There is no right or wrong way to approach spirituality. What’s important is to recognize that the journey is the prize. Whether you are someone who’s devoted your life to furthering your spiritual development or you’re just starting to discover your spirituality, there are important lessons that can be learned from the path you follow.
We’ve spoken with a diverse group of spiritual teachers; some are bloggers, some are authors, and all of them have a unique take on the meaning of spirituality. We asked them the following question:
“What three tips would you give for someone learning how to become more spiritual in their daily lives?”
Hopefully, their words of wisdom can light a spark that ignites your own spiritual journey. Enjoy their reflections below.
Spirituality, Change & Patience
by Katinka Hesselink
I never quite know what people mean when they talk about spirituality, so this is more about how to bring awareness into your daily life.
1) Make changes slowly
I see this a lot — people who have great intentions of changing their life are super-enthusiastic for a while, and then stop. For example, we all know how unlikely people are to actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. The problem is that mere enthusiasm can only get you started. If you want long-term change in your life, you have to start slowly, knowing the initial spurt of energy won’t last. Instead, aim at changing habits. Once a new habit is formed, it can carry your practice when the initial enthusiasm is gone. The habit will stabilize your practice, enabling inspiration to stay within it.
The problem with following only your enthusiasm is that you will start many things only to give up on them later. The result? You not only never stick with anything, but you also lose self-confidence. It is better to do one thing well than start and stop ten.
2) Take spiritual holidays & retreats
Spiritual retreats, whether at home or at a retreat center, are a great way to recharge. They can help you realize that the way you normally live is not necessarily the way you have to live. However, in order to really bring more awareness into your daily life, you will find that you also need some kind of reminder at home. This can be a short morning meditation; for instance, simply watching your breath while the coffee is brewing, or taking an hour each weekend to read a spiritual book.
3) Practice your spiritual takeaways
There’s nothing wrong with having a well-rounded understanding of your personal spiritual tradition. However, if you want to use it as a tool to transform your life, think of it as a mirror reflecting on your own life, personality traits, and relationships.
When the pastor talks about forgiveness, don’t think about that guy who needs to learn to forgive you, think instead of the grudges you can release.
When you share a beautiful quote on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, take a moment to really let it sink in for YOU in that moment. Turn away from the screen and take a deep breath, thinking about the quote you just read.
Katinka Hesselink is an online entrepreneur and spiritual blogger at All Considering. She has studied religion and spirituality for more than two decades, including theosophy, Western esotericism, and Buddhism.
Deepen Your Relationship with God
By Phil Bolsta
Meditation quiets your mind, calms your senses and opens your heart. Through the spiritual science of meditation, you can experience the peace of direct personal contact with God.
Meditation is not an emptying of the mind. It is the highest form of concentration in which the mind is focused entirely on God. Do not be discouraged if your attention drifts and worldly thoughts intrude. Simply begin again as if you had just begun. Continue your practice faithfully, with no expectations, and cherish whatever blessings come your way.
Briefly sit in silence and solitude after completing your practice in order to build a bridge of serenity between your meditation and the impatient world that awaits your return.
In time, with enough patience and practice, you will be able to access a deep inner stillness wherever you happen to be, no matter what is happening around you.
Enriching your inner life is only half the equation. If the peace and unconditional love you feel in meditation is not expressed through your every action, then you are not truly living a spiritual truth. The goal of meditation is not to avoid the world, but to live in it more consciously and fully in ways that serve humanity.
2) Practice the presence of God
Practicing the presence means keeping your love for God in your thoughts as often as possible and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with Him. Just as a parent treasures every expression of affection from a beloved child, so too is God touched by your every expression of loving devotion.
What is devotion? It is the unceasing practice of acknowledging God’s presence, with the ultimate goal of living your life as one long prayer. The greater your peace, the easier it becomes to feel God’s presence. It is not outer activity but inner restlessness that distracts you from God. Whenever you think of it, practice the presence by repeating a simple prayer like, “I love you, God,” or “Thou and I, never apart,” or simply, ‘God, God, God.”
Consistent devotional prayer generates a virtuous circle. Every prayer elevates your consciousness, bringing you closer to God, and bringing you greater peace and deepens your devotion, inspiring you to pray more frequently.
3) Practice affirmations
Affirmations help you tame the chaotic rumblings on the edge of your consciousness and replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones. What is an affirmation? It is a positive statement that a specific intention is already true. Affirmations are an easy and effective way to reshape the way you look at the world. Train yourself to think more positive, loving thoughts and you will live a more positive, loving life.
The operative word in describing affirmations is “positive”; you must affirm what you want, not what you don’t want. For instance, “I no longer spend my money foolishly,” is a constant, negative reminder that you used to waste your money. A better choice is, “I spend my money wisely.” A successful affirmation does not recall past troubles; it is a positive statement phrased in the present tense that states that from this moment forward you are choosing a better way.
