01 Mar Get Spiritual Part 2
You must possess an inner calmness of the mind, a degree of stability within to live a happy and joyful life. Following on from a tumultuous month in December, it became very apparent to me that I was standing on unstable ground. To dramatically exit a New Years Eve party and sob into a pillow all night was not living my best life. Things were tough, they still are tough but it’s how we balance and stabalise the mind during rocky times that will be our ultimate saviour. I am not a religious person, so it wasn’t going to be God that reached out a helping hand, or prayer to a higher power. The only person to reach in, hoist me out and slap me across the head, was me. Something clicked after New years. Some voice inside me told me that this is enough. I can’t go on obsessing over my health, feeling sorry for myself and falling victim to my circumstances. I have managed to call in a search and rescue party for myself before at age 21 after my Mum’s death – I could certainly do it now.
In order to reinforce the weak foundation that lay beneath me and start building a palace on top, I made the conscious decision to become more spiritual. I didn’t exactly know how this was going to look for me, but I did what I know best – I learned about it. As I shared in my previous post, spirituality means different things to different people. I had began dabbling in Eastern practices such as yoga and meditation, yet hadn’t formed any concrete beliefs. This is okay. Spirituality isn’t necessarily following a religion, it’s about connecting with something that shifts something in you. Over my 6 week Christmas holidays, I read a number of books and listened to probably a hundred podcasts on happiness and mindset. With each word I read or listened to, my draw towards spiritual practice grew stronger. What began to form was a mish mash of things that worked for me and have now lead to MY spiritual belief:
The books that have shaped my spirituality so far include:
Some amazing podcasts include:
As I listened, read and watched, I immersed myself in each and every word. Some things resonated, some didn’t. But something that had began as a bud the year before was blossoming into something special. I ferociously highlighted verses in texts and took notes as I listened. The words of these spiritual masters filled me with “ah-ha” moments and all started to make more sense. I had listened to the exact same content prior to this but it’s like my ears were blocked. Looking back on it now, I was hearing these words, but I wasn’t fully comprehending or connecting with it. But now, I was mentally ready for so much more. The best way to explain it was that I could almost FEEL the chambers of my brain opening up. Making room for the storage of ideology and belief. When you are truly ready for a more spiritual life, something in your consciousness clicks over and all of a sudden, life makes sense, you see the message in every experience you encounter, life just seems clearer. This doesn’t just happen one day. I wasn’t blessed or lucky.
I…me…myself made the VERY CONSCIOUS decision that I wanted something better for myself.
In order for me to connect with a more spiritual self, I found it helpful to find a spiritual master. In The Happiness Project. Rubin shares how finding and imitating a spiritual master is a useful way to learn about yourself and how you can work towards self-improvement. But how to you select just one?!? There are so many. Who you choose is totally up to you. They don’t have to be religious or self-identified spiritual gurus. It could be a mentor, someone who has achieved greatness in their lives or an excellent role model etc. The most important thing is that they have a message and readily share and/or model it in their day-to-day lives. I for one, know for a fact that my husband would opt for a totally different spiritual master than I would. I connect with individuals who share messages of happiness and spirituality, while I know my husband connects more with successful, business savvy role models who focus on mindset. Neither is better than the other. Once you have identified your master – read more, watch videos or listen to podcasts. If you can talk to them – do that! Once the life and beliefs of someone begin to stand out to you and capture your attention, set the intention to learn more about them. More often than not, a good spiritual master will have modelled or shared some excellent life lessons and strategies. Upon learning a little about their lives, the strategies they apply and their tips and tricks, you can work out how to apply these practices to your daily life in order to come more transcendent. Rubin shares that when we connect with their lives and stories, we pick up on some things and not on others. Ultimately, this teaches you A LOT about yourself. The key is to be very observant of which things your are drawn towards.
When embarking on a spiritual journey, it’s important for each of us to decide whether a particular practice is appropriate for us. Sometimes a practice will not appeal to us initially, and before it can be effective, we need to understand it better. For me, things all began to make sense when I read ‘The Dalai Lama’s – The Art of Happiness.’ Holy smokes. This book was like a bible to me. So many messages, lessons and teachings hit me deep at my core. I loved how the book shared the teachings of Buddhism in conjunction with modern psychology. Century old teachings married with research was the perfect match for my western brain. As I read, I found lots of connections with Buddhism. As Rubin said, what you connect with when exploring a spiritual master, tells you a lot about yourself. Reading the Dalai Lama’s words,I liked the idea that we don’t need the perfect body, the perfect mate, jobs or money. He shared that because right now, in this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness. This stood out for me as i reflected on all the habits I had tried to form since starting this project in May. While it was all well and good to drink enough water, be silly and start projects . The ones that bought me the most joy and happiness, were the ones that were about the mind – be grateful, reflect daily, meditate, and get spiritual. This was where it all started to make sense for me. The secret to our happiness, our good future is within our own hands and not reliant on the outside world.
