Spiritual enlightenment is a goal that many wish to obtain. It has been talked, written, and deliberated about for years upon years. Meditation is a pathway through which enlightenment can be experienced. Meditation involves repeated focus on the present moment, a mantra, or the breathing in the body. Time frames for the process do not matter, but it typically takes more practice to extend the meditation time past an hour long.
Feel free to meditate within the comfort of your own home. The couch, bed, or an area designated for meditation all work perfectly. You can ask your family members (or those you live with) to keep noise down for the period of time you wish to meditate. You can also arrange for them to be out of the house, or choose a meditation time when roommates or other individuals will not be present.
You can also meditate with a group. A quick search online will provide you with local gatherings for meditation or workshops that involve the practice. Meditating in a group can give you a chance to learn from others or to make friends that are working on their spiritual journey as you are. These spaces are intended to be non-judgmental, so listen to your intuition if you feel that those around you are not welcoming or inviting.
Meditating with affirmations playing in the background helps me to rewire my brain. I find recorded videos of speakers who repeat positive statements. I listen to them, and I am able to notice where my thoughts are not aligned with them. I can notice it as an area that I need to work on. Later, I can do journaling, communicating with professionals, or other forms of healing so that I can understand myself and my motives better.
The process of meditation creates opportunities for learning about the self. When meditating, you can figure out what your mind does in relation to certain life situations. You can also gain control of the mind so that you are not swayed by life’s inevitable rough patches. This practice helps you to know yourself in a way that you likely have not before.
Meditating deepens your connection with the present moment. That is all there ever really is. You are more able to recognize those around you and the life experiences you are going through. The process helps you to clear your head and/or observe your thoughts so that you can arrange and plan accordingly. In addition, meditating can aid in a deeper connection with nature, the universe, and those on Earth that you do not know firsthand. In my experience, I found myself having more compassion for human beings that I knew and did not know as my practice continued.
What Exactly is Enlightenment?
Enlightenment has been an achievement that millions of people aspire to. It seems as though it is this lofty and exaggerated event, but it truly refers to being awake and being aware. Before beginning my spiritual journey, I thought enlightenment meant that everything would be metaphorically glowing and that I would have all of the answers to every question I’d ever asked on my spiritual path. This was far from the case, although enlightenment is a sincerely liberating experience.
Enlightenment is the ability to know that you can have inner peace regardless of outside circumstances. It is to have control of the mind in such a way that suffering and other difficult areas of life do not destroy your belief in love and truth. It seems as though it is something that is hard to obtain, but it requires non-judgment, patience, and authenticity.
Non-judgment is one of the parts to enlightenment that creates the most freedom. In meditation, you will learn to not judge the mind and the thoughts that can impact it. This practice is necessary with your relationship with the world and others also. Observe what is happening around you without having to change it. Realize and notice what is going on in the lives of others without being overcome with emotion or thought. There are some reactions that cannot be controlled. But, as much as possible, try to be a witness to your life instead of swaying with the winds of change.
Non-judgment allows you to live in peace with those around you. Judging is a natural habit that we all take part in. But noticing that it is happening and shifting your mind is key. Reminding yourself that others are trying the best that they can will help you to respond to others from a place of understanding instead of from one of criticism.
A facet of enlightenment is also being able to live mentally in the present moment. Of course, our bodies are in the here and now. There is nothing we can do to change that. However, our minds are typically everywhere else but where we are now. We are bombarded with thoughts of regret or guilt about how we could have changed circumstances in the past. Conversely, we are gripped with fear and worry about future events. Neither of these are in our control, though. Only the present moment is.
Meditation (and the practice of mindfulness as well) allows us to be okay with where we are now. Taking inventory of the totality of your current experience drives mindfulness. Striving for other goals and objects is not something that is “wrong”, but it is something that can cause us severe stress and pain. Being able to accept the current moment as it is is the key to becoming enlightened.
Your meditation practice can consist of you making a mental (or physical) list of all the things you are thankful for in your life right now. This will generate a spirit of gratitude that can help you to appreciate your life. The energy of gratitude will also help you to focus on all of the positive things that are already in your life so that you aren’t spending your time wishing everything would change. This list is something that can ground you when it feels like you cannot identify what you enjoy about your life today.
It is okay to wish for things to change and to take action for this to happen. In the meantime, though, how do you feel about the way things are now? To resist them is to create suffering for yourself, and it is a very uncomfortable state to be in. The best solution for mental peace and clarity is to allow the current moment to exist as it is. Breathe and experience life as it is now. Circumstances will certainly change, so spend time noticing how it is here.
There is nothing that we can do to change the past. Knowing this and truly believing it in your soul will decrease anxiety immensely. The future is influenced by how we behave and think in the present moment, but worrying past our ability to control events creates inner turmoil. Again, setting goals, making plans, and striving for something different is not the problem. The main issue lies in only being happy if these plans, goals, and achievements come into fruition. Being okay either way is where true joy and happiness lies.
Naturally, reaching the state of enlightenment should only guide you to want to share your experience with others. Do not force your experience on them. If people ask and are interested in knowing, share with them in the spirit of non-competitiveness. Your ego is exactly what will separate you from feeling awake and enlightened. Humility is important, and teaching others should be seen as a privilege and not a right. Understand that you are equal to those around you, not above or below them. This perspective is relevant for personal and professional life.
Spreading joy and love should take precedence in all of your interactions. Here are some practical tips:
- Speak to others with love and kindness. Take care to not hurt others with your words or actions.
- Make sure that you listen to them mindfully and show empathy for their situations.
- Be a friend to all that you meet and treat others as you would want them to treat you.
- Maintain assertiveness and boundaries, but take time to show others that you appreciate them and the roles that they play in your life.
- Volunteer for causes that you are passionate about.
Give back in your family, work, and community life. This does not mean that you should over-extend yourself to the point of burnout or fatigue. It also does not mean that you should hoard or take things from others. Donate food, money, or time to organizations around you – or give firsthand. Be generous in what you have – especially if you have an abundance of something. This is not limited to physical possessions either.
Spiritual gifts, such as gifts of discernment or encouragement, should be given freely also. Don’t be afraid to send someone a positive note or message. Leave kind letters or uplifting words in random places like coffee shops or bars. Meet a new friend, and be liberal in your compliments. Read books to children. Love others in whatever form they prefer. Spreading this kind of energy should feel effortless on your enlightened path.
Recognize the voice of the ego. This will include thoughts or feelings of jealousy, envy, anger, possession, and harm of others. This is absolutely not the way to interact with others, as you can cause significant damage to people who do not deserve it. The voice of the ego might be present in your mind at times, but it is your choice to not act upon it. Enlightenment is not a popularity contest. It is a way for you to have a deeper connection with those whom you share the planet with.
Meditating in groups can be a truly rewarding experience. I know that each time I have practiced with others, I have felt closer with them and with other human beings afterward. Each of you focusing your energy on calm, peace, or any other intention that you set can bring about positive vibrations your lives. Ask some of your friends if they are interested in starting a practice with you, or seek out other meditators in your local area.
Changing the world is only about changing yourself. Through this, others will see your example and may be willing to examine areas in their life that they want changed. The ego will tell you that you should gain popularity or fame from your enlightened experiences, but that should not be the goal. Sharing with others in order to help them on your path – if they desire that help – should be the greatest motivator. We all have choices about where we want to go in life, and you are able to be a light to others along the path of spirituality.
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