Spiritual Journey -Spiritual Awakening & Meditation
First, we all grow physically and then mentally with varying degrees of pace and overlapping. Some of us grow faster than expected. Then comes our spiritual development. At what stage, we undertake a spiritual journey it’s highly subjective and unique for each one of us. We have seen people stagnating at the lowermost ladder of our development. The literary don’t grow spiritually at all. They never try to come out from their highly repetitive, habitual, and conditioned life. They often act and behave mindlessly and impulsively. They may easily get broken under the pressure of any adversity they come across in their lives. Unless we are mentally tough and resilient, we can’t overcome tough times as we have seen during pandemic times. On such occasions, it’s our spiritual development that really helps us.
There are many attributes that are associated with a spiritually developed or grown person. The main qualities, which spiritually developed people may possess are having a high level of self-awareness, absence of negative emotions, detachment from people and other material goods, remaining calm and unperturbed during adversities, having an ability to be present (mindfulness), stay happy and satisfied with the prevailing circumstances, to exercise love, compassion, and empathy for others and nurture affectionate and true relationships.
It’s rare to find all these qualities in one person. Most of us live in various intermittent stages of spiritual development. Some of the qualities take a complete lifetime to learn and inculcate in life. Therefore, ‘spiritual development’ can be defined and explained in many different ways. Numerous thinkers and spiritual teachers have defined this process in their own ways. There is, however, a broad agreement on certain personality traits and attributes that we can observe as “signs of spiritual development” during our life’s journey. Ten prominent signs of spiritual development are as follows:
10 Signs of the Spiritual Journey
- Start learning about the spiritual aspect of our life: ‘Who am I’ should be the question that should arise during the course of our lifetime. With this there is another associated question is ‘what is the purpose and meaning of life. Once we start deliberating on these questions, many related issues will arise. That’s how we start learning and exploring the spiritual aspect of our life.
- To undertake Self-inquiry: According to Ramana Maharishi (879-1950), an Indian Sage and a proponent of Advaita Vedanta advocated self-inquiry as a path to self-realization. As we know most of the time, our thoughts revolve around ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘my’. For him, self-inquiry is the constant attention to the inner awareness of ‘I’ or ‘I am. This is the most efficient and direct way of discovering the unreality of the “I”-thought.
- Become more and more self-aware: self-awareness is the key to know ourselves deeply: Self-awareness is the ability to focus on ourselves and how our actions, thoughts, or emotions affect ourselves and others around us. Not only we should thoroughly know about ourselves but also know, how others perceive us. It’s about knowing how we behave under different circumstances. How we think, act and react in various situations of life? If we are self-aware, then we know all these things about ourselves.
- To be aware of our inflated ego and then start deflating it: Through our ego, we perceive our sense of identity like’ Who Am I’, why I am better than others? As long as the ego is healthy, I mean balanced and realistic, it’s good for us. However, the problem begins when it’s is distorted and inflated. With an inflated ego, we never feel the need for any spiritual development. To dissolve an inflated ego, it’s a time-consuming and difficult job. The main resistance of “to kill one’s inflated ego’ is from the ego itself. So, a very difficult task indeed but we may find people overcoming their highly inflated ego slowly and consistently.
- To practice self-love: How can we love others if we don’t love ourselves? It’s a straight and simple logic. The spiritual journey begins with oneself. It’s an important part of self-awareness. There is a nice quote of Sri Ravi Shanker, “Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.” Before undertaking a journey for enlightenment, start with this step.
- To be mindful and practice mindfulness: We experience the highest state of awareness when we focus on the moments at hand. This state is known as mindfulness. In reality, we keep on missing the present moments during the day. This has a cost. We often become mindless, impulsive, and reactive, when we are not mindful. We become prone to miss valuable experiences because we are, in a sense, not awake during those times. As a result, we are not able to exercise complete control over our minds.
- To learn and practice mental exercise like meditation: In our contemporary world, a huge emphasis is given to our physique, beauty, and looks. Therefore, people would love to spend money, energy, and time to improve their looks. No doubt, physical health, and our outer looks are very important but while pursuing this goal, most of us neglect the other far more crucial aspect of our health and wellbeing is our mind, the mental health.
- Start praying in any form: Prayer is another very powerful tool of spiritual practice. In almost all religious traditions as well as in non-theistic religions like Buddhism, people visit their religious places and monasteries and offer prayers before God or their Supreme Being. Generally, people pray to God and plead for something including peace and prosperity. In a way, it’s asking God for something with intense yearning. This is another important way to undertake a spiritual journey.
- To begin to appreciate other’s belief system– We all have a whole system of beliefs that usually continues to grow and petrify along our life’s journey. We keep on accumulating beliefs as we age, thinking and acting on the basis of those beliefs. Our beliefs are the foundation of our identity; the “I” powerfully influencing our personality, physical health, and overall quality of life. In a way, they act either as catalysts or inhibitors, depending on the belief system. For spiritual development, a robust belief system is a prerequisite.
- Must respond to life’s situations by avoiding a habitual and conditioned behaviour: All of us each day during waking hours perform repetitive tasks. Dozens of times a day, we engage in behaviour that requires little or no focused concentration. We are not required to think about them. Similarly, our responses to various situations become automatic with time. We generally react in the manner in which we have been earlier doing it. In a way, our habitual and highly conditioned behaviour becomes a major impediment to our spiritual growth. To grow spiritually, we need to be receptive and respond to life’s conditions as per the requirement.
Take away: Spiritual development is a slow and steady process but at the same time, difficult to undertake the journey. The reason is simple, we all tend to live in our own comfort area. To come out from it, requires will time, energy, and strong willpower. On the other hand, we want to conserve our mental energy. That why we tend to live comfortably in our own self-made ‘prison’. But many of us, do try to come out from that ‘prison’ and undertake a spiritual journey by exhibiting different signs, as detailed in the article. However, one thing is certain and that’s we invariably experience faster spiritual development during the last phase of our life.
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