By February 15, 2013 7 Comments Read More →

Seven Habits for Effective Spiritual Cultivation

Dylan Charles, Editor
Waking Times

Spiritual cultivation is our responsibility and gift as human beings. At it’s core it means that we live properly, in harmony with nature and with principles that support life.

The definition of spirituality is growing as we now have access to such a vast range of information and ideas in our inter-connected world. In simple terms, a spiritual experience may be defined as a revelation, insight, meaningful hallucination or vision that brings about feelings of certainty of the existence of non-physical realms, often resulting in great peace and lasting emotional comfort.

For some it comes in a surprising flash or a near-death experience, however, for most, spirituality bears its fruits when this aspect of our humanity is carefully cultivated, integrating spiritual living into our daily lives.

Whatever the religion, dogma, inclination, tradition or methodology, spiritual experience is to be earned by all who seek it and work intentionally to achieve a deeper connection with this mysterious universe.

These seven fundamental habits of effective spiritual cultivation can be employed to the benefit of the seeker of any spiritual truth. Please enjoy them, and share with friends and family.

1. Make Time for Spiritual Cultivation

The great Taoist spiritual leader, Master Hua-Ching Ni, was once asked at a conference what he thought was the most fundamental spiritual practice of them all. His simple and surprising reply? ‘Go to bed early, wake up early.

For many spiritual traditions rising early to summon the purifying and energizing energies of the pre-dawn hours is ingrained in daily life. In Chinese medicine as well, the hours of the early morning hold special significance for purification of the body and spirit. The body is refreshed and empty, the mind is alert, yet relaxed. This is the most silent, peaceful, meditative and enlightening time of the day.

2. Respecting Food

Turning inward to nurture the spirit requires one to pay attention to the many things that influence the mind and body, of which food is perhaps at the top of the list.

Spiritual eating habits and practices are wide and varied, but demonstrating respect for food, first and foremost, strengthens one’s relationship to spirit. Fasting and strict dieting at certain times of the year are common to nearly all ritualistic traditions, and in this way, food aids in the creation of spiritual experience.

The physical components of the human body that make up the spiritual anatomy are also prone to contamination, toxification, entropy and so forth. Proper diet can assist in detoxifying the body and can be aimed at purifying specific organs and systems, like the Pineal Gland for example, to positively influence spiritual receptivity.

3. Personal Physical Practice

The human body is a magnificent receiver and transmitter of consciousness, as well as the cellular vault of memories, emotions, and energy. Like a finely crafted machine, it functions optimally when it is in good repair, well-maintained, clean, and free of wear and tear.

Regularly tending to the physical body with Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, swimming, walking, or in whatever enjoyable way possible, shows appreciation for life, body and spirit. Engaging the mind and will power in physical activity unifies the body and soul.

A personal, physical practice that evolves over time is the best way to comprehend and appreciate the full meaning of personal health.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Spiritual living is concerned with maintaining elevated consciousness in each moment of one’s life, so that one is never carried away by emotion or desire, and is always able to feel grateful and willing to serve.

Mindfulness offers an ever-unfolding process of infinitely expanding awareness, and is a learned and practiced behavior. Developing mindfulness as a habit requires intention, persistence and patience.

5. Introspection and Reflection

Living in a chaotic and busy world, pulled in many directions with a complex social matrix of advertising, opinions, advice, propaganda, and more, the personality is compelled to rise to many occasions, and the conscious and sub-conscious mind can develop conflicting interests.

Regular private introspection and reflection into one’s life creates a discourse with all versions of the self, and an opportunity for harmonization of all the fragments we divide ourselves into.

In the forms of thinking, writing, journaling, drawing, and reflecting, self-introspection is one’s greatest opportunity to understand the complete self and connect the dots among all aspects of one’s life.

6.  Meditation, Prayer, and Intention

Regular prayer and meditation is the cornerstone of spiritual cultivation, and, in all of its forms, is the act of using intention to communicate with the future. When we pray, for anything and in any way, we actively employ the principles of quantum physics on our own behalf.