Notice that the above affirmation was not phrased, “I will spend my money wisely.” If an affirmation becomes a promise to change at some undetermined point in the future rather than a statement that the change has already been made, the affirmation is rendered powerless. Why? Affirming “I will spend my money wisely” implies that, starting that afternoon, or next week, or the month after that, you will finally begin to spend your money wisely. The affirmation becomes a promise you never have to fulfill, a giant loophole that gives you free reign to continue spending your money foolishly until you finally decide that you are ready to act responsibly. If a change is envisioned in the future, that is where it will remain.
Similarly, beginning an affirmation with “I want” announces to the Universe that you are coming from a position of lacking whatever it is you want. Remember, the law of attraction states that the Universe is a giant copy machine; it does not judge your desires, it simply responds to your thoughts by giving you more of the same. Therefore, if you affirm, “I want lots of money,” you will continue to have the experience of wanting lots of money. You will always be “wanting” and never “having” because you are affirming that you “want” the money, not that you “have” it already.
A powerful way to begin an affirmation is with the words, “I am.” The Universe does not judge, it simply responds. “Okay,” says the Universe, “if that is what you are, I will give you experiences that support that statement.” Hence, the affirmation, “I am thoughtful and considerate,” is more potent than “I will be thoughtful and considerate” or “I want to be thoughtful and considerate.”
You might protest such statements are not true; you do not spend your money wisely and you are not thoughtful and considerate. So isn’t it dishonest to phrase such affirmations as if you have already made the changes? Not in the least. You are not lying to yourself, you are reprogramming your subconscious; each time you repeat an affirmation, you are positively reinforcing that programming.
More importantly, remember that your soul, your essence, that spark of the Infinite within you, is perfect and magnificent, with capacities beyond your comprehension. Therefore, whatever you affirm will indeed be true on the deepest, most meaningful level imaginable.
An affirmation is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Gradually, through the consistent use of affirmations, your conscious intent is absorbed by your unconscious mind; you begin thinking and acting in ways that support the affirmation and accelerate its manifestation. Over time, you grow into and finally become the person you wish to be. Indeed, affirmations are more about internal transformation than external outcomes. Telling yourself, “I am thoughtful and considerate” day in and day out cannot help but change your self-image. As you authentically become what you affirm, the affirmation evolves from a desire for change to an expression of gratitude.
Affirmations are a wonderful way to neutralize years of bad mental habits and the negative internal chatter that plagues us all. Besides, you’re going to talk to yourself one way or another, so you might as well have something positive to say.
Phil Bolsta is an author of several books, including Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World and has been described as a living commitment of spiritual service. He enjoys spending time with his daughter, watching baseball, and inspiring people to live positive and loving lives. Email him at email@example.com
Finding Spiritual Depth Through Commitments
By Nathan Thompson
1. Find a group to practice and study with.
It’s difficult to maintain the effort and discipline of spirituality on your own, plus it can be wonderfully supportive and life-affirming to have friends committed to a similar spiritual path as the one you’re on. After a couple of years of reading books about Buddhism and fumbling through attempts at meditation, I became a member of a local Zen center. I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn, and also that I didn’t have to do it all by myself. The energy of practicing meditation in a group is different from doing it on your own. Both are great in their own ways, but being part of a group makes it easier to keep going when things get tough. In addition, friends on the path can help you see yourself better, and illuminate strengths and weaknesses you might not unearth on your own. You will also have numerous opportunities to serve and support others, which expands your experience beyond just yourself into a more holistic, interconnected expression of spiritual life.
2. Be willing to commit to something.
One of the challenges I’ve seen for many people wanting to deepen their spiritual lives is the tendency to want to try it all and be a student of everything. It’s easy to flit around, getting excited about Kirtan one day, pagan rituals the next, and Sufi devotional prayer the following day.
There’s a lot of amazing variety of spiritual expression in the world, and it’s understandable that you’d want to taste it all. However, unless you find one or maybe two paths to really commit to for a longer period of time, it’s very difficult to go deeper. I’ve been practicing hatha yoga and Zen Buddhism for well over a decade now, and yet I still often feel like a novice. At the same time, sticking with the forms and teachings of these two practices has offered me the scaffolding to be able to plunge into my experience, learn to witness how I am arising and acting in the world, and make efforts to shift that which doesn’t serve me any longer. Given that spiritual teachings tend to be subtle, complex, and layered, it usually takes years of study and practice to digest them to a level where they fully impact your life. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be influenced by, or take comfort in, a diversity of spiritual and/or religious traditions. Even though I’m devoted to a specific set of teachings and practices, I still find plenty of inspiration elsewhere. In fact, through that devotion to Zen and yoga, I have actually become more able to hear the teachings of other ways.
3. If possible, find a teacher or mentor.
Simply put, having a spiritual mentor with more experience on the path your interested in can be an immense help. This person can offer you insights into the history, teachings, and practices. They can offer you targeted support when you’re struggling. They can be a mirror for you, so you can better see who you are in the world, and how you might want to become in the future. Teachers and mentors come in all shapes and forms. The person might be the head of a group and/or sanctioned by some authority, or they might just be someone with much more experience who comes into your life at the right time. In general, I think it’s an important spiritual practice to be open to learning from others. In the case of mentors and teachers, you can’t develop a relationship of any depth without having that openness. Relationships with teachers and mentors might be for a specific period of time, or they might end up being lifelong. There’s no real formula, and every connection is uniquely defined, but in general, you want a mentor/teacher that’s committed to openness, compassion, and sharing power in the relationship.
