Growing Spiritually ...
We are all sleepwalking through this experience we call life. Our only purpose here is to become aware of this state of illusion in which we live our daily lives. It is only in this state of awareness that our life takes on it's true dimension. To become "awakened" in life is to shed all of our preconceived ideas of what our experiences mean and allow them to take on a new meaning based on who we really are ... instead of what we've all been programmed to be. "How do we do this?" you ask. We do this through spiritual growth ... by getting on the path to awareness!
THE PATH TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH & AWARENESS:
Spiritual growth is the expansion of personal truths outside of the illusory perceptions produced by false belief systems ... it is a movement toward reality ... it is a process of becoming more than we were before ... a process of becoming a stronger and better being ... a process of coming to know who we really are! It is the process of moving closer to being able to love unconditionally ... our primary goal on this journey called life. It is every person's ultimate goal to learn to love unconditionally and "Be" that who we really are ... Spirits Of Unconditional Love (SOUL). This is a difficult task at best in this world of physicality, but one that everyone must achieve in the end. The world of physicality with the tools of polarity and time and space continuum provides us a great opportunity to experience and learn some of the lessons necessary to love unconditionally ... by first learning what it isn't.
This opportunity for spiritual growth is part of the reason that we tend to establish relationships with people of the opposite sex ... a way of seeking and learning unconditional love. Romantic love is something that happens TO us ... it is something that we actively "DO". Unconditional love is something we have to "BE". Loving unconditionally is actually accomplished through a powerful form of inner subtle energy that we can learn to send out from the energy centers of our Soul. This energy emanates from our Soul as Divine Love and we can send it out to others in moments of consciousness ... it vibrates within us as a power source to our inner being. This includes learning to be accepting of others, to trust, to need and be needed ... to commit to being kind, compassionate, patient, open, etc. It takes the pursuit of these attributes of love to prepare us for changes in spiritual growth.
Words alone cannot relate to you the rewards that we receive out of growing. As you begin to experience these rewards through your initial efforts, you will see how easily they can inspire anyone to want to grow spiritually. With each step towards growing spiritually, you will experience a very noticeable lessening of the negative emotions that relate to fear and anger. And on an even more positive side, you get to feel things ... feelings of peace and love within that you may have experienced only in brief moments in your life. Over time, you will become more sensitive of other people's emotions and vibrations and are able to know what they are because you can feel them by tuning into them.
The more we grow, the better our life becomes! We have more serenity and less stress ... more love and less hate ... more joy and less pain. You will find that relationships with others go more smoothly because you are better able to choose relationships that are good for you ... relationships that more closely coincide with your own vibrations. You make less mistakes, such as becoming involved with the wrong people and situations ... those people and situations that are not for your greatest good. On the more cerebral side, we become more sensitive to thinking consciously and therefore are able to think more clearly, and are better able to sense what to expect in particular situations.
As human 'beings,' emotions are there to show us who we are being and where we're at. They are strong indicators of what is good for us, and what is not. Whenever we feel any form of emotion ... energy-in-motion ... we are receiving a message about what we are being. It's as simple as that! Sometimes emotions can be almost overpowering in telling us how we are doing in terms of following the path that our Soul has chosen. They are tools that the Soul uses to nudge us and tell us that we are straying from its path. This is particularly true of the negative emotions which include a variety of fears and anger. These emotions indicate that certain aspects of our life are not going smoothly, and that there are changes that we need to make. The negative things we feel most strongly emotionally are also those things that we will feel most compelled to deal with. These are the things to concentrate on when we seek spiritual growth.
Each negative emotion has a connection to a particular way of being, and when we feel that emotion, we subconsciously know it is that particular way of being that is giving us problems. So when you are considering what attitudes you most need to change, the negative emotions are strong messengers. Emotions such as feeling intimidated, lonely, restricted, guilty, helpless, obligated, defensive, sad, pessimistic, regretful, remorseful, discouraged, disappointed, jealous, aggressive, frustrated, bitter, angry, disapproving, resentful, and revengeful, are prime candidates for attitude change.
Similarly, the positive emotions are indicators that the different aspects of your life are going well. Positive emotions of joy, peace, contentment, satisfaction, abundance, joy and happiness function as a kind of reward for being able to make your life work well.
