Those things we always wish we have time for, those memories and past experiences we want to work through, the things we know are important, yet find difficult to implement, they are all completely within our reach.
The power of the intellect and what it can accomplish will leave you astonished. We don’t use even half the capacity of our minds. Every single one of us has the ability to be happy and truly at peace.
Yet, this state of mind seems elusive and unattainable because we do not devote the time each day for reflection, silence, and solitude. Without creating this space every day, we cannot know ourselves- our habits, challenges, patterns, and begin to slowly work towards making positive changes.
Why is having a meditation practice important?
1. Takes us inward.
When we are able to separate ourselves from outside stimulation, we finally begin to realize our innermost thoughts. No longer distracted and influenced by what is happening around us, we can know exactly how we feel about a certain situation, get to the root of our challenges, and realize our blockages to self-improvement and progress.
2. Goes beyond anything external we do for ourselves.
A meditation practice helps us to go deeper than any temporary way of soothing our minds can, such as getting massages or taking a vacation.
It also helps us to go beyond self-care practices, which are vital to our well-being and should not be forgone, but are limited in their ability to create sustained peace of mind.
Anything we do outside of ourselves helps us only so far as to cultivate the proper environment to prepare us to do the inner work. In order to create true happiness, we need to find better ways to cope with our everyday lives, so that when difficult circumstances inevitably arise we can handle them in a nurturing way.
3. Elevates our minds.
Having a meditation practice enables us to see ourselves outside of the everyday labels and boxes we judge our progress by, the majority of time determined by others.
We are able to view the bigger picture, which then provides clarity, motivates us to set higher goals, and leads to positive change. It takes us to a different level of consciousness. We may not be familiar with or even realize it exists. Yet, once we discover this part of ourselves, one that has always existed, we want to delve further into discovering and knowing it.
We all have access to creating happier and healthier lives! Our hearts long for something different and more permanent, but maybe we don’t know just how to get started- that what this post is all about!
Are there any signs I need a meditation practice?
In working individually with clients to help them find a meditation practice, I begin by exploring the deeper reasons for wanting to create a practice in the first place.
Often times, people are already incorporating self-care rituals and personal time into their lives without realizing it. Having a greater understanding of what is leading us down this path can not only help further guide us, but also assist in creating a practice that fits our needs and circumstances.
Below are some signs that you too could benefit from a meditation practice of your own.
1. You sway from one emotion to the next.
2. You easily feel personally attacked and/or you get defensive quickly.
3. Your happiness depends on the approval of others.
4. You feel perpetually lost and unbalanced, something isn’t quite right.
5.Your stress-coping strategies are focused on external gratification.
6. Resentment, guilt, and regret are common themes in your life.
7. When something doesn’t go your way you see it as a failure, instead of a lesson.
8. You regularly let others’ energies affect you.
9. You easily get anxious.
10. You feel the need to compete with others instead of finding ways to uplift one another.
11. Any situation is a cause for regression and slipping back into old patterns.
12. Your feelings are often out of control.
13. Judgment and gossip help you feel better about yourself.
14. Self-interest is the principle factor in making decisions.
15. You often wait for ‘things to get better.’
After reading this list you may be thinking, who doesn’t experience at least some of these emotions and challenges? THAT’s the point! We can all use meditation in our lives.
Okay, it looks like I could benefit from a meditation practice. Where do I start?
To see real changes from our meditation practice and continue progressing, we have to find ways of infusing meditative activities into our lives.
When we can build meditation into our current schedules and routines, it becomes easier to maintain. There are many things we can do for ourselves each day to keep our spirits lifted and our consciousness elevated. These intentional practices start to become second nature once we incorporate them into our daily lives.
»Create sacred space at home.
While growing up, my family always made sure that each time we moved into a new home, we kept a space aside for an altar. Sometimes this was an entire room, part of a room, or even just a countertop. I didn’t come to appreciate the significance of having a dedicated place in the home for daily meditation, rituals, and celebration of festivals, until I became a homeowner myself. In creating my own sacred space, I thought of what was most meaningful to me and what helps me to stay centered.