Nathan Thompson is a creative writer and Zen practitioner. He has been a student of yoga for more than a decade and is interested in exploring both the big questions of life and everyday details. Find more of his work on his blog Dangerous Harvests.
By Linda Pendleton
1. Acknowledge That You Are a Spiritual Being
Too often we forget that we’re spiritual beings traveling this lifetime in a physical vehicle. When you come to a full understanding that you are a spiritual being, and all the things that go along with that understanding, such as meditation and prayer, a connection to all life, compassion and love, and a true appreciation of being alive, daily problems and challenges will become easier and lighter.
2. Meditation and Prayer
Meditation and prayer are important because they not only put you in touch with the Divine, but in touch with yourself. Meditation and mindfulness becomes a beautiful opportunity for spiritual enrichment. When you receive guidance during meditation or prayer, it comes to your uncluttered and still mind with clarity.
Within your quiet and peaceful moments you open your connection with the world of spirit, allowing yourself to receive messages of love and divine inspiration. In addition to conversing with God or the Divine Source, you may also connect with your angels, spirit guides, and deceased loved ones. Meditation relieves stress and puts you in touch with your higher self. It also allows for intellectual communication at a cellular level. In the slightly altered state of meditation, much like the daydream state, the life force energy flows much freer throughout the body, and with the free energy flow, the chakras come into balance, and into alignment. It is a time of cleansing and healing of the body, mind, and spirit.
3. The Power of Choice
We can think of ourselves as a rosebud, which first begins as a small green nub and then begins to form the petals of a rose within. As the petals take shape and form, they evolve and grow, soon bursting open and revealing themselves to the world. And as the rose continues to grow, absorbing the rays of sunlight and soaking up nourishment which filters up from the roots, it continues its evolution, expanding, filling out, and maturing. It then becomes a beautiful, flourishing, and thriving rose.
Life is growth, from our first helpless cry at birth to our last breath. Life is also a personal journey and we make our choices along the way, and observe our outer world in the way we choose. We also see our inner world with our eyes alone. It is there in our inner world where we shape who we are and project an image out to the world around us. We are many things and we change moment to moment as our perceptions change: perceptions of ourselves, as well as perceptions of the outer world. We are meant to grow, to learn, and to come to new understandings.
Peace, as with love, has to come from within. In order to reconnect with peaceful and content feelings, one has to reach inward and rediscover that place of centeredness. Taking quiet time for ourselves, or quality time spent with our loved ones, walking in the woods, or along the seashore and connecting with nature, or quietly watching a beautiful sunset will do wonders to relieve stress and bring a sense of peace and oneness with all of life.
Linda Pendleton is a fiction and non-fiction author. Her lifelong interest in spirit communication, metaphysics and the paranormal has influenced her writing and research. Find more from Linda at World of Spirit, LindaPendleton.com and To Dance with Angels.
Light-Hearted Tips For Leading a Spiritual Life (From a Guy Who’s Lucky to be Alive)
I happen to be a guy who is (unfortunately) known for having survived three “near-death experiences,” so naturally, that informs every suggestion I have to make for how to live a more spiritual life. I joke (unfortunately) because I certainly don’t recommend my particular approach to self-realization for anybody else to try. I hope that I had to do it the hard way so that you won’t have to. What it does mean for me is that all the faith-based debates are over. I’m here, and I’m still alive (for the time being), to assure you of this, first and foremost:
We are extra-dimensional, spiritual beings having a physical experience on this Earth. Period. Now, I know you may have heard that before, but maybe not from someone who’s peeked behind the curtain enough to know it for a fact.
My first tip to being more spiritual is to take a minute, and actually focus on what the simple reality of the word “spiritual” implies. It’s this — that we’re really light as air, effervescent, extra-dimensional energy beings riding around in these sometimes clunky and sloppy, and occasionally elegant, bodies. That simple reality makes all of us subject to the limitations and demands of our amazing, slightly funky form. We’ve all got those same problems with our trick knee, or our bad boss, or our boyfriend, or our landlord, or whatever. It comes from having the same problems we all seem to have with the way our feelings feel, and our brains think.
If the recognition of my true, inner spiritual nature helps me witness those feelings and thoughts as being sort of unavoidable physical processes, maybe I can (temporarily) remove myself from that unnecessary mental noise and emotional turbulence, and center myself in the calm, intuitive intelligence that arises from deep within us all. That way we can restart each day with a little spiritual peace. A lot of the time, the noise in our minds is instinctively self-centered and fearful, but within that “still, small voice” we all have access to, there’s real sanity, and serenity, and compassion. So my first tip is just to recognize that tip of our spiritual iceberg.
“Heaven arms with compassion those whom it would not see destroyed.”
