"We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all." - Kalu Rinpoche
We all would want to attain spiritual growth, only if it was an easy process. Spirituality comes very easily to those who are dedicated to it and sincerely follow it. We often leave the path of spirituality because of distractions around, often because of what people's perceptions are towards it, and often because we find it difficult to follow.
Spirituality is actually not all that difficult. And, please don't make the grapes sour! Anything till it is in the form of a thought looks and feels difficult, until taken into practice. Once you start moving, the journey automatically begins and roads begins to open. That is exactly how it works for spirituality too. All you've gotta to do is begin.
In this article, I am going to give you a few exercises that will help you in attaining higher spiritual levels. Practice them regularly and you will feel the change in yourself. It's no magic, but a state of mind which sorts out the negative feelings and thoughts and gives you inner strength.
Yoga is an ancient practice that has recently gained a lot of attention. It originates from India but is now practiced world over. Yoga is an ancient technique used to keep fit and attain higher levels of spirituality. There are many stretches that you perform in yoga that tones, shapes and strengthens your body. Not only that it also opens the '7 Chakras' within us. It is said and believed that once all the chakras are opened in a human body, it begins to understand the laws of the universe and its motto on earth.
There is a very important breathing practice followed in yoga, called 'Pranayama'. In this practice there are a set of breathing exercises that one must practice. These exercises increase your memory power, mental and physical strength, concentration and also your life span. This practice takes a little time to seep in but once it has, spirituality is following you.
"Any spirituality can be enhanced with the practice or study of yoga." - Christy Turlington
We have been taught since our childhood to pray. We need to pray to our god or the creator (if you are an atheist). Praying is not about asking God for something, or just confiding in him but it is more of a resort that brings you inner peace. As they say we all have God within us, by praying you are actually stimulating and awakening your sub-conscious mind. Praying can be in the form a prayer that you have learned or you can also pray with your own recitation. Develop the habit of praying daily; be it short or a long prayer, as long as you are doing it with all your will and dedication.
"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." - Rumi
There are different ways of meditating. Meditating is not just sitting in a room and closing your eyes. Meditation is staying within yourself without being distracted and diverted to the things happening outside you. Yoga is one way, another way is when you sit with crossed legs with a straight back and close your eyes and move to a state of nothingness. Nothingness means you get yourself out of the "Me" and "The world" for that particular time. Meditation and spirituality are directly linked and connected with each other. The deeper you go into meditation, you can attain higher spiritual levels. Choose your own way of meditating, be it yoga, sitting in silence or even singing or dancing, any activity which will make you forget yourself and the world.
"One hour's meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer." - Muhammad
Practice Proper Breathing
It is funny but most of us, don't follow the correct breathing technique. It is so simple and so ubiquitous but still, most of us go wrong. The correct way of breathing is by filling air till our abdomen and then slowly taking it up, releasing it from our nose. Your stomach should be pulled in when you breath in and it should blow out when you breath out. Notice the movement of your stomach and how deeply you normally breathe. We as kids breath in a perfect way but as we grow up we tend to distort the pattern. It is said that when a person is under stress, or any illness his breathing pattern automatically, goes wrong. And that is why a correct breathing technique can cure many diseases. Yes! That is the power of breathing.
"Angels are all around us, all the time, in the very air we breathe." - Eileen Elias Freeman
By serving others I mean, serve the needy. We spend most of our time with our friends, family and people we know. But we don't really bother about others who have been disowned and abandoned by their own families. We have never needed to! But spending time with them makes you realize what really happens outside the world you have cocooned in. The magnitude of your troubles and worries will start to lessen. Moreover, serving others in any form brings a sense of responsibility and satisfaction to an individual. You begin to understand that life is filled with tasks and tests and that every single person who is smiling or crying is fighting his/her own battle. By helping someone you will help yourself by gaining knowledge, maturity and strength to fight against evils.
"The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
In this fast world, we all are always late for everything and short of everything. And its effect is first seen in our sleeping pattern. We reduce our sleeping time and when in stress, we don't sleep in peace. Sleeping is very important because we heal and communicate with our subconscious mind while doing so. Sleeping not only brings peace and calmness to our minds but also gives us solutions to our problems, inner strength and relaxes our muscles. How much ever you sleep, sleep well. Keeping all your worries, and problems aside. And this is not motivating enough, then let me tell you that, sleeping also enhances your beauty.
