Consistency on the Spiritual Journey: The Personal “Eightfold” Path
Everybody wants to “be more spiritual” but staying on the Spiritual Course is often easier said than done. Raj Rana opens up on the very real experience of falling off the spiritual path and explores a few of his favorite ways of finding his way back.
Generally, when I start something new, I throw everything I can towards it and take it on with great enthusiasm. At the same time, I also tend to get distracted when I don’t see immediate results – something I have known for a while that I need to work on.
Meditation and the practice of spirituality are things that I have courted several times but due to distractions I have fallen off the ‘spiritual bandwagon’. The most recent one was Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance Challenge. I made it only to Day 7 or 8 🙁
It’s safe to say that I have not benefited from any practice. Or maybe I have and I’m just not aware of it?
Regardless, I decided to do some research of my own and speak with a few ‘spiritual’ friends that practice spirituality regularly to get some suggestions on how I can keep consistent. These gurus of mine have often spoken about being enlightened themselves from their practices – yes, I did feel a tiny bit of envy. It passed quickly.
Anyway, here’s what they had to say.
- Meditating with others, or having a ‘partner’ can help you stay on track. As with any practice or activity, having someone or others with you will motivate you to keep at it. At the start in some way, you will also feel accountable to others to keep at it. This group could be on Facebook, WhatsApp or other virtual platforms. I have only ever meditated by myself, perhaps this is the first thing I need to change?
- Keeping a calendar entry for the times I should be meditating has been suggested. This should help me keep a regular schedule. Kind of an obvious one for me. I’m generally quite anal about schedules so not sure why I behaved differently for this :/ If the app or site you use has this inbuilt as functionality that’s a bonus.
- Keeping a diary or maintaining a log of your achievements can also help. Writing and reading your thoughts goes a long way in making your practice seem real and worthwhile. Can’t remember the last time I kept a diary, so this will be an interesting one to start.
- Picking a time of the day that suits you. Early morning may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so finding a time that works for you is crucial. A time that your mind is clear and free of distractions. Personally, for me the first thing in the morning when my family is still asleep works best.
- Don’t make judgements. I’ve been told countless times not to make judgements when mediating. About myself or the practice and just let it flow. When I think back to Deepak’s challenge, I did judge the intention of the challenge around the time I stopped it. At the end of Day 7 or 8, I was asked to forward the challenge to a number of friends. Hmm.
- Don’t get discouraged if you fail. Thinking meditation or being spiritual is easy and that by getting distracted you are failing is a common reason for many to stop. Getting distracted or wandering away from the path you are seeking are all part and parcel of the journey. Once you accept this, you will embrace it more.
- Get back up with renewed enthusiasm. Every time you fall away, instead of beating yourself up about it, forgive yourself and try again. Personally, this resonates with me a lot and definitely something I can easily start with.
- Expected the unexpected. Expecting an ‘experience’ can also make you think it’s not working for you or doing any good. This is a popular misconception perpetuated by the media, that I have bought into hook line and sinker. As long as you start becoming more aware of the present and yourself and you unclutter your mind, you are getting there. OK. Baby steps.
Armed with these suggestions, I will be trying again to get back into a routine of spiritual practice, perhaps with my spiritual friend Deepak once again.
Do you have any other suggestions in being consistent with spirituality? Give these a try the next time you find yourself wavering; your required stimulus may just be hiding in plain sight.