~Tao te Ch’ing, 67
Tip number two consists of calling out that false sense of being separate that we all have, and then finding real compassion in our hearts. Plainly put, the rest of my metaphoric iceberg is our world itself. So, let’s just stand back and take a real good look at it. That bare five o’clock shadow you see — kind of like a light mold on a rock — well, that fuzz just happens to be all of us, and everything we know. Clearly, it may be a little self-centered to think that we’re all too different from one another — or anything else on the planet, for that matter. It really does stand to reason that we are (more or less) all the same thing here.
Every occupant of our planet experiences the same consciousness, the same thoughts, feelings, hopes and losses, filtered through their form. So we really deserve to give each other a break, knowing how difficult this life can be on everyone and everything. That’s tip number two — identifying with life, and finding our real compassion, because compassion simply is the path to deeper spirituality — as well as being the source of the benevolent spirit of Gaia.
My third suggestion is to try to get a handle on just what medium our iceberg is afloat in, and how it all seems to work. You know, trying to grasp the ocean of being that is the source of everything, if that’s even possible. Here’s my best try:
It really appears to be a kind of a beautiful quantum soup. A field of sorts, made up of two parts love, one part raw creation, destruction, and pure unimaginable potential. Each of us channels consciousness, and so engages and animates each of our worlds; and then together (or often not), we create the world we live in. This mixed medium of life (which, you’ll notice is mostly love, in my formula) reflects us and what we bring to it. The medium of our material evolution is the creation, destruction, and potential part. The medium of our spiritual evolution is love.
What we are giving to our world is what we are receiving from it, always. What we are contributing is how we are creating. So my third tip is recognizing the source and power of our creativity. To be more spiritual, we just have to do our best to experience the medium of love, and to personify it.
In my new book, How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide to Happiness in This World and Beyond, I lay out my “Three Tips for Happiness,” which I suppose I could have used as these three tips for leading a more spiritual life, really. Briefly, they are: “Radical Kindness,” where you can completely transform your life by sincerely showing love and compassion to everyone you meet (the best you can); “Radical Forgiveness,” where you try to let go of any injury or injustice that your ego perceives, recognizing that everyone is facing the same challenges with life, and their karma; and “Radical Surrender,” where surrender really is not a bad thing, but becomes a kind of blissful strategy – the permission to be carried by a miraculous, benevolent force of unimaginable power and potential. Trying out these tips can be pretty transformational on a day-to-day basis, too. Did I cheat by adding those on?
All of these suggestions for leading a more spiritual life set a high bar, I know. They do demand a frank self-honesty, and extra-dimensional imagination that can be pretty intimidating — but I don’t think there’s a chance for any real growth, any realization of our true potential, without it. Besides, just trying to reach that high can pull us up a little more out of the mess our life on Earth can often be, and that’s a good thing. That’s living spiritually when our iceberg simply melts, and us with it, into each other, and what we can really be as one.
Robert Kopecky is an author and artist whose essays and stories can be found at his blog, Art, Faith, and the Koko Lion or on BeliefNet, The Mindful Word, Spiritual Networks, and other places around the web. His book, How to Survive Life (and Death), can be found on Amazon, and at all major bookstores – but remember to support your local bookstores, too!
A Daily Deepening of Spiritual Life
By Amy MacLeod
How can we become more spiritual in our daily lives? I put this enormous question to my beloved guides during meditation and asked for three suggestions. They responded:
Love fuels all existence. Whether the spiritual quest be one of understanding divinity or improving one’s own spiritual condition, love fuels and energizes the essence of who you truly are. Love, or “presence,” is engaged by living with your breath as it brings you back to “now.” At the moment of remembrance, you are immersed, bathed and rejuvenated in the highest form — divine love. Experiencing love is like experiencing time. Consider how humankind caters to time continuously. Time cannot be seen, felt, heard or tasted, yet various devices provide the assurance of staying in and on time. As a clock is to time, breath is to love.
Next, is meditation.
Still, silent attention to breath creates vitality for clear and nourishing spiritual growth. A daily practice connects to a deep understanding of who you truly are. It is the “starter” for spiritual living. To explain, years ago people used a “starter” mix to stave off starvation. A loved one would share a dollop of starter with a traveler. It was carefully carried from one location to another to be used for preparing a life-sustaining breakfast food. The traveler knew the starter must be kept in a container with a secure lid. When the container was opened, a liberal amount of starter would be used. Since the mixture would continuously grow, the vessel had to be large enough to allow for expansion. If the starter was not used, the vital mixture would ooze from its container and flow without purpose. Meditation is the “starter” for a healthy spiritual condition.
Each human on this planet chose this incarnation to serve humankind during this greatest of transformational periods. Humans are slowly remembering this purpose. There is no need to seek greater spiritual status. You are masters, co-creating this period of rising frequencies and higher dimensional levels. You have merely forgotten. As you read this material, we welcome your awakening. A deep resonance in your soul tells you this is true.
We leave you with great appreciation for being of service to you. Your beauty is indescribable and it’s yours to discover in love, meditation and remembrance.