A sacred space serves as a daily reminder to work towards becoming a better person and encourages continual engagement in self-growth. Each time you walk by your space, it should uplift you, help you feel calmer, and motivate you to sit in self-reflection. In this way, re-connecting with our spirit becomes a part of our daily lives, not only something we do once a week/month/year. [Related: Creating Sacred Space In Your Home]
Books have the potential to change lives. Whether it’s religious scriptures, a self-help book, or a set of poems, these books should motivate you to think higher, help you to find deeper meaning, and guide you in gradually becoming the best version of yourself. Choose a chapter, paragraph, or a few lines to read every day. Then, give yourself time to think about what you just read and see if and/or how it applies to you. Slowly work on integrating these nuggets of wisdom into your life.
We live in a society that assumes if you are alone, then you are lonely. Here, solitude does not mean loneliness. In fact, a marker of spiritual progress is the ability to remain happy and peaceful while being with oneself. This is a sign that your happiness does not come from any person, circumstance, or event, rather it comes from deep inside of your own being. If you can find inner peace and cultivate happiness from within, then you are not dependent on outside elements to fulfill you. How liberating is that?!!
I have come to find that my most blissful times are when I am by myself. Create a few minutes each day to be alone. This includes unplugging from electronics that will distract your attention (read: phone, television, computer, etc.). Give yourself time to think by doing nothing, writing in a journal, pursuing a creative hobby, taking a walk, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, or reading (see above). Engage in a solo activity that helps you re-connect with yourself.
»Surround yourself with inspiration.
Make the spaces you occupy on a daily basis inspirational. Inner tranquility begins with our surroundings. Turn your home, car, and workplace, into calming mini-retreats. Tape quotes to your bathroom mirror, listen to soothing music in the car, place a fresh bouquet of flowers on your desk at work every week, or light a candle after you come home from a long day.
Reflect on what aspects of your day you have influence over and work towards managing them with care and sensitivity. This also means eliminating external stimuli that causes anxiety, anger, or stress. Does a particular friend’s social media posts always put you in a bad mood? Does a weekly television show you watch incite fear? The local news can do that to you! Start recognizing these triggers and how they make you feel. Keep a list or make mental notes, then modify your actions accordingly.
If you practice yoga or are curious about Yogic philosophy, one of the primary tenets says that in life we should work towards understanding and eliminating that which does not help us progress, and replace it with ways of realizing higher truths and consciousness.
»Set intentions to develop your personal growth and reach your highest divine potential.
Be introspective when creating goals. For example, setting the intentions to be wealthy and famous will always cause your happiness to depend on whether or not you achieve these objectives. However, if you instead aim to be happy with whatever success comes your way, you have set a motivating intention that helps you to continue striving for more, but your joy no longer depends on realizing a certain outcome. [Related: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Meditators] Think about whether what you are asking of yourself will lead you down a path of greater awareness, help you become a better person, and most of all, allow you to keep an even-mindedness at all times.
»Practice measured breathing.
Take a moment to tap into your breath by practicing this simple breathing technique a few times: breathing in for 4 counts, breathing out for 4 counts. You can adjust the ratio, as you feel comfortable. Measured breathing helps us to breathe deeper, something we don’t do as much as we should on a daily basis. Also, notice how your mind becomes focused on the counting and not on the eleven things you have to do today or the conversation that went awry with your partner last night. When we can concentrate on one thing, we are taking the first critical step to meditation.
Try keeping a daily flexible and open schedule. If you cannot avoid or postpone certain commitments, then do each action slower, literally. Walk slower, eat slower, and read slower. Do not rush through your activities. It helps to completely bring your focus to your present actions and do one thing at a time.
»Bring awareness to what you are doing in the moment.
Ask yourself a few times throughout the day- What am I doing right now? This simple question stops us from wasting time, prevents us from saying things we don’t mean, and can motivate us to take action. When we stop going through life on autopilot, we better understand how our daily habits, thoughts, and patterns that prevent us from excelling.