"Sleep is the best meditation." - Dalai Lama
We are rushing all the time, and in the process to reach on time and meet our commitments, we tend to miss out on everything that passes by. We miss out on the beautiful rising sun, an old tree, someone you could help, and other people, even when they are right in front of our eyes. By observing more, you attain completeness in terms of what you understand, perceive and even feel. You will then not be carried away with the rosy pictures shown to you, but you will also see the thorns. It will be easier for you to accept and understand that life is not a smooth, straight road, but a roller-coaster ride filled with excitement and thrills.
"All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention". - Rudolf Arnheim
Listen to Others
We, 'The current generation' do not have the patience to listen to anyone. We may 'hear' but not really 'listen'. We think the oldies are slow, boring and outdated. But we forget that they have done and gone through everything that we have experienced or are going to experience. They are now in a stage, where we all are going to reach someday. Hear them and you might just gain some insight on things you we pondering about. Also, we think that children know nothing, but that's not true. The wisdom they have when they are two outgrows the wisdom that we adults have. So, listen and observe carefully, and most of your answers will be revealed to you.
"Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story" - Max Ehrman quotes
Spend Time with Nature
We spend hours on our PCs, TVs and music players. But we all have lost track with the most beautiful things on earth. We don't climb the mountains, swim in the river, dance in the rain, watch the flight of birds and also forget to observe that there are other creatures living around us, and that this world belongs to them equally. Spend time on real things and not reel things for attaining spiritual growth. Staying with nature gives you an understanding and awareness of all the other constituents that make the planet earth, which in turn will increase your spiritual knowledge.
"What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" - William Henry Davies
To attain spiritual growth, you must increase your concentration power as that will increase your ability to grasp things. An increased concentration power will also enable you to meditate better and also help in you in taking better decisions. There are exercises like 'staring at a flaming candle' in a dark room. This is a very famous technique of increasing concentration. Burn a candle in a dark room and focus your eyes on it, without blinking them for about 10 minutes. You may feel nothing at first but later you will realize how it has empowered you. Do it regularly, whenever you get time and when there is no distraction around.
"Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration." - Willie Sutton
There are very few people that I know who have gratitude. Most people keep blaming others, crib about how terrible their life is and how they wished that God was fair to them. All said and done. But hello! What about all the good things you have? What about whatever you have, and where you are today? What about all those people who actually love you, care for you and help you out? What about God keeping you safe when so many people are dying in tsunamis and earthquakes?
There is so much more! Nobody's life is perfect and without problems and all of you know even one person like that, then trust me, it's that person who has made his life better and moreover that person is thankful for all that he has. Thank God or the creator for every beautiful thing around you and for all that you have, for you may never know when it is taken away from you and you may not get the opportunity to realize that you even had them.
"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" - Henry Ward Beecher
You are Responsible for Everything in Your Life
No matter what has happened to you, you are the sole person responsible for it. Even if someone has cheated on you and left you aghast or even if your parents' separation led to spoiling your life or anything for that matter, it is you who makes the decision of reacting and acting in a way. We have people who we love, and we believe that they are ours. Irrespective of that, we all are individuals, with our own heads and will to shape our lives the way we want to. Everything thing you have today and every thought you make is making your future, which implies that you are and will always be the person responsible for life.
"You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions."
If nothing motivates you to improve and move ahead, use a reverse psychology application, which is "what goes around will come around". Anything you do, good or bad will come back to you, without an exception. So, you are making a conscious choice. If you give in a lot to anything good or bad, it will come back to you with the same force. And understanding this fact and making it into reality is what spirituality is.
Spirituality is no magic, but more of a state of mind and the independence of your mind and soul to take charge of your own life. If you want to know how much you have grown in spirituality, just see how much you love others and that's where your answer lies. If you feel love for everyone and everything around you or even if you are almost there, you know you are growing spiritually. It is not tough to attain but it needs determination. So, Never give up. Spiritual growth will not be attained by merely following the above exercises, but you will also need to have a good diet, regular exercise and manage your time well. Always remember this famous quote, "The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach" - Pliny the Elder.