Amy MacLeod is a builder of spiritual conditions. On her blog, she shares actual life events in which messages of love are embedded – and spirituality grows.
A Practical Approach to Life and Living
By Nick Roach
The first question to address is what do we mean by “spiritual?”
To some, it’s feeling closer to nature. To others, it may be the joy of giving, completing a difficult challenge, or surviving a near-death experience. In fact, there are any number of ways that people can describe as helping them to feel more “spiritual” or more “alive,” but none of these is how I understand the word…
To me, as a teacher of Self-Realisation, Spiritual Enlightenment, and God-realisation — to list a few names given to this state of being — to be spiritual is to be in conscious connection with one’s true nature; self-aware. Self-awareness is a process rather than a destination, but as one goes deeper into being, into the inner truth that is their original state, they come to realize the source of all that is experienced, as their self, the one self (sometimes written with a capital ‘S,’ to separate it from the usual likes and dislikes of the person).
So, to the question at hand:
What three tips would you give for someone learning how to become more spiritual in their daily lives?
1) The first and most simple step is to practice being more conscious or self-aware.
Nothing else — not climbing high mountains, swimming with sharks, working with those in need, giving away all your possessions, and not nurturing beautiful flowers will help one to become more conscious, without actually being more conscious. And yet all of the above can assist if done with the presence of mind to watch and really experience the state of being. Awareness is the vital ingredient. Everything else is just expressing the emotional need to experience, and doing so often perpetuates the human condition, instead of addressing it.
2) Having said the above, is there a second?
Actually yes, there is. And that is to be conscious, particularly when the going gets tough. This may sound like a repeat of the first step, but it deserves its own place as it is when things are difficult emotionally that most of the work is done. One can sit in peaceful meditation for hour after hour, day after day, apparently without a care in the world, but if one then gets up to face the duties of the day and permits the mind’s imagination to race and regurgitate a painful situation, for example, then the lesson has been missed. It is then that one needs to remain conscious. Being aware of the mind/emotion connection, when it is screaming for you to go into the imagination and ride its merry-go-round, is painful. It is the mind that feeds the emotions, and it is the emotions that drive the mind, and this cycle needs to be slowed and eventually stopped. This is achieved through being conscious. Both the mind and the emotions cannot survive for long under the spotlight of conscious attention.
And this is NOT about trying to avoid the situation by putting one’s attention on something else, as doing so would also mean the lesson and thus the opportunity for further growth has been missed. If one is to become more conscious, then this needs to be done consciously…
So, what happens?
At the start of one’s move to become more spiritual, the practice of being conscious is just that: a practice. The science behind it is often not even heard or read, and certainly not known. Here I will explain the process and why tip 2 is so vital:
It is said that everything is One, and the spiritual life is about realizing this. What is not so widely talked about is the emotion that is creating the external situation of the person’s life (and in fact, all life — all existence). There is an old saying, “as within, so without,” and this sums up the situation pretty well.
When faced with an emotionally painful situation, what is not therefore generally acknowledged is, to the extent that one can dissolve the emotion inside, the situation outside will improve. And the eventual result of such an approach is that life and living become effortless.
The practice is simply to remain aware of where you are and what you are feeling — such as what you can see, hear, smell, feel; as well as the emotion as it feels like it is dying inside — and mentally hold on to the awareness of the problem. This is possible because when one is disturbed emotionally, it is very rare that one does not know why. (It could be that there are a number of things, if they have been allowed to build up, but there will be a biggest one at the forefront). Holding the awareness of the problem in the mind WITHOUT actually reliving the scenario will keep you conscious, and WILL dissolve the emotion connected to the problem that one is feeling AND that is creating the external situation. It is one and the same.
3) So, what’s left? It’s quite simple — one simply has to live their life…
But what does that mean? How can you do anything else?
Once one is conscious and aware of feelings, one becomes increasingly aware of ever-increasing subtleties of emotion, as well as inner intuition. And therein lies the lesson. Feeling inside, and then doing what needs to be done.
You see, if one is in a situation that is causing them to be unhappy, even if one is conscious and facing and dissolving the arising emotion, this will never be enough if there is some action that one should be taking but for whatever reason, they are not doing so. Avoiding taking action simply means more emotion is always being created. So one is in effect creating their own hell whilst at the same time demolishing it, like treading water: working hard but getting nowhere.
So, as well as being conscious and aware, especially when times are difficult, one should always endeavor to see if there is any action that needs to be taken. It may be a phone call, a letter, looking something up, even having a difficult conversation, or making a huge life change. Whatever it is, until the intention is in place to take the required action, the emotion will remain. And the situation can change at any moment. As the emotion is being dissolved, at some point there will usually be the knowledge as to what action needs to be taken in order to resolve the situation totally. When there is not this knowledge, then no action is required at that moment in time. But keep watching…
It can be that simply making the decision to carry out a certain action will be enough to dispel the emotion. This is of course fine. If the situation changes again simply from one making a decision to do something, and it seems that no action is now needed, then that is great too. We are not talking about changing one’s life specifically (though that can indeed happen as a result), but instead this is about becoming more conscious. It does, however, require an increasing amount of self-honesty, to follow through and live a conscious and honest life.