»Elevate your mood with calming scents.
My daily meditation practice includes burning a stick of incense. The reasons we light incense are because it purifies the air and elevates our mood, which in turn calms the mind. This same feeling can be achieved with essential oils and scented candles.
»Carry spiritual items with you.
Whether you are carry an inspirational message in your wallet, hang a set of mala (necklace) beads on the rear view mirror of your car, or keep earbuds with you to listen to soothing music on your phone, find ways to take spirituality with you wherever you go. I’ve tried to create the habit of always keeping some calming and uplifting reading material in my purse. If I find myself ever having to wait somewhere, instead of pulling out my phone, I pull out my book.
»Do something for someone else knowing you won’t receive credit for it.
One of the ways we can go beyond thinking purely about ourselves is by not only doing a selfless act, but doing it knowing that you will not receive any credit for it, only that you made someone else a little happier.
»Talk less, observe your thoughts more.
Talking takes up a lot of our energy that could be used towards more useful pursuits. Most of our conversations are idle talk. This is why yogic philosophy focuses on preserving energy, so that it can be used towards meditation, concentration, and building self-awareness. The Vipassana, 10-day silent retreats, incorporate this same philosophy, as well as other retreats that observe silence. When we don’t speak we are better able to observe our thoughts and our reactions to whatever is happening in the moment. Bring your attention to what you are thinking and why. Get to the root of your problems and frustrations, so that you can find healthier solutions.
»Speak only kind words.
When you do talk, be mindful of the language you use. Consider only speaking words that contain positivity and add something to a conversation. If you feel the urge to speak ill of someone, stop and imagine someone else saying the same thing about you that you are about to say about this person.
»Use quotes, affirmations, or excerpts from spiritual/religious texts as daily inspiration.
Hand-write a couple of your favorite quotes or excerpts from spiritual/religious books, and post them in your everyday visual line of sight. Some ideas of where you can have them displayed are the bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, kitchen counter, or bedroom nightstand. You can also create your own affirmations. An example would be, ‘ Today, I will remain calm, mindful, and understanding no matter what comes my way.’ Typically, with affirmations, they should be positive, in the present tense, and you should work with one for a while before moving on to a new one.
We often underestimate our need to think and reflect on our inner sense of being. If you can be alone with your thoughts, then you are one step closer to finding more peace of mind. Give yourself one hour each day where you are not engaged with any electronics (laptops, phone, iPads, television, etc.) If this sounds like a lot right now, start small and gradually work your way up.
»Engage in self-study.
Be genuinely curious about your spiritual progress. Without judgment or preconceived ideas, sit and reflect every few weeks or months on how you have changed since you started your practice. If you are just beginning, set one intention and work on that for some time. If you have stayed committed to your practice, you will realize how far you have come since you began. Do not discount anything, even if it seems small and insignificant. This can also be a good opportunity to see what changes you need to create in your life so that it will be easier to make a greater commitment.
In the eight stages of yoga, self-study is one of the main sub-principles on the yogic path. Patanjali, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, uses the word Swadhyaya (or Svadhyaya) in two different ways. First, it means the study of scriptures, and secondly, it means to be constantly engaged in the study of ourselves, particularly to understand the different aspects of our personality including the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. Self-study helps to develop the practice of looking at our own consciousness.
»Value your time.
Think about the most important aspects in your life and then make time for only those things. This is what it means to let go of those things that no longer serve you. There was a time when I was spending a lot of energy answering emails and taking phone calls that didn’t help me to reach my personal goals. At the end of the day, I would think about what I accomplished and it wasn’t nearly as much as I had set out to do. In an effort to remain kind to others, I realized I wasn’t respecting my own time. We each have control over how we use our time, value it and use it wisely.
»End your day or begin your day 1 hour earlier.
Utilize this time to re-connect with yourself. You can combine this with another suggestion on the list, such as unplugging, self-study and/or affirmations. In creating more time for ourselves, we build a space in our day dedicated to our self-development.
