A Simple & Powerful Way of Enhancing Mindful Living

What are we always doing naturally that is immediately and continually available as a focal point of grounding and expansion of consciousness, providing the link between form and formlessness, doing and being, physical life and beyond death? …… it is our breath.

Conscious breathing is the vehicle for various therapies, relaxation techniques, basic and advanced meditations which are about shifting the mind to a higher awareness and spiritual awakening. Conscious breathing is also key part of the benefits and authentic practice of yogic techniques, xigong and taiji which are about unifying awareness of body, mind and spirit beyond the separate ego-self.

Breathing is something that happens by itself, so it can be witnessed like consciousness, so in meditation it is not something you do but witness with awareness. This is perfect for putting the receptive mind in an open, present and alert state.

These techniques involve directing the breath in ways that engage inner alertness, a relaxed yet focused mind synchronising breath, movement and attention producing a sense of mind, body and spirit alignment and wellbeing. In qigong and taiji for example we can practice performing actions that are practical while maintaining a mindful presence of body-consciousness and the environment around us. In other words, they can enhance the effects of conscious breathing in stilling the activity of the mind while maintaining wakeful alertness of mindful body movement that is synchronised with the breath. This type of mindful practice trains and teaches us how to apply this same balance of doing and non-doing with a spacious awareness while dealing with daily tasks, observing our thoughts and feelings as they arise and thus help develop identification with consciousness instead of the content of consciousness. We can learn to utilise breath and mindfulness to maintain a sense of balance, a sense of stability and focus while being present with real arising thoughts and feeling responses to situations without getting taking away by them.

With this awareness we can become more empowered to deal with stress and emotional reactions, habitual negative or non-productive thinking, behavioural habits and compulsions, by being able to experience them without them becoming our whole sense of self in the moment. Without processing them, just by embracing them deeply with the light of consciousness and presence, keeping our energy moving with conscious breathing, these same thoughts and feelings can transform from habitual and predictable reactions to new and creative ground.

The space between our thoughts and feelings is what reveals the consciousness that is projecting them. Maintaining a state of presence and awareness of this background of consciousness gives us a greater ability to respond and experience all aspects of ourselves and our life with equanimity and perspective. The breath can be used as an intermediary focus between the content of mind and the consciousness from which it arises. Learning to engage with more quality and frequency of consciousness of consciousness can then become the grounding point for spiritual awakening and experience.

Mindful awareness enables us to experience spaciousness of mind and heart where thoughts, feelings and situations come and go in a medium of consistent stability and relaxed openness. Conscious breathing gives us an immediate tool that helps ground our present moment awareness within and without in a balanced way. At the same time boundaries can dissolve so we feel unified with reality in and around us. Good practice of Qigoing and taiji or yoga combines relaxed body movement or postures with conscious breathing to further ground this mindful awareness into our inner experience of the physical body and the circulation of breath and subtle energies to create a more tangible subjective experience associated with this state of being.

However, you don’t have to practice these disciplines for years or become an expert to start getting great benefits. Taking brief times to be still and breath even a dozen times at the start and end of the day, while mindfully breathing 2-3 times during daily activities can provide progressive benefits with a little persistence. This involves being aware of the body form head to toe, and being fully present during each second of inhale and exhale, noticing any natural holds or pauses, areas of relaxation and tension in breath and body. Just taking brief times to do this, observe and be aware with a relaxed mind as it happens will bring its own results.

Many of us have characteristic breath patterns which reflect how we deal with stress as does the stress patterns evident in our posture and body tissue tension and sensitivity. Noticing pauses or momentary holds in the breath along with the quality of inhale and exhale will gradually open the breath naturally to a more rhythmical and deep cycle and calm the mind to wakeful alertness. Conscious breathing, sustained or regularly practiced as a momentary technique will naturally still the mind and energise the body promoting alert mindful awareness. These two conditions, a calm still mind and relaxed alertness or focus, are preparation for realisation of the nature of consciousness and therefore spiritual awareness.

The experience of inner body awareness using postures and controlled movement synchronised with breathing helps to ground us from ‘spacing out’ in such states, ensure we are practicing a balanced alertness of non-thinking consciousness. In this consciousness, awareness of breath, inner body experience and surroundings can then be all observed in equanimity. When the observer or the consciousness of the experience embraces the experience unconditionally in the moment, it is not defined or contained by it.