In summary, the 3 tips are as follows:
1 – Practice being aware, as often as you can. 2 – Pay particular attention to the above when faced with an emotional situation. 3 – Look continuously within for any indication that some action needs to be taken.
As the Buddha is reported to have said, “Do not believe what anyone tells you, even if I say it, unless it agrees with your own logic and common sense.” Ultimately, this is all about you, the individual, and how self-aware or conscious you are.
There is no failure here. Everything is always as it should be — existence unfolding, emotion experiencing, and consciousness simply “being.” You can only do what you do.
Nick Roach is a spiritual teacher who teaches enlightenment and self-realisation in the simplest and most direct way possible. He’s not shy about declaring his own enlightenment and is always open and willing to share his experiences. Find him at NickRoach.co.uk.
By Cathy Barney
As we wade more deeply into the spiritual life, becoming more of who we truly are, a wholeness falls into place and pieces of our lives become less separated. We begin to live everyday spirituality.
Three ways to facilitate that journey — in my experience — center on silence, community, and regular spiritual practice.
For me, cultivating silence and reflection has been crucial. This is the place I quiet myself for attuned, authentic listening to Spirit. Silence can be spent in meditation, prayer, mindfulness or merely being in that liminal, receptive space. The only requirement is consent — mine.
Quakerism has taught me so much about the need for and graciousness of turning inward. They call it centering and there are a number of methods for this process. Whichever you practice, remember to be gentle with yourself. As much as we are built for contemplation, we are also are wired for stimulation. As an artist, I am visual, so imagining my thoughts as stray clouds or ships passing through and letting them go has been extremely beneficial. I notice and let them pass, not getting ensnared and, when I do, not punishing myself. Other means can be to focus on the breath or a mantra (short meaningful phrase or word) and returning to each as a reminder. Centering prayer is a freeing way of just being in the silence.
The silence can be a place of mere being, where we recharge, imagine, connect with the Divine, empty or fill ourselves. It is magical and necessary. Often, this is where I receive insight into my life and spiritual nature. The silence is always available, it is we who must make the effort to slow down and still ourselves.
The only thing richer than experiencing silence myself is doing so corporately, which is the essence of Quaker worship. There is power and energy in being, meditating, and praying within a group. The residual of each other’s focused presence connects us more intimately and moves us collectively deeper.
Community keeps us accountable, nurtures, teaches, encourages, and pushes us toward wholeness. Even the challenges of other people can smooth our rough edges. Spiritual friendship or companionship, one-on-one relationships, also offer community and the opportunity to safely explore who we are, what we question, and mirror for one another the way forward. Positive community creates energy, unites, and bonds us.
Adopting a regular spiritual practice serves to ground us in a dizzying secular world of over-commitment and isolating technology. That practice need not be daily and can vary. A practice or spiritual discipline reminds us who we are and how very thin the veil is between worlds.
My own practice has vacillated over the years and included fasting, journaling, devotional reading, Lectio Divina (slow, sacred reading), centering prayer, labyrinth walking, yoga, mindfulness, and even prayer as I swim laps. Movement has a way of easing the mind. Walking in nature and running work well for some people. Meditating on an image, icon, mantra or passage are other ways into genuine communion. I have discovered that making art can become extremely prayerful, where I lose myself, all track of time and feel Spirit’s energy flow through me and onto the page, canvas or clay. The same is true of journaling, where often, the questions of my heart are answered. As in any practice, I must burn off the everyday by setting my intention and, layer by layer, letting the outer world melt. That may mean stream-of-consciousness writing, walking, swimming or several rounds of postures before I can center, attentive to the divine within. At times, I am not able to center and others, instantly transported. Lately, I have been lighting a candle as I sit down to work, a reminder of Spirit’s illumination as well as the worldly things I wish to burn away.
These three means of cultivating spirituality often overlap, intersect, and intertwine. Occasionally, I enter silence with companions, often moved to journal, create a piece of art, am lead to a particular passage or must take a walk outside. However, there are also times I feel so out of the flow that almost nothing seems to reset my path, but I persevere (with silence, community, and a practice) anyway having learned that God is there no matter what I may be experiencing in the moment. I find comfort in silence, a spiritual practice and when accompanied in my most dark, desperate times. Routinely, they open me to a way of living centered on my spirituality, calling me to return when the world lures me away and reminding me who I am.
Cathy Barney is a trained spiritual nurturer, artist, writer, blogger and founder of a non-profit arts exploration for at-risk 4th-6th graders in her neighborhood. She also hosts small groups, workshops and retreats as creative outlets and spiritual nourishment. Find more of Cathy’s work at Salon for the Soul.
In the Present Moment, There Are No Problems
By Leonard Jacobson
I prefer to speak of the awakening of human consciousness, rather than speak about how to become more spiritual. One can be more and more spiritual, and yet not be awake.