Quantum physics asks the question of whether or not the design of the universe is influenced by human intention. The answer appears to be yes, and the spiritual person who prays is executing this cosmic intervention in practical terms. Simply suggesting a possibility to the universe infinitely increases its likelihood of coming to fruition.

Focused intention in the form of prayer and meditation opens up synchronicities, meaningful chance happenings, coincidences, and other signs of connectedness to spirit. In this way, and as one develops the habit of meditation and prayer, a dialogue is opened up with the cosmos and anything becomes possible.

7. Laugh and Cry

If spiritual cultivation has but one practical benefit, it is that it develops within us the humility to laugh and cry in order to mark the celebrate life. Laughing at the world is the ultimate way to acknowledge how finite, yet splendid life is. Crying is essential to our emotional survival.

Giving oneself the freedom to not take things too seriously and to laugh at obstacles makes life an effortless and enjoyable challenge. Letting oneself cry is the best way to be reminded of just how precious our humanity is. Doing both, with regularity brings tremendous emotional balance and clarity to life.


Spiritual cultivation is the ongoing commitment to the transformation of one’s life for the better. These suggestions are a humble offering of support in your journey towards the life you deserve, and a knowing nod of respect for taking on the most meaningful challenge of your life.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist esoteric arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of, the proprietor of, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. His remarkable journey of self-transformation is a testament to the power of the will and the persistence of the human spirit. He may be contacted at

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • Dylan thank you – an ever welcome reminder of what we CAN DO – every day, to raise our vibrational energy. Haha, yep Abinico, me too…..that getting up early has just never worked for me either! We are SO grateful to you Dylan, for the work you are doing, for Waking Times. I’m sure all your fellow travellers acknowledge you too – thank you!

  • So it is when trying to communicate with words. As a former M.H.P.,specializing in the treatment of people with serious mental health problems, how do I medicate an individual suffering from Hallucinations from those having”visions of certainty of outside realms”? Tell them to go to bed early, and wake up early? We are going to have to realize that because something came from Chinese Medicine does not make it better. There were all kinds of detoxification ads on T.V. until the F.D.A. shut the down as quackery. I think that #4 is psychologically impossible-how does an abused child go around thanking everything for her existence-even though she has been burned,or boiled? There are no reliable studies showing that prayer helps with synchronicities,and Dylan, a conversation with the cosmos? Really? Now laughing or even smiling is good-it releases Peptides in the brain,and crying is just part of the Human condition. Remember the Politician who got into trouble for saying”legitimate rape?” Well, mental health would site you for “Meaningful Hallucinations”>but it was a good article.

  • abinico warez

    Cool, now I know I have no chance of getting spiritually cultivated. That thing about getting up early really kills it for me.

    • loretta land

      Surprise yourself – take it one step at a time – that way, you may well find,eventually, that you want to rise early.
      Happy journey.

  • dimitri

    Quantum physics is forming into a sophisticated idolatry of sorts backed by organizing principles, if you will, such as Gaia and Sustainability. All these things are “in our heads” and may well even be serving to block individual spiritual growth.

    The Seven Habits serve as a handy reminder to keep us on track, but at the same time they’re no-brainers. They would surely be helpful to a total beginner “on the path” (for which we are grateful), but how many of us are total beginners?

    Buddha warned about getting stuck on the ways and means to enlightenment or liberation. And meditation always comes to that point where you have experienced “the answer”, only to get rebuffed. It’s a yin/yang world, isn’t it?

  • As an 80-year old father, grandfather and one interested in gaining a better world for those who follow us, it is most heartening to know there are others who also have that interest. Dylan Charles, author of Waking Times is such an individual. A man like this gives hope to all through the creation of this publication, a symbol of the caring one human being can have for all mankind. Waking Times is a gift that all must see and that should be transmitted to everyone on our Planet Earth. We need people who awaken others. Mr. Charles is such a person. This is the greatest gift one man can give to his world.
    Emmanuel Karavousanos

  • Sherry Sacred Warrior

    Greetings in the most humblest of Spirit

    I am so very grateful for your creating this beautiful websight.
    It has strengethened my Soul and Spirit all the beautiful writers here
    THANK YOU. To you sir the most best positive intention of love and hope I send to you and your family! Peace to Everyone from my heart.

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