Spiritual practices are not about religion; they are about awakening our consciousness, intentional growth self-awareness, and achieving an enlightened and authentic spiritual growth.
Regardless of what you might have been taught in religious education classes, authentic spiritual growth is not about theology or religious beliefs. It is not about being holy. It is not about asking God for gifts and miracles through prayer. The only way to achieve authentic spiritual growth is through growth in self-awareness; the courage to see and then accept who you really are, not who you would like to be, or who you think God would like you to be.
The rapidly growing community of those who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious are discovering that they can live an authentic spiritual life outside of modern religion. But it does require the discipline to embrace spiritual practices in your day to day life that leads to deeper self-awareness.
An effective spiritual practice offers a person a tangible way to begin evolving their consciousness and moving into higher states of self-awareness.
The goal of an authentic spiritual practice is always an intentional increase in self-knowledge and a conscious intention to offer a more unconditional compassion and loving-kindness to those around us.
Here are two spiritual practices that can lead you toward a more enlightened spirituality.
Spiritual Practice #1 – Growth in Self-Awareness
Learn to pay attention whenever you experience yourself having an automatic, knee-jerk emotional reaction to another person or situation. Instead of reacting to the feelings that arise, learn to simply sit with them.
Stay conscious of the fact that feelings come and go and negative feelings are created by a judgmental belief or thought we hold in our mind.
Remind yourself that just because you “have” a negative feeling it doesn’t mean that a) the feeling is true or accurate, or b) you have to “act” on the feeling.
Each time you do this practice, you will give your observing ego consciousness the gift of a clear look at your inner-child’s unconscious primitive ego. Over time, the knee-jerk reactions of your primitive ego will no longer make sense to you and your relationships with others will become healthier. You will begin to see the judgmental beliefs that create the negative energy that you are sending into the world.
Spiritual Practice #2 – Taming Your Primitive Ego
The ability to offer a more unconditional compassion to others means we have to let go of our primitive ego’s narcissistic need to be right; the dualistic beliefs and certainties our primitive ego uses to judge others.
The spiritual practice needed to accomplish this growth is called “letting the other person be right”.
When we develop the ability to intentionally let the other person be right we are consciously taming the primitive ego psyche of our inner-child. This simple spiritual practice allows us to begin seeing the world as-it-is without allowing our primitive ego to judge it or change it.
The power of this spiritual practice comes from the fact that we are beginning to intentionally tame our primitive ego. We are putting the needs of others ahead of our own. In this case, we are intentionally allowing their primitive ego to be right.
This spiritual practice allows us to get in touch with three simple insights that will take you a long way down the path toward true compassion and enlightenment.
Insight #1) When we learn to let the other person be right there is no conflict or argument.
Insight #2) When we accept others without judgment, there is no need to criticize, label, or change them.
Insight #3) When we learn to put the needs of others ahead of our own, there is no need for impatience, resentment, control, selfishness, or greed.
Don’t worry if these skills take time to master. Practice and repetition are the goal. Every time your primitive ego takes over your consciousness and needs to be right, simply use the unconscious knee-jerk reaction as another opportunity for your observing ego consciousness to pay attention to the reactivity of your primitive ego.
Over time, these skills will become a habit; an authentic reflection of who you are becoming inside; your adult observing ego will grow in strength and wisdom, and your relationship with the world will grow in compassion.
Summary – Both Spiritual Practices Are Necessary To Grow in Self-Awareness and Achieve Authentic Spiritual Growth
Authentic change takes time and practice. These two spiritual practices are positive steps toward intentional self-awareness and authentic spiritual growth. They are both necessary to achieve the true compassion of an enlightened consciousness.
The divine evolutionary impulse; the spirit of the Initiating Consciousness immanent in all of creation is embedded in the soul of our DNA. As we tame and quiet the emotional noise of our reactive primitive ego, we will begin to hear the still small voice of our soul; the essential self that reflects the spiritual reality of who we really are, calling us toward a more enlightened and unconditional compassion.
For interesting reading on the history of spirituality and religion in America, check out this book by Robert Fuller. Spiritual, but not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America