One of the first techniques of basic yogic breath is a three phase breath expanding the abdomen, then the chest or thoracic region, followed by the top of the chest or clavicular area with the inhale, noticing any pause before allowing each region in the same order to relax with the exhale. Try practicing this in your conscious breathing.

With practice as you feel more fully present in yourself after some conscious breathing you can also invite joy, love or peace fully into mind and body. These, along with illumination, compassion, goodness and beauty are natural qualities that can be tapped into in such calm, open and unified states. How simple and valuable then, can the breath be, in taking charge of developing more deep and authentic personal experience of these often sought after states.

Making a daily practice of conscious breathing enables us to employ such practice effectively before, during or after times we feel imbalanced, forgetful or reactive. in order to regain a centred and deep sense of being that was always there and never truly lost. Just notice what happens, not only to yourself but often to those around you, when you break a pattern of stress or reaction that would otherwise have run its course. Notice the change and then stay with the breath rather than creating a commentary of the gained insight and shift, thereby remaining present in your ongoing ‘nowness’.

When you are in mindful stillness, you are tapped into who you are as the source of thought and experience and not defined by them. Thus your awareness resonates more closely with the authentic self untainted by any one mood or situational context, closer to the formless and eternal self which can also be termed spirit.

May you continue in serene and energised conscious breathing.

Photo on Visualhunt with quote added

Finding and Enjoying the True Treasure of Life

In the modern era, there is so much commercial noise globally around obtaining things, worldly wealth, and success— on our phones, computers, iPads, and tablets, as well as on TV and wherever we go on the city streets, on public transportation, in shopping malls, in the magazines we read. In our twenty-first century comfort many of us do not feel the need for a ‘Kingdom of heaven’ or a ‘spiritual life’ at all, whether we are enjoying our worldly struggles and challenges or not.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it.

(Matthew 13:44–46)

Relative to the noise, complexities and distractions of our lives today, one could be forgiven for thinking the kingdom of heaven is even more deeply buried than ever. The ‘treasure’ or ‘pearl’ in the teachings above are not contradictory to worldly success and wealth, but the obsession or even the identification with material world things is close to the root of missing the riches of realization of true self and reality. The cultivation of desire and attachment to the material, the mindset of “things” as an end in themselves, is a threat or obstacle to “being” in the what Jesus referred to as the kingdom.

Jesus testifies that the treasure of the kingdom of heaven is something to be discovered and found—hidden within us and not blaring at us like so many worldly acquirements. Our will, intention and co-operation is required to find the true treasure within us and present all around us. There is divine purpose in this requirement for us as co-creators of our own destiny and participation in life and consciousness.

This parable describes how, for the person who seeks and does discover, recognize and stake a claim, this treasure or pearl can be acquired securely. First, we must keep it treasured within where it was found. Second, by making it the primary purpose and importance of our life, identity, and inner focus, we must devote all of ourselves and all we have to the alignment and sustenance of this inner connection and co-existence in the divine. This is done with the awareness of what is the cause and what is the effect in our existence and experience of life. Only in this way can we truly embrace the whole spectrum of material, mental and spiritual life. ‘Selling’ all we have or are, and buying the field, is taking ownership of our life and of the treasure within, devoting every part of our nature and life (the field) to the treasure within it. This is like the principle of loving God or the divine nature of all, with all our heart and mind.

The merchant is like the spiritual aspirant who has a realization or revelation within himself, that he or she has recognized the precious or authentic divine truth being sought. Once he has this recognition, the merchant or aspirant wisely acts and devotes all he is to aligning with that pearl of truth and nurturing its growth and fulfillment in his life. This taking of ownership through focus and action will lead to the bearing of spiritual fruits in one’s character and in one’s life. When these are in abundance, so to can all aspects of the life that is true for us be in abundance.

When it comes down to an authentic and undivided mind and sense of self, we need to have a strong and certain sense of identification with our true self. What is that true self? It is not our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and points of view. It is not who we present to the world or who we think we are. It is the consciousness and spaciousness that is experiencing all of that.

