Maintaining A Spiritual Outlook
As we collectively turn a page, I’d like to offer up some thoughts about maintaining a spiritual outlook in the era ahead. Living a spiritual life does not mean avoiding the realities of the world. It means engaging with the world as the sacred manifestation that it is. I hope the ideas below will help you stay mentally, spiritually, and physically well as we move forward.
1. REGULARLY TAKE TIME TO GET QUIET
We are stepping into a time of greater uncertainty and there are many alarms sounding. Uncertainty alone makes most of us feel anxious, and the potential threats we are facing obviously amplify our anxiousness and fear. Fear has a contracting quality to it, not an expansive one. It narrows our vision and awareness. It also negatively impacts the body, putting both the mind and the body into an unhealthy, unpleasant state of imbalance, with the body reinforcing the discontent of the mind and vice versa.
Therefore, it is important to take time regularly to stop, get quiet, let go and get clear. Spend quiet time finding a place of acceptance for what is true, and let your awareness expand to the greatest possible context of understanding. Remember, understanding does not mean agreeing. Try not to shake your head at the things that anger or bewilder you, but rather seek to understand and accept these things, their causes and effects, with an open heart. Seek to understand more fully why a thing matters to you, until you find the love behind the fear, then act from the love. As Einstein so rightly said, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
2. ONLY CONNECT
Disagree, speak the truth, discuss, teach, protect yourself and all that you love. But do not sever, do not punish, do not divide or harm. If all we are doing is putting negative things out of sight, or passing on the ball of fire, those things will continue to exist and we will miss our opportunities to grow and change. Consider reading my previous post on passive violence here.
We must all do the steady, hard work of creating greater consciousness, of encouraging love, compassion, and awareness. Learn from the ways of Standing Rock, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, or any one of the many others who have set the example of acting from the strength and power of love. Practice metta, compassion, and steadiness, and take care not to confuse these things with being passive or coddling.
This applies to how you engage with others, as well as how you engage with the voices within you.
3. FOCUS ON THE THINGS WITHIN YOUR REACH
Understand that there are many forces creating our personal and collective reality. When it comes to manifesting or creating change, put the elements that are in your control and your reach at the forefront of your attention and act on those things. Place the rest in your periphery.
If you choose to participate in the mending or protection of the world, remember that it is not all up to you and you are not alone. There are many hands helping. Aim to mend the part of the world that is within your reach. And if sometimes things don’t go the way you had hoped, consider that there may be some greater or as yet unknown good in that.
4. EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE
In too many ways, our society has lost touch with the path of psychological and spiritual development. Instead, we are trying to create lives of impossible security, predictability, and unsustainable convenience. We want the goal without the work, the destination without the process. All of these things go against nature and when we go against nature, ultimately we lose.
Living in the comfort zone weakens our constitution. In the comfort zone, qualities such as joy, courage, and curiosity begin to atrophy. We become disinterested, unfulfilled, depressed and agitated. Simply put, we suffer from a sense of meaninglessness. But when we step outside of our comfort zone, we grow. We become more confident, we feel more alive, we even begin to love ourselves more. In fact, when we live outside our comfort zone, the comfort zone itself expands.
So consider examining how you can consciously step outside of your comfort zone more often. And don’t underestimate the benefits of small changes, such as answering your phone when someone calls, or calling instead of texting. Ask for help when you need it. Be willing to say or show how you really feel. Our small transgressions of avoidance have a significant and cumulative effect on us, and very few people have found happiness in the confines of the comfort zone.
5. BE OF SERVICE
The psychologist Victor Frankl says that the primary drive in a human being is toward a sense of meaning or purpose. In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, he writes that “[t]hose who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” In my own work, as a student heals and approaches a greater sense of wholeness, they inevitably begin asking themselves how they can be of service in the world. With one’s own wholeness and increased capacity for love, this longing to serve becomes stronger. It also happens that through service, one begins to feel more whole. The hunger for meaning and purpose becomes satisfied, and a sense of self-love grows in the soil of one’s own kindness. If you are not already engaged in a mode of service, consider doing so. If you feel unsure what to do or where to start, just start somewhere and you will be guided. There are plenty of beings and places that need you.
6. REMEMBER THAT UNCERTAINTY CAN TURN OUT WELL
One of our mind’s primary functions is to predict the future to keep us safe. This means it is constantly on the lookout for dangers. But as much as the days ahead are indeed ripe with dangers, please remember that they are also ripe for a great shift towards a more compassionate and evolved humanity. Uncertainty can also turn out well, and our thoughts are amongst the forces that will determine the outcome.
In Taoist philosophy, the manifestations of the present are considered the past. For the Taoist, current manifestations are merely the result of previous thoughts. Just like when you look at the stars, you are seeing them as they once were, not as they are now. In other words, the way we are thinking and acting right now is creating the future. If you are fearful, the future will be fearful. If you are hateful, the future will be hateful. This is very important to understand. If we want a future rooted in love, compassion, and a higher consciousness, we must learn to think and act from those places. We can do that.
I send you all my best wishes for the era ahead.