Spirituality is the most practical thing. Spirituality is a very ambiguous term, it means a lot of different things to different people. Let’s, for the sake of this article, define spirituality as meditation, introspection and gratitude.
Meditation could be dismissed as stagnation or escapism, but many believe true meditation means becoming one with with your spirit, which they’d say is who you really are. It’s not about running away from the outside world, it’s about enhancing your outer experience with a vividness and aliveness from within. From my own experience, there’s a sharpness to life after a good meditation. Like if someone turned down the ambient sound and you were really listening for the first time.
A new study from the University of Derby in the U.K. has suggested that meditating on emptiness, or you could say, reaching thoughtless awareness, might be better than mindfulness. From my own experience, the state of thoughtless awareness is a cure all for problems of the mind. If you’re able to stop thinking, to stop reacting to the outside world and to your own mind, then you can enter at any moment a place within yourself that is peaceful, content and even joyful. This state can be elusive, but there’s a technique called Sahaja Yoga that can help even first time practitioners or children achieve this beautiful inner silence. You can find out more at: www.freemeditation.com or Free Meditation TV on YouTube.
Introspection is a completely logical practice as well. We are with ourselves our whole lives, we might as well know ourselves as best we can. This is a living relationship; the better you know your needs and desires, thoughts and issues, the better you can love yourself by catering to your personal needs. One thing I’ve noticed from introspecting on my reactions, as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, recommends, is that I have attachments and conditionings about what I find normal, which I might benefit from challenging.
David Goggins, author, ex-navy seal, and man of incredible discipline, talks about looking in the accountability mirror.
“Whatever you are, you must look in that mirror and be brutally honest with yourself and call yourself out for what you are and what you’re not… and put sticky notes up there about what needs to be changed,” Goggins said.
Over time, we can use self reflection for personal growth or so many other things.
Finally, gratitude. Perception influences life so much. By shifting our focus we alter our reality. Heartfelt gratitude is one key to filling our lives with more joyful moments. Studies have shown that the effects of a gratitude practice spread not just to psychological health (things life self-esteem, empathy, mental fortitude) but also to physical aspects (increased likelihood to workout, better sleep patterns) and even increase the likelihood of expanding our friend group (through practices like saying thank you, sending thank you notes, etc).
I find that just counting my blessings, or shifting my attention to what good fortune I have, even in small, small things, really makes me more peaceful and satisfied. And when I feel more complete in myself, I’m better able to give love to my friends, family, and passerbys.
The beautiful thing about these practices is that they can be scaled to any schedule! Benefits of spirituality can manifest incrementally with just a moment or two of practice. So ask yourself this week: What am I doing about my spirituality?