Very simply, if we wish to leave the pain of negative emotions, we must change our attitude. In general, our attitude can be defined as the overall mental orientation that we hold toward a person or type of situation. It is this overall mental orientation or attitude that others feel from us. Attitude is composed of energy thought patterns ... beliefs ... that make up our perspective, outlook, viewpoint, or approach to life. It is that energy that not only draws those things, situations and people to us, but it is also the energy that causes us to act and react to these things, situations and people in our life. It is this energy that changes in a smooth and continuous way as we grow spiritually. Making attitude changes is a fundamental part of spiritual growth because it is our attitude that determines the type of the subtle energy that we contain within ... and it is this subtle energy that spiritual growth transforms into unconditional love.
In order to grow outside of the realm of fear and pain, it is necessary to change a mental attitude. When we change an attitude, and start to operate according to the new attitude, we expand our experience of life into new and different areas. It has been said that experience is the best teacher. This is because experience gives us feedback, and it is feedback that is our real teacher. It is the feedback from new experiences through which we achieve a new mental awareness that helps us operate our life better.
If you want to make an attitude change, it is good to begin with that area of your life that places you in pain and turmoil on a frequent basis. This is where you will experience the calming effects of an attitude change. For those of you who are not familiar with this process of making attitude changes, you may initially resist the idea because both the process and the outcome are unfamiliar territory and it can be scary to enter such unfamiliar grounds. It can be disturbing to face the possibility of changing how you experience life when you have no idea what direction the change will take you. However, it is this initial experience that you must decide to go through to come to know what to expect. We assure you, you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome, to say the least.
It is important to understand that there is both comfort and discomfort in staying with an old and familiar viewpoint or attitude. Therefore, there is a certain level of comfort in continuing to do what you have always done because you know what the outcome will be. You know what outcome to expect, even though you don't like how you feel when it happens. There is also pain in continuing in your old ways, and even more so when you feel as if nothing is going the way you want, and your world is about to come crashing down upon you. It is likewise important to understand that the prospect of changing to something unfamiliar automatically triggers your fear of the unknown and so, sometimes things have to get extremely bad before you are less afraid of an attitude change than of continuing in the previous direction. This is why the first attitude change is often a move of desperation ... a last ditch effort to get out of the pain and make your life work.
For these reasons, it usually takes a build up of a lot of faith before you feel ready to make the first attitude change. In taking this step, it helps to know your life will be truly better after the change ... and that is one of the reasons we prepared this guide ... to assure you that once you decide to do so, you will never want to return to the discomfort of living with your old attitude. This is one of the main things that makes you willing to go through whatever is necessary to make the change happen. And you need to know that there is really nothing to be afraid of.
As I said, the sooner that you make the decision to alter your present attitude, the sooner you will find a vast improvement taking place in your life. As I have also said, you will experience the rewards of doing so almost immediately. From thereon, you will breathe a sigh of relief as you get used to the new attitude and it becomes a part of who you really are. When this happens, the discomfort experienced from your old behaviors will disappear and the feelings of joy and happiness will replace those of fear and pain; making you feel stronger and more self-confident. Perhaps best of all, you will be expending a lot less energy on coping with the negative emotions and will find that you now have more energy to put into accomplishing those things that will further the joy and happiness in your life. It is through these series of rewards that you will be inspired to make more attitude changes to further improve the quality of your life.
The downside, if there is any, is that the first attitude change can be very difficult emotionally. It is through the pain that such emotions bring that the ego will use to its advantage. As such, doubts will enter your mind because you will think that you are merely trading one pain for another. However, know that this is the only pain that you must face in order to release that which was a part of you for perhaps as long as you have lived. But, it is here that I wish to tell you that this pain, though it may appear as severe, is of a brief duration and subsequent changes become more and more easier. It is when you begin to realize through the second change that nothing terrible is going to happen to you in making these changes that you will be encouraged to continue on to more changes. And, by the time you have experienced the third attitude change, you now will have come to trust that you don't need to be afraid of what lies on the other side of a change. This is because things feel so much better to you, a feeling that comes from no longer having the strong negative emotional responses to things that used to bother you. It is through such feelings that you come to know that you have grown in your spiritual awareness ... and when you can suddenly look back on a particular experience and say "Now I know why I had to go through that," it is then that you know that you have really grown.