What do I mean by awakening? Most of us live almost exclusively within the world of the mind. This means that we are always in the past or future and our thoughts never stop. Our sense of ourselves is defined and limited by our past, including all the limiting beliefs from childhood. The world of the mind is illusory in nature. It is based on memory and imagination. It is not real, and yet to the extent that we believe that it is real, we are lost in a world of illusion and we do not realize it.
With awakening, we open fully into the present moment, which is the doorway to love, truth and oneness.
I teach a two-step path of awakening. The first step involves learning the art of being present. The second involves becoming a master of your mind and ego. Both steps are necessary for true awakening.
When you are present, you come out of the past and future world of the mind and so you are free of the limitations of the past and anxiety about the future. They simply disappear because the present moment is free of the past and future. As you deepen into presence, you will experience a completely different dimension of yourself and of life. You will discover that when you are present, you are loved, you are accepting and you are compassion. You are empowered from within and you exist in the realization of oneness. All these qualities of presence flow into your day to day life and relationships. You are free to be all that you are and you are no longer concerned with the judgments, opinions, and expectations of others. Your life is gradually transformed and you are not doing anything other than becoming more and more present.
As you deepen into presence, all your problems disappear. Whatever you have previously regarded as a problem or difficult time in your life is now seen as an opportunity for awakening. In the present moment, there are no problems, just situations to respond to and if you respond from presence, then your response is always conscious, empowered, and appropriate.
At the deeper levels of presence, heaven on earth is revealed. You might even encounter the living presence of God in all things present, but this will be something that you experience for yourself and not something that you believe in.
There are four keys to becoming a master of your mind and ego.
The first is to come into right relationship with the ego. What is the ego? What is its role in your life? Why does it resist your being present, and how can you overcome its resistance? The answers to these questions will radically change your life.
The second key is to free yourself from judgment. To the extent that you judge yourself or others, you cannot be present. Judgment imprisons you in separation. With judgment, you hurt yourself and you hurt others. As you transcend judgment, you will open into an entirely new level of love and acceptance.
The third key is to liberate the feelings repressed within you from the past. Otherwise, there will always be someone or something that will trigger those repressed feelings. Then you are caught in the past which you project onto the present. You will have to learn how to express those repressed emotions in a conscious and responsible way and in a way that releases those emotions.
The fourth suggestion is to bring awareness to how you lose yourself in others. If you are seeking love, acceptance or approval from others, then at a very subtle level you are losing yourself in others. The same is true if you are afraid of rejection or judgment. This is how you give away your power.
As you become more and more present, you will experience a much greater sense of the sacred in everyday life. You will experience what the great Masters and sages have been speaking of for many centuries. You will experience presence, love, truth, and oneness. You will be more spiritual, but more than that, you will be awake.
Leonard Jacobson is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. He has been teaching people how to be present for over 30 years. Find more of Leonard’s work at www.leonardjacobson.com.
Infuse your day with intention and awareness
By Judy Moulton
1. Begin and end your day with a quiet moment of reflection.
Try getting up a little earlier — before the day begins. Early morning is an optimal time for inner connection. Cherish this quiet moment of transition from sleep to activity. As you sit comfortably, perhaps with a hot cup of tea, notice and connect to the flow of your breath to ground yourself in preparation for your daily duties. This can also be a time for prayer or meditation. Before you move forward with your day, pause to acknowledge and connect to the presence of the Divine within you. This is a place of stability from which you can extend yourself to others. In the evening, use the last quiet moments before sleep to once again connect to your breath and develop an awareness of a deeper inner reality. Consciously release the day’s events so that your sleep is sound and restful.
2. Be the Observer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaotic rhythm of our daily lives and routines. Although challenging at first, attempt to observe yourself as you move through your day. Set an intention to pause throughout the day to observe your breath, actions, interactions with others, and your inner dialogue with yourself. This is especially helpful in moments of stress or difficulty. Instead of attaching to or judging your thoughts, simply notice them. Spend more time observing nature. Look up as you walk outside. This conscious observation can begin to shift your perspective and instead of looking at the day as something to just “get through,” we can begin to step out of the chronic state of busyness and appreciate a deeper experience of life as more interesting and enjoyable.
3. Find Inspiration.
Find a spiritual path that resonates with you and then study and follow that path with full commitment. If you find this difficult, you can cultivate the intention to find your path and then be open to the possibilities. Read uplifting texts that support your path and increase your enthusiasm for your spiritual pursuits. Listen to beautiful music with a positive message. Seek out the company of like-minded people who have similar aspirations and cultivate connections and community. Finding inspiration in your environment will enrich your experience and provide encouragement for your spiritual pursuits.
Judy Moulton is an E-RYT 500-hour teacher trained and certified by the Himalayan Institute. Practicing yoga and meditation since 2006 and teaching since 2008, Judy believes in the healing and transformative power of yoga and has experienced its benefits in her own life. She relies on the support of her own personal practice in her daily life as a teacher, wife and mother. Judy is a contributor to YogaInternational.com and lives, works, and teaches at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA.
Deepening Awareness of Spirit’s Presence
By Dianne Eppler Adams, C.A.P.