Finding balance between any spiritual approach is essential to finding balance with yourself. This means combining study and learning with the practices of contemplation and reflection. As you begin your quest to find your spiritual master, be sure to observe an imbalances between academic or intellectual learning and practical implementation. In other words, if you read too much but don’t practice, you could risk intellectualising the process. Narrow minded attitudes lead to extreme thinking. For example, as part of Buddhist practice, meditation is a contemplative process. If I read too much theory and didn’t really sit back and contemplate how I could apply it – i.e. meditate or become more mindful, I would risk over analysing the teachings and becoming consumed by the many messages. For the individual following the teachings of a more western master (i.e. Tony Robbins), they may read and research all they can about how Tony becomes wildly wealthy. But unless they apply some strategies of self-reflection, calmness of the mind etc, they could become all too focused on the theory and not so practical in the application. Here, it all becomes a little pointless. To really get the most out of any spiritual path, you need to stop along your journey and take it all in. You need to explore all the avenues, side streets and cul de sacs, not just take the direct highway route. It may the the quickest, but you certainly don’t get the most out of it.
So you have identified with your master… What they is gospel to you. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT let this pigeon hole your belief system. The most spiritually sound person is one who respects all religions, traditions and practices. There is absolutely no point taking a spiritual or religious path if you are going to judge the beliefs of others. Everybody has the right to be a happy person. Everyone has the right to overcome suffering. So if someone is deriving happiness or benefit from a particular religious tradition, it becomes important to respect the rights of others, thus we must learn to respect all major religions. This one got me. Before finding my spiritual path, I couldn’t fathom how people could follow some religions. I honestly looked at them like they were missing a chromosome. Now I have come to respect that if religion or belief bring a person true and knowing happiness, peace and contentment, who am I to judge?! Upon some self-reflection, maybe deep down I was envious of their faith? Or maybe because I had never connected with faith myself, I couldn’t believe that anyone else truly experienced it. I see now the value and make the commitment to honor and celebrate the belief and faith of others.
As I explored my spiritual master, texts and podcasts. Some major themes and strategies for living a more spiritual life stood out for me. Although I had become more spiritual, I realised there was so much more to it. Many of the teachings pointed me in the directions of a number of strategies and resolutions I needed to focus on in order to actually become spiritual. It became very apparent that I had only simply “tuned in” to spirituality. It would take me a lot of practicing in order to GET spiritual. I think I appreciate now, that it is a lifetime practice! I am sure that as I continue to learn, this list will continue to evolve, but for now, these are some strategies that I have begun to apply as resolutions that will form the basis of my upcoming posts.
Strategies for spirituality:
Let go and forgive stop holding on to your past. Forgive those who have wronged you in order to open up to opportunities that will serve you
Be vulnerable – communicate your inner feelings to the people who surround you. Don’t hide behind bravery to impress or benefit others.
Practice self-love – You can’t give yourself to others, until you give to yourself. Make time to do things that light you up. Make yourself a priority. Heal old wounds and take the time to work towards a better version of yourself
Cultivate intimacy and compassion for others – Work to gain some perspective on the background of those around you. Make room for feelings of goodwill for all those that you encounter.
Serve others – On the basis of your understanding of those you encounter, formulate ways that you can be of service to others. Through goodwill, kind gestures, favours or even sending kind thoughts
Be present and in the moment – stop thinking about your past and worrying about your future. The only moment you really, truly have is right now. Everything else is but a dream. Feel the present moment and appreciate that every moment is a gift and nothing is certain in the future.
Meditate or practice mindfulness – Once you realise that the present moment is all you have, take time to practice quieting your mind and taking in everything that is before you. Stop the rat race of modern life and learn to be contemplative in the stillness of your mind. The answers to all your questions lies within this moment.
Radiate positivity – Everyone loves a positive person. Act the way you feel. If you aren’t feeling great… fake it til you make it! Your vibe attracts your tribe. To call the right energy in, you have to put that energy out there!
Let go of comparison – As soon as you realise that you are traversing your own path and that what others are doing around you means nothing in the big scheme of things, you can begin to run your own race. Comparison breeds regret. Everything you are doing is leading you on YOUR path.
Release expectations – Expectations ruin relationships – stop “shoulding” all over yourself and others. Accept everything for what it is and appreciate the lesson in every obstacle. Anxiety and depression manifests in the expectations you place on life. A true appreciation for what is allows you to blissfully relish in every moment.
Clean up your act – Things or people in your life that aren’t serving you and your spiritual purpose? Clean them out honey!!! You deserve the best conditions to live your best life.
Be a positive role model for change – Opinions get you nowhere. Now you live a more spiritual existence, it’s time to model it. People are naturally drawn to people who model without apology and don’t enforce their beliefs on others. Get people on board by being you positive, calm, forgiving, kind and compassionate self!
I can’t wait to share all that i have learned and experienced since putting these strategies into practice. I have come to know and appreciate how we honestly don’t know how much longer I have left in this precious life.
Begin to live everyday regret free as if it were your last. Positive change is coming your way.