The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece.
The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning.
M. Scott Peck
Sometimes life is marvelous and magical.
Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes life is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant.
There are infinite circumstances and reactions.
What do you do when you experience emotional pain, fear, resentment, bitterness, anxiety or dissatisfaction?
How do you cope when life feels hopeless or absurd?
I learned the hard way. At 22, my first love died in an accident. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. I was swimming in grief. I acted out in unhealthy ways. I made unskillful choices. After that, I made more unskillful choices. I was left with the consequences of my behavior.
Eventually there was the moment when I realized that I was creating my own misery. I needed to take responsibility for how I was feeling. I couldn’t blame anyone else any longer. Actually, there were several of these moments. Change occurs in layers.
Eckhart Tolle said, “You must have failed deeply on some level or experienced some deep loss or pain to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Or perhaps your very success became empty and meaningless and so turned out to be a failure.”
When life is good and we feel happy, where’s the motivation to change?
It’s taken me 40 years to learn emotional and spiritual survival skills. I’m still not there yet. I’ll never be “there” and that’s just fine. I love the process. I’m constantly curious and fascinated by what it takes to be at peace.
I’m acutely aware when I’m experiencing anxiety, resentment or dissatisfaction. I don’t enjoy it, either. I’ve experienced serenity and it’s just so.much.better. I’m not always happy. I’ve had my fair share of depressive episodes. Fortunately I know what to do once I figure out it’s time to do it. Thank goodness for my intellect.
Neuroscientists have found and measured chemical changes in the brain when a person is having a spiritual or religious experience. These practices improve our mental state of mind.
David B. King outlined four skills necessary for Spiritual Intelligence. I believe we need these mental abilities in order to cope with all the curve balls life throws at us. Spiritual intelligence is comparable to mental intelligence. I’ve paraphrased these four components.
- Critical thinking. You need to be able to think clearly and contemplate the metaphysical world.
- Personal meaning. You need to be aware of your life and your surroundings so that you can find your life’s purpose.
- Transcendental awareness. Acknowledgement of a metaphysical self.
- Conscious state expansion. The ability to reach a higher state of consciousness through prayer, meditation or contemplation.
I know what’s tried and true, what works over time. No matter what your religion is, there are universal spiritual skills that can be practiced. They aren’t bandaids or quick fixes. They aren’t necessarily easy to do day after day but you will see results. I sincerely believe in the necessity of learning these things sooner than later. I wasted a lot of time. Don’t waste time.
We are on a very small blue marble in the middle of an enormous universe. We are nothing. We are everything. We are what we make of it.
The universe is a single atom: the convergence of science and spirituality. Dalai Lama
Move your attention away from others and place it on yourself. Get centered. Learn and practice the skills that help you cope with life. What is the result? Peace of mind and relief from suffering.
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