»Take a couple of slow, long, deep breaths in and out throughout the day.
This is guaranteed to make you feel immediately better. If at any time during the day you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or angry, take a moment to take a couple of intentional slow, long, deep breaths in and out. Notice your chest rising and your belly expanding. It’s remarkable how this simple act can help us think clearer and make us feel calmer.
»Do something spiritual every morning.
Start each day with a relaxed feeling and calm thoughts. Engage in something to remind yourself of your higher purpose. It doesn’t have to take much time. Once you start doing it everyday, it will naturally become part of your routine. In fact, things will feel off-balance when you don’t do it. Ever since I was a kid, as soon as I awake and before I get out of bed, I pray and thank God for another day. Your morning ritual doesn’t have to be religious. A couple of ideas include subscribing to an email list that sends out daily inspiration, DailyOM & DailyGood are two options, or looking out the window to observe nature or the cityscape for a few minutes before beginning your day. You can write out any thoughts that come to mind as soon as you wake up, while they are still fresh and untainted by the wear of the day. You can even have a mini-celebration for the opportunity of a brand new day and a chance for self-improvement by doing something in the morning that you enjoy. For me, that’s a healthy breakfast! [Related: How To Create A Morning Meditation Routine]
»Control your mental input.
This has become increasingly difficult in our world. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, the opinions of our friends, and media stimulation. We may turn on the television or log into our social media accounts and be unexpectedly met with cursing, lewd comments, vulgar photos, and demeaning language. All of those subtly influence our thoughts and feelings. Determine what you have control over. Work towards eliminating the negative. Replace it with calming, uplifting, and positive words and images.
When we are able to keep our bodies healthy, we have energy to devote to our minds. Think about how difficult it would be to focus on spiritual pursuits if you were malnourished, weak, or sick. All of your attention would be on you physical well-being. Stay strong, so you can bring more of yourself to your spirituality.
I’ve started a meditation practice before, but wasn’t able to keep up with it. Any tips or suggestions on how to maintain a meditation practice?
Many people very enthusiastically begin a meditation practice with the hopes of achieving some sort of outcome. Some common goals include, wanting to sleep better, feel calmer, and lower anxiety. These are very much within reach. In fact, the results of a steady meditation practice will eventually lead one to experience these benefits, the key word being steady.
Most people, however, fail to realize the maximum benefits of meditation, which can include life-transforming changes, because meditation never becomes a part of their daily routine.
Trying meditation for a few weeks and then letting the practice go or sitting irregularly, will not bring about the same kind of positive changes in mindset, attitude, and thinking, as if you sat everyday. Yet, you may claim to be too busy for meditation. Why is this so?
You haven’t structured the rest of your life to support a regular meditation practice.
We know in theory that if we really want to do something, we make the time for it. We want to move from recognizing this on an intellectual level to living it in our everyday lives.
If you are serious about making meditation a daily habit, then you first have to understand how you are spending your existing time. In order to gain an honest and realistic view of your schedule, one idea is to keep a daily log for a week tracking every little thing from waking up, to eating meals, and everything in between. What are you prioritizing? Who are you giving your time and energy to in the day? Are you including your self-care as a non-negotiable in your daily life?
Late nights, watching endless hours of television, working long hours, feeling obligated to spend time with certain people, using unhealthy coping methods to deal with anxiety, all affect our everyday lives. Slowly, our days turn into the way we live our entire lives.
When we begin making small changes in our day and start shifting our priorities to include our health and well-being, we slowly transform how we live our lives.
Once we start meditating and realizing the benefits for ourselves, we want to sit longer and more often. Meditation naturally becomes a part of our everyday nourishment.
Below are a few tips on ways to help you work towards incorporating meditation into your daily life.
