Symbols are commonly used while performing spiritual practices such as prayer, self-introspection, contemplation and meditation.

Symbols are objects or images that help the mind focus on abstract concepts such as peace or compassion. Or, they are used to represent the divine such as a saint, a master or God. They uplift and bring peace to the mind.

How to choose a symbol

Use objects and images that have a special significance for you.

There are innumerable symbols from all cultures and traditions around the world.

Religious symbols are used by millions of people to find solace and connection with the masters or teachings in some way

How to use a symbol

How do you use a symbol? Let’s say that you are seeking guidance through prayer. Perhaps you have a deep reverence and love for Mother Mary. You are attracted to her unconditional love, acceptance and merciful nature.

You may choose to keep a little image of her in a quiet corner of your home which you use for contemplation and meditation. Every time you look at her image, your heart expands in gratitude and peace. You imagine Mother Mary speaking to you, consoling and supporting you through a difficult issue.

Maybe you are attracted to the serenity and even-mindedness of the Buddha. You may keep a little statue of him when you sit for your meditation practice to invoke those same feelings in your mind.

Perhaps you’ve been through extremely difficult times and you are sincerely seeking answers to understand what life is about, why you are suffering and want to know how you can find peace.

You may invoke the grace of the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. She is the goddess of knowledge, inspiration and learning. You could use an image of her to help you gain direction and inspiration in your life.

Even if you do not belong to a particular religion but like the symbol associated with it, there is no harm in using it in your spiritual practice.

Spirituality does not place any borders between us.

Symbols are simply a means to an end. They are not the end itself.

As my Guru, Swami Chinmayananda said, “You don’t worship the idol, you revere the ideal behind the idol”.

Using a symbol for your spiritual practice is a means to springboard your mind onto something higher and more peaceful.

The end goal is inner peace and oneness with Source.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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