient and the modern.