Start with a 1-minute practice. Eventually, you will become comfortable with it, and then move on to 2-minutes, then 3, and so on. There is no timeline, no rush, no competition. Build your concentration steadily, not forcing yourself to sit longer to meet some meditation standard. Yes, 15-30 minutes of meditation a day would be ideal, but work on developing your focus and you will eventually get there. [Related: The Most Important Part Of Meditation No One Talks About]
Side note: The only person you are trying to be better than is the person you were yesterday. If anything, you will see the benefits as you go along. So the idiom, ‘The journey is the reward’ (Chinese proverb), rings true here. Some people become focused on quickly realizing their highest-selves, that at the slightest notice of the benefits of meditation, they stop their daily practice confusing it for enlightenment or Samadhi. You will know when meditation is working for you because more and more you will let go of ego, you won’t be as drawn to materialism, you will feel balance of mind, and you won’t feel the need to tell everyone how far you’ve come on your spiritual path. Don’t be in a rush to get there, enjoy the process and the changes it’s creating. Be happy with where you are at in this moment.
2. Once you find something that works, stick with it.
This means finding a meditation technique that feels comfortable and relatively easy to practice. [Related: How To Choose The Perfect Object To Focus On During Meditation] In the beginning, it will be a struggle to withdraw the mind from outside stimulation and sit still with the breath. This is natural. However, after experimenting with different types of meditation and finding something that resonates with you, stick with it. Do not change meditation techniques every couple of weeks or once a month. Do it for as long as you can. The purpose of meditation is to increase our concentration and go deeper. We cannot do that if we are changing meditation tools often. If you begin to feel as though the particular meditation method you have chosen no longer works for you, then of course find one that does, but once you have, keep with it. There are known to be 112 meditation techniques, so there is something for everyone!
3. Boldly create changes.
Do not be afraid to make the changes you need to in your life. The majority of people are too afraid to do anything about what their gut instinct and heart are signaling to them because they allow others to influence their behaviors. Work on letting go of other peoples’ ideas about you. You know all those things you would do if you had time for them? Well, you do have time and you can do them all, you just have to realize the changes you need to make in order to realize them, and slowly work towards manifesting them into reality. Begin with the small things, those will make the biggest difference in the long run.
4. Do less.
Our natural tendency in this day and age seems to be packing in as much as we can into our daily schedules. Sometimes our obligations are unavoidable. However, what we choose to give our energy to throughout the day is a result of what we think is important. Take an honest look at your weekly/daily schedules. What items are you deciding to focus on? Why are you giving them importance? Who are you investing your time into? Try to get to the root of your actions.
Next, look at your schedule and reflect on what is helping you grow and become a better person. Are you engaging in things that will help you progress? Then, choose 3 major action items to be completed in your day. Yes, only 3! Leave only the bare essentials and give your complete focus to those things. The less we have to do in the day, the more concentration and attention we can give to those things that fulfill us.
Time goes by and all of a sudden we have all this stuff. Where did it come from? Make some to consciously examine the objects in your home. Do I really use it or not? Is this adding to my efficiency and overall happiness? This will take time, so no rush, as long as you begin the process. The state of our environments affects the state of our minds. When we are no longer being held back by the mess in our spaces, we make room for peace and serenity in our lives. Keeping the areas we occupy on a daily basis minimal and tidy allows us to spend more time on our personal well-being and spiritual growth.
6. Have a routine schedule.
Your meditation practice should be done as often as you brush your teeth and shower. In other words, every day. The best way to begin a habit is by setting aside a few minutes each day to engage in it. The most ideal way to continue a habit is to have a regimented schedule that varies very little from day to day. If this sounds overwhelming, just begin with a regular morning routine. Think about what your ideal daily schedule would like, then work backwards to realize it. Reflect on what you need to alter in your life to make this schedule a reality. This will not happen in a short amount of time. You may have to experiment to see what really works, talk to family about your needs, or slightly change your work schedule. Enjoy the process! Be enthusiastic about creating something for yourself.
Just as you would schedule anything else, put your meditation practice in your planner, on your calendar, and set it as reminder on your phone. Do not sacrifice it. Treat it as the food you eat daily and the sleep you take nightly. Strive to make it a part of your routine. Meditation is part of our mental health. It has the potential to prevent diseases, depression, and stress.
