Where are you on the spiritual path?
Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person? Do you realize that sometimes when you are in a traffic jam, or when someone disagrees with you, it all goes for a toss? Worries, sorrows, and disturbances may all be a hindrance to you on your way to enlightenment. As a Sadhak (A sincere seeker), you have to move past these obstacles. So what do you do?
Here are a few insights to help further your spiritual growth -
- Increase your awareness – with meditation
The first thing is to become aware of your state of mind. With awareness, the storm starts to subside. Even as you read this, be aware of what is happening in your mind. What do you notice? Your mind is agreeing or disagreeing, saying "yes" or saying "no.” Spirituality means, being aware of your mind, aware of what is happening inside and around you. Practicing meditation every day plays a significant role in developing such awareness. Meditation practices such as the Sahaj Samadhi Meditation taught at The Art Of Living centers worldwide offer an easy and effortless way to meditate.
- Remember your infinite, eternal nature
Grief may overpower you – but if you are in knowledge and wisdom – you will laugh even when you lose. Become aware of your infinite nature and walk with that knowledge. Realizing the infiniteness of your being will drive you out of misery and keep you centered. Again, meditating helps you tap into this precious knowledge!
- Observe your emotions
Know that you are not your feelings; you are the one experiencing these emotions. When your mind is disturbed, you may forget this and get entangled in these emotions, be it anger or disappointment. However, every emotion creates an analogous sensation in the body, and by observing these sensations, the feelings fade away, and the mind becomes clear. A “Sadhak” is one who strives to rise above these fleeting emotions that are like ripples on an ocean.
- Let go of thoughts and desires
Streams of thoughts are always passing through the mind. You may hold on to these concepts and not let them go like a needle stuck in a groove. Let the thoughts come and go. They are not yours! Sorrow comes when you get stuck to one thought or desire. Know that thoughts are like clouds in the sky, they come and go. Realize their impermanence. Meditation happens when thoughts subside, and the sun shines forth!
- Dealing with worry
If you remain concerned about various nagging problems, there is a secret to reducing your anxieties - form a sentence describing the issue and look at it, word by word. It will bring you to the moment, and the concern disappears.
For example, the concern - “I cannot find my handbag” may go on and on in your mind and bother you exceedingly. So sit with each word of the thought: I… cannot… find… my… hand… bag. Repeat “Handbag, Handbag”-several times. You will see how the worry stops. Or break it further into vowels and consonants. You cannot worry without words.
Look back at the past, and at moments that made you anxious. Recollect those moments.
Will I get the job?
Will I get well?
Will I be humiliated in class for not doing the assignment?
It was a big deal at that time, but now it appears insignificant. Every time you worry, you think, it is fresh and new. Look back at your past and realize that the problems you faced then are now no more. You will find that your immediate worry is also transient. What makes a problem appear permanent is your illusion that you are going to live forever.
- View your life in the context of time and space
Can you perceive your life in relation to the vast cosmos? Billions of years have passed since the first day of creation - what are 50, 60 or 100 years of life, compared to that? When you look at things from this perspective, the smallness of your problems becomes evident. How does a 100 or 200-pound frame compare with something so enormous? When this thought comes to your mind, then all you can do is feel grateful.
- See beyond your physical identity
Be with the awareness that, “I am consciousness; I am the energy inside this body. I am neither the body nor is the body mine. This body has come into existence through my parents, and it will perish one day." Experiencing and becoming aware of this reality brings joy and happiness.
Be aware of the grace, of the love and joy that the divine is pouring on you every minute. Have faith in the divine. This body is a precious gift to you from God. As a seeker, honor this body. Be firm in your commitment to the practice of yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, and chanting – and experience the joy and peace that you are.
- View others as yourself
Some night when you are tucked safely in bed, imagine that there are no people in this world, except you. Others are like shells floating in the ocean of karma, and your past experiences enters those shells and reflects back at you.
Watch a wrestling match on television and visualize both the players as yourself. Feel the consciousness that is acting in one way in this mind and in another way in that mind as one and the same. Realize it is you. You are all those different minds and all the different roles.
A sparrow that looks in the mirror believes that there is another sparrow. It keeps hitting the mirror and stains it with its blood. The sparrow fights with itself and dies. We too are like the sparrows. If we are engaged in a battle, it is with ourselves. If we are angry, it is again with ourselves. Isn't it? It is our own karma. And meditation has the power to burn them all and purify us.
Spiritual practices for the seeker
Your desire for peace has made you restless. You think that by changing people or your situation, life will finally become peaceful. But your search for perfection has created turmoil in you. Wherever you go, you will carry your mind with you. And wherever you go, you will generate and face the same storms. It may appear to be quiet for some time, but it will appear again in a new place. Unless you realize this, nothing will help you in the long run. No other permanent solution is there.
Yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and chanting - all these help purify, energize, and refine your system. They assist in keeping your mind in the present moment. Just like you eat food every day; similarly, include these in your daily routine. Practicing the art of meditation just for a few minutes every day can take you a long way towards the spiritual development that you seek.