Are you eager to become more spiritual? For many years, I believed that it was important for me to “become more spiritual.” Attending workshops and reading the writings of spiritually-evolved people was important to my spiritual growth.
However, all my studies and learning have led me to realize that I do not need to become more spiritual. What I seek is to deepen and widen my awareness of Spirit’s presence already in my everyday life. I was not any less spiritual before I began reading and attending workshops. Nor am I more spiritual now. Spirit is forever present in every molecule of my physical, mental and emotional existence.
With that understanding, I offer three tips that have helped me increase my awareness of Spirit in my everyday life.
Notice and Wonder
For most of us, our everyday lives are filled with activities. We run from one thing to another, barely noticing the simpler things of life surrounding us. Have you ever taken the time to just wonder about the caterpillar crawling up your sidewalk? Whether you chose to formally meditate or simply take a walk in nature, the first key to increasing awareness is to make time to notice your environment, your feelings, and what you are thinking. Step back from the rolling chain of events in your life and come fully into the present moment. Become aware of all it contains. In the present moment, Spirit reveals itself in the calm, peace, and joy experienced there.
Not one of us has escaped the ravages of self-doubt and many of us have wallowed in a form of self-hate that can be quite devastating. However, if Spirit is present in every molecule, then we are sacred beings. We were created by a loving creator and, though we may fall short of our own expectations of ourselves, our worth was established at creation. Of course, it is natural to continually strive toward perfection. Yet, in truth, there is no perfection to be found here on Earth. The striving toward perfection is a beautiful process that urges us to grow and improve. We must cultivate self-acceptance and self-love in order to express the best of who we are. Without acceptance of our own gifts, we might not freely offer them to the world and, make no mistake, the world is in need of you!
Embrace Others with Compassion
With the knowledge that our self-worth was established at creation, it is easier to reach out to others. It is easier to express compassion when they don’t live up to our expectations. We can recognize Spirit as present in them as it is in us and know they are doing the best they can at their present level of awareness. So much of our interpersonal conflict can be eliminated through compassion. Whoever you find it difficult to deal with — a parent, a spouse, a boss or a neighbor — needs love and acceptance as much as you do. If you can look past their actions, you might find underneath their actions an awkward call for connection.
As I see it, we who are seeking to be more spiritual in our daily lives need merely to open our awareness to the love of our creator, which helps expand our self-love, and then generates our greater capacity to embrace others with compassion. You are already a Spirit-filled human being, worthy to be loved and to love, who is seeking to deepen and widen your awareness of what is already true. I wish you godspeed on your journey!
Dianne Eppler Adams is a spiritual mentor, intuitive astrologer, and bestselling author who shares uplifting astrological/spiritual insight to help others banish fear from their lives and enhance their confidence. Find more of Dianne’s work at Spirit in Matters.
Everything In Life Is Spiritual, Given Our True Identity
By Neale Donald Walsch
The first tip I would offer to someone wishing to become more “spiritual” in their daily life would be to consider the possibility that life is not divided into the “spiritual” and the “non-spiritual,” but that everything in life — all of its moments, events, circumstances, situations, and interactions — are part of what “spirituality” is. This may seem obvious to some, and not so obvious to others. It was not clear to me functionally, although I may have understood this conceptually, before my conversations with God experience. That is, I may have embraced this as a theory, but I did not know how to implement it as a practice in my day-to-day experience.
Following my conversations with God, I remembered who I really am and why I am living in the realm of physicality upon the Earth. These are not small rememberings, and so these lead me to my second tip for others: Do whatever you can, use whatever tool you can find (a book, a workshop, an online program, a DVD, a membership in a church or group, or all of the above), to remind yourself of your true identity as an individuation of divinity, expressing through your humanity. Most human beings are living a case of mistaken identity, and it is for this reason that most lives are less than fully happy, and the world is in the shape that it’s in.
The fastest way I know of, the most effective tool of which I am aware, with which to activate tip #2 is to give to another every experience you wish for yourself. If you wish to remind yourself on a continuing basis of your true identity, remind others on a continuing basis of their true identity. Indeed, in all things, do unto others as you would have it done unto you. This is more than a spiritual aphorism or a moral injunction. This is an instruction on the workings of the mechanics of the universe. This is how life works.
The third tip I would offer is contained in a simple 19-word, the two-sentence revelation that I was given in conversations with God when I begged God to tell me why my life was not working, and what I could do to make it work. In a response that I will never forget, God replied: “Your life is not about you. It is about everyone whose life you touch, and how you touch it.”
That announcement changed my life, allowing me to merge my local self, and its experience, with my universal self and its experience. I was given to remember that my life on Earth was not about the insignificant desires, or even the survival, of my tiny local self, but about the purpose and intentions of my wondrous universal self, which came to Earth with a single set of objectives: To recreate myself anew in each golden moment of now in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever I held about who I am, to give people back to themselves, and to change the world’s mind about God. I would offer as a tip to others the embracing of this set of objectives for themselves as well if doing so feels in concert and in harmony with their deepest inner truth and knowing.