That sounds amazing! If there was one thing I need to keep a meditation practice going, what would you say that is?
There are many people out there in the wellness, yoga, and health fields that will have you believing that you need the latest apps, exotic destination, and equipment (yoga shoes anyone?) to start a spiritual practice. Yes, these can help you begin and motivate you on your journey. However, sustaining any practice comes from within. What keeps one person persevering and slowly progressing, while another gets bored and gives up?
Most of the time faith is unscientific, immeasurable, and experiential. If I tell you that my daily meditation practice has changed me in numerous ways and as a result I am a different person than I was one year ago, where is the proof? I cannot give you data, statistics, calculations, or hard numbers. You only have my story, my testimony, my observations to go on. Is that enough to help you get started on creating your own practice, to keep you moving forward?
In fact, all of what we know today about yoga was realized in deep meditation by yogis thousands of years ago. This knowledge itself was revealed from the spiritual practice of others.
It is not easy to have complete confidence in something. Unfortunately, we are raised to doubt, question, and be skeptical of spirituality and religion. This is why you must try it for yourself and see. It is something that has to be experienced.
Once you start seeing for yourself how your attitude and behavior change, your faith also grows. Naturally, we begin making more time for it in our day. We want to learn more and find ways to incorporate it outside of the time we set have aside. We allow our practice to help us let go of anger, resentment, and worry. We become more confident, kind, and balanced.
Having a spiritual practice requires faith, in yourself, in the process, in the benefits.
Faith helps us resolve all of the excuses we tell ourselves as to why we cannot maintain a spiritual practice, for instance, time, money, other people.
How to develop faith?
»Experiment and see what works for you! Find something that resonates, helps you feel calmer, and gets you in touch with your highest-self. [Related: How To Choose The Perfect Object To Focus On During Meditation]
»Once you find it, stick with it.
»Practice it daily.
We are all divine beings with potential to realize kindness and compassion within ourselves. Have faith that your spiritual practice will slowly lead you to expanded awareness and healthier ways of living.
How do I know my meditation practice is working? Are there any signs I am progressing?
Whether we call it a spiritual awakening, realizing the truth, or living in a higher consciousness, the manifestations of our inner work come to one recognition- our lives hold a deeper meaning and purpose beyond our average comprehension.
When I began meditating on a daily basis and prioritizing my spiritual practice, I automatically started living differently. I was no longer interested in the same things as before I ventured on this path. I started looking at my friendships with more awareness. Moments of silence and solitude began taking precedence in my day. I wasn’t sad or depressed. For the first time, happiness was coming from inside of me, not dependent on any outside circumstances. I was living more intentionally, being more creative, and making time for what really mattered to me.
Below are some changes you may experience. If you also feel these transformations taking place within you, know you are not alone. This is part of the process of discovering our inner light and universal truth.
»You honor your spiritual growth.
You may find yourself enjoying solitary activities more than socializing with others. Staying at home more than going out, reading, writing, and walking in nature, all hold more appeal. Spiritual and self-improvement books move to the top of the list over fiction. These are just some of the things that could start happening. Although everyone’s paths vary, it isn’t unusual to develop more introspective and reflective interests. This comes out of a conscious choice we make, rather than a temporary state of feeling alone or unhappy. We are laying the foundation for living the rest of our lives with more awareness.
»You remove distractions.
When we start spiritually awakening, we realize that our time in these bodies and on this earth is limited. You want to make the best use of this gift you have been given. You naturally begin doing the inner work to let go of resentments and anger. You lessen or eliminate your time watching television and listening to music that leaves violent and negative impressions in the mind. You realize the ways you are wasting time because they are not adding to your inner growth and personal development. Instead, you replace them with actions that will culminate in lasting peace. You begin your journey towards engaging in purposeful work.
»You minimize/eliminate material desires.
You realize true happiness doesn’t come from what you own, but who you are as a person. As cliché as this sounds, it’s a realization you come to on your own, not because you heard it, read it, or saw several memes on the topic. You naturally feel more selfless and detached from the material world. The appeal of the latest fads and newest gadgets lose importance. You understand that not everyone has yet come to share in your newfound insight, so you continue practicing non-judgment and understanding.
