Some say life is hard; that it’s a struggle and painful. There are certainly times in life when they are right. We all will experience the loss of someone we love. We will all experience failure. We will all find ourselves struggling from time-to-time to make sense out of the challenges that life brings us.
Personally, I believe our life and our self-reflective consciousness is the most precious gift we will ever be given. Only we humans seem to “struggle” emotionally with life. If life is a struggle, then we are obviously doing something wrong. We are making it more difficult than it needs to be.
If we “are” creating the pain and struggle of life inside our own minds——then it makes sense that if we could learn to change the way we “think”, we could remove much of the pain and struggle we experience in life.
For example, we could stop resisting reality and learn to accept “what is”. We could drop beliefs that, in any way, distort or deny reality—–beliefs that would have us trying to force reality to conform to how we “think” life “should” be——-beliefs that have us living our lives inside an illusion—–beliefs that create a story book, fantasy world that doesn’t exist.
Each of the spiritual practices offered in this article are designed to remove some of the “struggle” from our lives. When we incorporate the wisdom contained in these spiritual practices they will not only begin to change the way we “think”, they will help to ground us in the reality of the real world.
As we are able to bring the awakened consciousness of these spiritual practices into the center of who we “are”, they will begin to bring stability and balance into our lives. They will not only make life more peaceful and meaningful, they will help us create the life we came here to live.
Most importantly, they will help us to achieve the authentic spiritual growth that brings coherence and resonance between our intellect and the deeper wisdom of our heart energy.
Spiritual Practice #1 – Stay Awake To The Reality That Life Is Terminal
From the moment we are born, each of us has a fixed number of breaths that will count down the days and the years of our life. That reality can be painful, but it is also the source of our greatest strength and hope. It is this reality that creates in us a sense of urgency; that encourages us to fully embrace life; that calls us to achieve our full evolutionary potential—–to live the life we were meant to live.
We know that our days are limited. When we have the courage to remain awake and sit with that reality, and not relegate it into the shadows of our unconscious mind like so many of us are encouraged do, it is the knowledge that will enable us to experience gratitude for the time we have——-the knowledge that will make every day, and every breath, important and precious.
When we have the courage to remain awake and fully conscious of each breath we take, life is no longer painful and hard; it becomes the gift of time our soul needs to accomplish what it came here to accomplish. It is our mortality that gives birth to a sense of gratitude for the flash of light——the gift of a self-reflective consciousness. It is this knowledge that our breaths are limited that brings the more important goals and values of our life into our awakened consciousness.
To paraphrase the words of an unknown Italian poet “Our life is like a flash of light, and then it is darkness for eternity. Don’t waste the flash. Embrace it——live it consciously, and spiritually, wide awake.”
Authentic spiritual growth is learning how to stay awake.
There are eight more important and essential spiritual practices that I have found helpful in keeping me spiritually awake on this journey I call my life.
Spiritual Practice #2 – Learn To Give
The law of attraction is a powerful universal force for those who understand it. For many, it means we will attract to ourselves those things we truly want. Unfortunately, that is not how the law of attraction works. We attract into our life, who we “are”, not what we “want”.
If you are a giving person, you will find that the universe gives back to you far more than you could ever give the universe. As someone once said, “I dare you to try to out-give the universe. I guarantee you “that” is a contest you are certain to lose”.
When we learn to be a giving soul; when we learn to embrace life with our heart, not our head, the law of attraction will fill our life with what we “need”—– but not always with what we think we “want”.
Spiritual Practice # 3 – What’s In It For “Them”
What’s in it for them is not just a concept. It is a fundamental reality of our universe. In the words of the well-known life coach Zig Ziggler, “We can have everything we want in life, if we will just help other people get what “they” want. If we want to live a happy and successful life, we have to learn to add value to the lives of others.”
There are no words that better describe or capture the essence of authentic spiritual growth better than this simple concept taught by Zig Ziggler.
Adding value to the lives of others is a powerful spiritual practice that embraces the reality that we are all inter-connected; that success in life is learning to be a team player. Until we add value to the lives of others, we will not achieve the happiness and success that “we” want in life.
Learning to give in practice #2, and what’s in it for “them” in practice #3, are two spiritual practices that can be very helpful, but they will require the courage to become intentionally self-aware of our primitive ego’s tendency to be narcissistic and self-absorbed. Until we do this important shadow work of authentic self-inquiry, happiness and success will continue to be elusive goals in our life.
Spiritual Practice #4 – The Value Of Hard Work
This is a spiritual practice that acknowledges that all actions produce consequences and outcomes. It also reminds us that “inaction” is also an “action” that will produce a consequence or outcome called “status quo” or “no change”. If we want to be happy and successful, we have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and work hard for what we want in life.
I know what many of you will say “Duhhhh! This is “so” obvious, why did you bother including it in this list of essential spiritual practices?”
I agree, it is the most logical and obvious spiritual practice in the list, but I include it because despite the fact that it seems to be “so” obvious, it’s also “the” primary spiritual practice that most of us fail to embrace. It’s “so” obvious, we tend to ignore its wisdom, or acknowledge its power in our lives. We dream about winning the lottery, but too often we don’t bother to go out and actually buy a ticket.
The unwillingness to do the hard work to actually realize our dreams is arguably the primary reason most people are unhappy and unsuccessful in life. We want to be successful, we just don’t want to pay the price of success——-the hard work that it requires.
I included this spiritual practice in the list because without hard work, and a deep commitment to undertake the actions needed to actually achieve success and happiness in life, our longing alone will not turn these goals into reality. Until we do the hard work of actually incorporating them into the center of our lives, none of the spiritual practices in this list will be very helpful.
Next week we will take a look at the last five spiritual practices needed to achieve the authentic spiritual growth so essential for the creation of happiness and success in life.