Spiritual practices versus worship:

Spiritual practices, like meditation, yoga and vegetarianism, have often been thought to characterize Eastern religion more than Western. Perhaps this comes from the perception that Eastern religion is more marked than Western religion by mysticism. This perception might be true to some degree, but even Western religious traditions that eschew mystical practices often have many practices and rituals which could count as a 'spiritual practice.'

In any case, Western religions, speaking generally, tend to focus on professed theological ideas more than in the east. The Islamic salat, for example, confesses the shahada, and Christian prayer in its many forms often focuses on God, God's character, Christ, or the surroundings of the person praying. By contrast, Buddhist meditation on koans focuses on absurd paradoxes as the key to the emptying of the (no-)self (anatman).

It may be useful to the reader to compare and contrast the notion of spiritual practice with that of worship, as well as the notions adoration, veneration, and prayer.

Hindu practices:

In Hinduism, the practice of cultivating spirituality is known as sadhana.

Japa, the silent or audible repetition of a mantra, is a common Hindu spiritual practice.

Buddhist practices:

In Zen Buddhism, meditation (called zazen), the writing of poetry (especially haiku), painting, calligraphy, flower arranging, and the maintenance of Zen gardens are considered to be spiritual practices. The extensive Japanese and Korean Tea Ceremonies are also considered spiritual.

Chinese practices:

Some martial arts, like Taichi, Aikido and jujutsu, are considered spiritual practices by their practitioners.

New Age and new religious movement practices:

Passage meditation was a practice recommended by Eknath Easwaran which involves the memorization and silent repetition of passages of scripture from the world's religions.

Adidam (the name of both the religion and practice) taught by Adi Da Samraj uses an extensive group of spiritual practices including ceremonial invocation (puja) and body disciplines such as exercise, a modified yoga, dietary restrictions and bodily service. These are all rooted in a fundamental devotional practice of Guru bhakti based in self-understanding rather than conventional religious seeking.

Muslim practices:

Spiritual practices that are practised by Sufis include Dhikr, Muraqaba, Qawwali, Sama and Sufi whirling.

Christian practices:

Spiritual practices that have characterized Western religion include prayer, baptism, monasticism, chanting, celibacy, the use of prayer beads, mortification of the flesh, Christian meditation, and Lectio Divina.

The Religious Society of Friends (also known as the Quakers) practices silent worship, which is punctuated by vocal ministry. Quakers have little to no creed or doctrine, and so their practices constitute a large portion of their group identity.

A well-known writer on Christian spiritual disciplines, Richard Foster, has emphasized that Christian meditation focuses not of the emptying of the mind or self, but rather on the filling up of the mind or self with God.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Spiritual Healing. The Official Guide to Learning is Rebbie Straubing.

Dr. Rebbie Straubing is a pioneer of spiritual healing and an internationally acclaimed student of the Abraham-Hicks teachings. In her unusual work, Rebbie prefers to replace the word "healing" with the phrase "Joyful Harmonious Expressiveness" or simply "jhe" and she has developed the groundbreaking system of spiritual healing called "YOFA jhe Sessions."

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