Shortcuts to Spirituality
For the past 10 years I’ve been on a conscious path to enlightenment. However, I have always noticed that there are ups and downs in any given time period. Looking back to that point 10 years ago (when my path became a conscious one) it’s easy to see the overall progress, but it often feels like I’m taking one step back for every two steps forward.
Because we have limited time, I’m always looking for shortcuts to spirituality and I’ve found five easy ones that work great for me! When I’m practicing the four shortcuts below, I am always on top of my spiritual game. When I find that my path to enlightenment has become clouded or otherwise elusive, I am undoubtedly slipping in one or more of the following areas.
If you have a short attention span, the following blog says, “Drink less coffee, meditate every day, go on silent walks, write down your thoughts, and start NOW.”
For those of you with more interest in the subject, let’s proceed with the details.
Of the legal “drugs” available, caffeine is considered one of the mildest in terms of positive effects vs. side effects. However, I find caffeine to be far more negative for my spiritual growth than other substances. Although it is not as powerful as some other stimulants, it is considered “normal” in our society to drink 1-2 cups per day … and that’s what I had been doing prior to taking a 30-day break.
Recently, I was in Big Bear finishing the 1st draft of my new book, “Achieving Peace.” Because I don’t normally write for so many hours each day, I decided caffeine would be a good motivator … and it was. Not having had coffee for the previous 30 days or so, I became instantly motivated to write. However, I was not in Big Bear only to write, I was there to meditate as well.
Although the writing went well, the meditation was found lacking. I place the blame squarely on my decision to drink coffee. Because caffeine is a stimulant and meditation requires a certain state of calm awareness, the two do not mix well at all. In fact, even in my normal day-to-day life, I find that drinking coffee makes me less likely to meditate at night because of a lack of energy. It seems that, for me at least, coffee uses my entire day’s energy in the first ½ of the day. Then, to keep up the energy into the evening, another cup soon becomes required. Only, this 2nd cup is not nearly as effective and I find that my energy is pulled down into a larger slump once the “buzz” wears off.
You may be thinking, “That’s great for you, but I LOVES me my coffee.” This may be true, but it also may be the addiction talking. Because I’m on a “no caffeine diet” right now, I was able to easily judge my level of addiction. I find that I can easily become addicted to coffee within 2-3 days of drinking 1-2 cups/day. How do I know? Because, when I stop on day 4 (like I did after the Big Bear retreat), I get a major headache on day 5 followed by a general ache in my neck and trapezius on *day 6 which are all telltale signs of my body going through caffeine withdrawals.
*Today is day six by the way, hence coffee making it to the very top of my list!
Not sure how stopping your caffeine habit would help your spirituality? Try it for 30 days and LMK.
Mediation should be on everybody’s top shortcut list for achieving spiritual enlightenment. The only reason it’s not 1st on my list is because I noticed coffee was standing in my way from meditating more often. So, with coffee out of the way, my energy and commitment to meditative practices comes to the forefront.
I have yet to run across anybody who attained a high degree of enlightenment without a regular meditation practice. There are a million excuses for why we don’t have time to meditate, but they are all just that … excuses. It would be a better use of our time, for example, to meditate for 30 minutes rather than get an extra 30 minutes’ sleep. Your “problems” (which may be stopping you from meditating), would surely disappear or diminish as you practice meditation more regularly. You see, most of the problems in our life either caused by incorrect thinking or are made to be larger than they actually are. Through meditation, we learn to put space between ourselves and our thoughts, thus decreasing our problems and limiting our negative reactions to the ones that remain.
Silent walks are an awesome way to get in touch with your spirituality. When possible, it’s even more effective when done in a natural setting, but any walking is better than none. Because I don’t find the time to do nature hikes very often, I use ½ of my lunch break (even in the heat) to talk a walk and practice even breathing (8 steps breathing in, 8 steps holding my breath, 8 steps breathing out). The specific number may change depending on how easy or demanding the walk is. In any event, the combination of walking with moderate sun exposure has numerous health benefits which all lend themselves very nicely to achieving spiritual realization.
Silent walks can be done alone or with other people, but it’s important to remain perfectly quiet. The same benefits will not be realized if you are holding a conversation … even if you are whispering. If walking with other people, be sure to keep the conversation to a minimum (if you must talk) and make sure anything that is spoken is positive in nature. Walking and gossiping, as many people are prone to do, may still have physical health benefits, but it will detract from your spiritual wellbeing as gossip is the opposite of acceptance (and acceptance is a sure sign of spiritual maturity).
As well as reading spiritual material (like you’re doing right now) and watching spiritual programming, an easy shortcut to spirituality is writing. Writing down your thoughts can be done in a number of ways like journaling, free writing, etc., but your chosen style is not important. In fact, if you are having “writer’s block” when you sit down to start, you can simply write the same words or sentence over and over until your designated time is up or until you think of something else to say. If you are not accustomed to writing, or have limited proficiency, I would start with about 5 minutes.
One of the best times to write is after reading, watching or thinking something thought provoking. We have all read, seen or thought things that seem like life-changers, only to have the impact fade over time (usually sooner than later). A good way to retain the information you have learned, is simply to write down what you remember. You can add to it using your own thoughts and experiences, you can write down what you liked and/or didn’t like about it, etc. It’s really not important that you write something profound, only that you are taking action.
The last and possibly best shortcut in this list is to simply start now. If you are waiting for the perfect time to begin your spiritual endeavors, you are kidding yourself. There will never be that “perfect” time to get started because there is always another problem to take of care: There is always something for which you feel responsible. This is perfectly acceptable … for now. Make your spiritual practice one of those things which you feel you MUST get done today (and every day). If you keep a running to-do list, write “meditate” on your list every day and make sure you get to it. There is nothing more important most days, because getting “in the flow” with universal intelligence will make every aspect of your life that much easier.
I’m not asking you to trust me. I’m merely asking that you “try them on” for yourself, give them a real chance, and see how they work for you. Spirituality is an experiential process more than a thought process. So, try my shortcuts on for a time and let me know how they fit.
Read part two entitled, “Shortcuts to Spiritual Awareness.”