To get beyond our own projections of what we think ‘that’ is or who we ‘think’ we are, we must practice letting go of the things we are not and observe them. Mental activity and the things of life never stop, so gaining deeper perspective can come from consciously observing them, including our narratives and perceptions of them. When there is enough space consciously and a strong enough sense of ‘being-ness’ that we can become familiar with, that state of being enables us to experience the phenomena of our inner world and its activity as it is arising. We we can observe mindfully in each moment our thoughts and feelings, our complete subjective experience of being in the moment, then start to separate the things we are not from what we are. We can sharpen our distinctions of what is our own inner activity – projections, responses, reactions and perceptions of the outer world.

Until we invest our identification completely in the observer or ‘experiencer’ rather than the content or experience, we will still get drawn into identifying with the good and bad, the ups and downs of our divided and conditioned self and be led away from true ‘beingness’ by those same thoughts and feelings by our attachment or aversion to and from them. Identification with the content of our life results in a divided mind suffering inner conflict and insecurity deep within from attachment and identification with a small and separate ego self. This self is based on an investment in survival and protection as a separate self. It is the self of attachment to its own reality of manufactured layers of beliefs, responses and reactions to ensure survival and happiness based on fear and uncertainty.

When we invest ourselves in the consciousness that is unchanged and experiencing all of this in the background, a great spaciousness arises, where we can can experience things more as they are. We then have greater awareness and choice about our responses, and by dissolving our identification with our own separate reality about reality, we can experience greater unity in our sense of self and as part of the cause and effect of things as they are. Gaining a rock solid ‘isness’ of things is by virtue of the nature of the life and consciousness from which we experience existence. We are actually more enabled to do respond effectively without anxieties or misplaced intentions. In identifying with the consciousness that is experiencing the individual self, we realize the individual self is an extension of life and consciousness itself which is our greater self. The true self is not a product of the world, it is not self made and the things of real concern are not our normal daily worries. In this realization, we can gain an ever present humility of being unified with a vast and endless whole as an individual while also feeling that same vastness and wholeness is expressing itself through the individual self as a vehicle for each of us all to be here.

The more we base ourselves in our own truth and knowing of this, and allow ourselves to be and live in that subjective experience, the more is revealed about the true nature and unity of life and consciousness. The greatest aspect of this, as confirmed by all great masters of the ages, is the deepening experience and understanding of love and unity, of inherent goodness and beauty. In the acquirement or discovery of this great truth is the gratitude and appreciation of truth and compassion for all of life. Our recognition of some aspect of divinity comes from the knowing of the nature of life and consciousness from direct awareness and choosing, from which comes the knowing of what this essence reveals of the nature of its own substance and function, cause and destiny.

Photo by europeanspaceagency on VisualHunt / CC BY (quote added)

Connecting to the Power of Life in the Present Moment

Mindfulness

Mindfulness, is a buddhist term embraced by western psychology and is now a modernised term for practicing awareness of experience in the present moment or a ‘state of presence’. In the buddhist context it develops self knowledge and wisdom to achieve enlightenment and be free of suffering. In western therapeutic modalities it is used to deal with mental illness, anxiety and stress. The last sixty years it has been researched and recognised as an approach for various effective therapeutic uses, in addition to general wellbeing, performance enhancement and spiritual awakening.

The deeper art of mindfulness is in training the mind to let go of identifying with projections of self. Projections of self may be through identification with outward appearances, circumstances and material things. More primary are inner projections of identification with thoughts, emotions and bodily experience. These ever changing aspects of experiencing the world as individuals can take us on cycles of ups and downs that seem to have a life of their own. Many people’s sense of self and the world, moods and states, perceptions and opinions are reflected in their mental narrative and emotional state as an overall accumulative effect as well as acutely during intense moments. Identifying with them is considered to be the source of suffering by ancient teachings. Training our mind enables us to get beyond our projections of self, deeper into authentic states of inner equilibrium and self realisation, beyond thought and emotion and into the more stable background of consciousness from which mental activity arises.

The inner projections above are the primary ways we really get locked into egocentric identity and loose our ability to be consistently in the drivers seat when it comes to thoughts (most of which are repetitive and predictable yet filter our experiences enormously), emotions (which can really influence our perception independently thoughts and beliefs or collaboratively with them, cause us to be reactive instead of proactive, and forget ourselves when they arise intensely). Body image and inner body experience can also become part of a self-perpetual loop. Emotions, thoughts and bodily experience become illusory when based on our conditioned programming and expectations, we cannot separate them from our sense of who we are. Our personal experience of thoughts and beliefs becomes its own evidence of the reality of those same conditioned beliefs and views thus reinforcing them. The psycho-physical landscape of how we hold ourselves in body and form in the world reveals where we are balanced and life affirming. Alternatively our stress patterns will reflect imbalance, a divided mind identified with positive and negative thoughts and beliefs spliting our identity from our true state of Being.