Now comes the reality of what has just been presented ... the steps that precede making an attitude change:
Step 1. WILLINGNESS:
A smoker does not quit smoking until he reaches that point where he is willing to put down that next cigarette and do whatever it takes to stop him from picking up another. An alcoholic does not quit drinking until he is willing to put down that drink and do whatever is necessary so that he will not want to pick up another. In order to start the process of spiritual growth, you must first be willing to go through whatever is necessary to change that which is moving you away from unconditional love and move you in the opposite direction. In short, the first step is a "willingness" to do whatever it takes to grow spiritually ... to change that attitude that is leading you in the direction away form unconditional love. If your pain still isn't that great, don't wait for it to get worse ... and it will ... before you take positive action.
You notice that every time you are in a certain kind of situation, and respond in your normal way, the outcome is consistent but not to your liking. You experience some kind of dissatisfaction with how a particular type of thing continually seems to work out. You don't like it and want to change it, but you are afraid of changing anything in your attitudes because the result is unknown and therefore scary. After a continuation of unpleasant experiences in this same area, you eventually get to the point where you will do anything to change this pattern of events that causes you so much pain and unhappiness. In order to be able to make your first attitude change, it is usually necessary to get to the point where you are willing to go through whatever it takes to change this thing. If you are not yet at that point, you will not have what it takes to complete the change. This is the first step in making changes.
Step 2. WATCHFULNESS:
This step is about being "watchful" of your thoughts. It's about taking action to identify what attitude you need to change. You do this by looking at the cause-and-effect pattern of the thoughts that come up time and again that you dislike so much, and you ask yourself why this pattern happens. You will get at least some possible answers. You will probably find only partial answers at first, so then you simply need to keep asking why until you get to a place where there are no more why's to ask. It is at this point that you will have what you might consider the most likely answer. In other words, this is the point when you will discover what you have to do in terms of changing your mental attitude. This process of "watchfulness" and searching for the answer "why" takes effort and can be emotionally draining and painful in itself, and this is the reason that you have to want the change very badly. Going back to what I said in step 1, if you don't want the change badly enough, you simply won't make it through this part of the process. This is the second and most difficult step in making changes.
Step 3. VISUALIZATION:
After getting through steps 1 and 2, it's time for you to decide if you will now put out the effort to change to the new attitude. It's important that you understand that you should try at least long enough to see the difference in the results it produces. It follows then, that you must plant this new mental attitude firmly in your mind by focusing on it as deeply as possible and with as much emotion so that you can actually feel the freedom and peace that it has to offer you. Take the time to practice visualizing going through situations which would have normally provoked your response of your old attitude and see yourself in your mind's eye experiencing the different many pleasant effects that will result ... visualizing a feeling of total peace and contentment instead of pain and disgust.
It is through this visualization that you will see and clearly feel the different results that your new attitude will bring and thus, it will manifest, providing that concrete evidence that you need to fully commit yourself to further change. Perform these visualization exercises daily; especially when the ego comes in to try to convince you to revert back to the old attitude, because this indeed will happen and in many cases, as the ego begins to feel loss of control, such thoughts will become more and more subtle and insidious ... anything to regain its control. Do this until the new attitude is firmly in place as the normal response mechanism.
Step 4. EFFORT:
The fourth and final step in the process is effort. Effort is required all through this process. Your efforts first of all to become willing to change ... your efforts to be "watchful" of your thought pattern ... your efforts to manifest the greatest rewards through the tool of visualization ... and finally, your overall effort to use the new attitude at every opportunity. It is when you do this that you will notice and feel the difference in the results pattern from the old attitude to the new. Remember, it's your efforts here that produce the greatest feedback and rewards that we discussed earlier. After a few weeks of applying your new found attitude, it will become like a habit and will kick in automatically ... no longer requiring any conscious effort by you.
It's important to understand that the true value of anything is in the effort that goes into getting it. The things that come easy are usually of little value. It's what we put into it that determines the quality of the results ... and remember, the happiest people are not those who always get their way, but rather those who make the most of what they've been handed.