»You start treating everyone equally.
You grow sensitive to others’ energies around you, but are constantly working towards not being impacted by them. You understand that we are all here to work through our own life lessons (karma). Although you may choose to let go of certain relationships, you don’t harbor ill feelings towards anyone. Instead, you think about the greater good and how you can be of service to all of humanity. You acknowledge that in this life we all experience the same set of feelings and desires for ourselves, although we all handle what we are given differently. What you know in theory, you try very hard to practice in your thoughts and actions.
»You have more evenness of mind.
You find yourself having less and less mood swings and drastic changes in feelings. You have the ability to maintain an even temperament whether you are faced with positivity or negativity. I remember when I started noticing this within myself. I was around a couple of friends, who on two different occasions were very boisterous and excited. I felt overwhelmed by their energies. This was a very new and surprising reaction that I had never had before. When you find yourself being able to stay calm in situations that would have previously had you feeling anxious or impatient, then that’s an indication that your spiritual practice(s) are working.
»You speak intentionally.
Instead of saying something out of spite, you take a moment to reflect and realize your hurt has taken over your words. You don’t purposely go out of your way to say something solely to make someone feel bad. You also realize when you are saying something out of ego, as a way to impress or prove your self-worth. You try to speak the truth in every moment, while remaining compassionate and kind.
»You do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.
Whether you believe you will receive credit or anyone will notice is irrelevant to you. If you receive more change back or notice someone has dropped money, you return it because it’s the right thing to do. You begin living with more integrity and honesty as a natural progression of the inner work you are doing.
»You start thinking from a higher consciousness.
The path to spiritual progress brings a shift from living in the subconscious mind to living in the superconscious mind. In other words, you notice yourself going from an automatic existence to an intentional & authentic life. Instead, of using mental energy to find more instant gratification, you may begin spending more time thinking about how you can do seva (service) in this world. Your personal ambitions may have shifted from gaining material wealth to expanding your spiritual understanding. You may no longer entertain negative thoughts about others, but instead hope they find the lessons they need to in this life. Since, all of our actions stem from our thoughts, when we move into a higher realm of thinking, we begin living a more expansive life.
»Your actions & words are not motivated by ego.
You no longer feel pressured to prove your self-worth. You do not allow yourself to succumb to the competitive game of showing how well liked, intelligent, successful, wealthy, etc. you are, compared to others. Instead, the way you live your life serves as a testament to the values, habits, & priorities you keep. You also realize that differences of opinion and opposing viewpoints are not personal attacks. Having done the inner work, you understand that degrading others, calling them names, and violent speech are all forms of defense against the ego. Instead, you recognize that we are all products of our life experiences and any strong beliefs we hold are a result of everything we have undergone. [Related: The Meditation Manifesto: 108 Truths About Your Meditation Practice]
»You know what is good for you and you actually do it.
All of us know the difference between good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, positive and negative. We know we shouldn’t be spending copious amounts of time on the Internet, checking email and social media, but we still do it. We know we shouldn’t be leading sedentary lifestyles, but many of us still don’t include exercise in our daily regimen. When we know things are harmful to us, why do we still do them? When you are spiritually progressing, you don’t allow past behavior, unhealthy habits, or laziness get in the way of any changes you would like to make. You take ownership over any negative choices you may have made in the past and work towards improving your situation. You find ways to replace old, harmful patterns by slowly developing new, healthy habits.
»You have gained insight into human behavior.
Since, you are continually doing the work to know yourself better, you have come to a greater understanding of the universal emotions and behaviors of human beings. Those who are spiritually progressing come to see the world from a different vantage point than most others. You may start to notice how most people live on autopilot, not tapping into their highest potential, and are suffering as a result. You may have begun to notice how we all have similar needs, wants, and desires in life. We all want happiness, to feel appreciated, and be acknowledged. Instead, of using this insight to hurt or manipulate others, your sympathy and compassion grows, enabling you to connect with others on deeper levels.
»You realize your potential.
You don’t limit yourself or put restrictions on your abilities, instead you think big. You realize that we all have the potential to become powerful human beings, if only we allowed ourselves the time and space to tap into the confidence that exists within all of us. You no longer ask yourself the question, ‘can I do it?’ Instead, you ask, ‘how can I do it?’ You are able to envision your path clearly, follow through with goals you have set for yourself, while remaining flexible to any unexpected circumstances. Your inspiration lies in the belief that with hard work, discipline, and perseverance, you are capable of manifesting ideas that may have only once seemed like dreams.
»You have better impulse control.
You may start to notice that as you spiritually progress you slowly become less reactive and more responsive. You seem to have more control over your mind, quickly recognizing when you wander off into a chain of negative thoughts and being able to actively bring yourself back in to balance. You also find that you are able to stay focused for longer periods of time, increasing your ability to concentrate on the activity at hand and remain in the flow.
Personally, I have noticed that during meditation when I hear my phone ring/vibrate in the other room, I am able to stay focused, instead of wondering who it may be, if they left a message, and why they may have called. There was a time when I wouldn’t have believed that was possible! This has started to flow into other parts of my life, too. For instance, I able to recognize when anger starts to arise within me and get to the root of it before it becomes full blown.
»You are more selective of your inner circle.
You have become more particular of the people you choose to become friends with, as well as those you choose to let into your physical space, such as your home. You realize everyone carries different vibes of energy with them, made up of their individual attitudes, dispositions, and experiences; this energy affects us on the most subtle levels. Remaining mindful that energy is contagious, you invite into your space only those that hold within themselves honest intentions. When it may be difficult to avoid or recognize negative energy in others, you have learned ways to create boundaries, while remaining thoughtful and compassionate to yourself and those around you.
Those who are spiritually progressing are constantly working on moving forward and do not allow themselves to get stuck in the past. You begin to recognize that holding onto hurt prevents you from finding peace. You have experienced for yourself how resentment leads to an endless cycle of swaying emotions consisting of feeling happy one moment and then becoming angry the next moment. Instead, you work through whatever you need to in order to find true mental freedom and release yourself from the chaos in your mind, finally allowing yourself to experience equanimity.
»Your happiness comes from within.
You may find yourself having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude from everything to running water, to being able to have time for yourself, to enjoying nature. Things that you once took for granted are all of a sudden gifts from the universe and bring you an indescribable joy. Little by little you find that your happiness is no longer dependent on things outside of yourself, such as people or material items. Rather, you begin to know yourself well, finding confidence within, and remaining committed to this path you have chosen for yourself.
»Everyday becomes a bit more challenging…in a good way.
A common myth exists that those on the path to a truthful way of living do not experience discomfort, doubt, or uncertainty. Many people believe that those on this journey have found the secret to eternal happiness, spending the rest of their days glowing from the peace that they have found. However, you know that the exact opposite is true! Instead, things become a bit harder.
Lastly, remember your inner knowledge.
We just know when something has shifted within us. We feel different. A transformation has begun to take place, but we may be struggling to find the right words to describe what exactly is happening.
When we put energy into our personal development, a path of deeper meaning and greater realization emerges. Perhaps what we once assumed as part of our everyday routine has all of a sudden become questionable. Maybe the way we approach and solve problems has taken on a new direction. The things that once brought us joy no longer seems fulfilling. We may notice that the reactions we receive from friends and family reflects back to us how much we have changed.
When we give importance to our spiritual development, we gradually fill our time with purpose and meaning. We consciously engage in actions that help to uncover our true-selves and increase authentic happiness. This means living each day with intention.
Meditation helps us to find purpose and meaning in our lives. It is not only part of our self-care, but the internal work we do on a consistent basis that leads us to greater contentment.
Meditation helps us to realize what is real and unchanging. When we recognize what is truly important and let go of the superficial, we find the kind of inner peace that no one can take away.
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