When we are identifying with these three primary inner projections, they cease to be useful tools for embodying, expressing and sharing our true presence in the world. Instead they become a tool of the ego and in the guise of ‘adaption’, ‘protection’ and ‘self image’ and become the substance of what ‘ego’ does to separate us from a true sense of connection and oneness with life and consciousness. Ego hinders us because it involves identifying with aspects of our life and selves that have no inherent existence of themselves. Ego identification is investing our experience of self in the things and self-created images we give meaning to, rather than identification in the source of where that meaning and purpose truly comes from, our true self as pure consciousness and life.

So how do we best practice ‘mindfulness’ in a way that disengages us from this false identification? Can we be more fully and consistently in a unified state, harmonising mind, body and emotion with our true nature and values? Can we spend more time in qualitative creative and insightful states rather than mundane and habitual ruts of thinking? Is it realistic to be consistently in this space of alignment at the right place at the right time? What further aspects of life experience open up to us when spiritually mature in this way?

Mindfulness is in principle so simple, it can easily be disregarded by ego consciousness. Not only that, it can be very difficult to break old habits and so requires consistent practice, consciously with will and effort until it becomes second nature. Even then, we must be on guard when it comes to egocentric states that take us back into identification with conditioned patterns and suffering. The ego seems to resist being put in its place once we have invested in it for security, success, survival or happiness. In truth, the ego can do nothing of its own because it is our creation, our own projection of ourselves.

Practice and Application of Mindfulness

Essentially, basic mindful meditation is a practice in stillness for what is also required in action to live in a true state of presence. It is being able to subjectively surrender our complete experience in the moment to the consciousness from which it arises. It is allowing ourselves to be still, present and unified in a presence or spaciousness of being. This state is found, and not manufactured, often using breath or another single focus as a way there. We can observe each thought, feeling and data input as it arises or presents itself. Initially, many associated thoughts and feelings are are noticed like a cascade effect of ceaseless mind activity. Things can seem to get busier before they settle if we are not used to this shift.

With practice of stillness, presence and observation, these associated thoughts and feelings diminish until we experience some space between arising thoughts and observed sensations. Eventually we realise they occur in our consciousness, and we are in fact the space of consciousness in which it all occurs. It is not about understanding this intellectually, but being in it fully and subjectively. With that experiential realisation it becomes much easier to get into the zone quickly and more easily maintain it while we go about our day of tasks and communications. Thinking and feeling becomes more balanced, even minded, yet even more rich and far reaching with more choice.

Enormous changes occur once this happens, this shift and new sense of inner freedom and wellbeing continues to provide greater depth, awareness and insight based on personal realisation and experience that goes deeper than our words and mind narratives can conceive. Love, receptivity and connectedness can be enriched on new levels. This space is not vacuous but full of subtlety.

With practice, the most opportune time to apply mindfulness is during highly positively or negatively charged experiences. Mindfulness is not just a neutral or numb state, although can be easier to attain in a neutral state t first. Relaxing mind and body during ‘charged’ times, and embracing each thought and feeling as a projection of who we are, help flex the muscle of consciousness and awareness. These times offer high energy that intensifies and expands our state of presence. When ego identified, we tend to energise projected thoughts, feelings or egocentric needs relevant to the time, loosing ourselves in intense moments, sensations or role playing. With mindfulness we can embrace the same content from a deepening and expanding consciousness with alignment in our true state of being and transform the energy from reactivity into a personal victory of higher consciousness and conscious action.

It is sometimes useful, while witnessing these times of highly positive or negative experiences, to affirm simply and briefly within yourself “I am not my thoughts”, “I am not my feelings”, “I am not my body”. Then simply be, observing what is going on within and without before we speak, decide or act. The content (thoughts, feelings, perceptions) are still there to be experienced even more deeply but without attachment, aversion or the dislocation of identification with them. No matter how bad or how wonderful our thoughts and feelings are as they arise, our true being is an immensely greater field and reality from which they arise. Embracing really strong thoughts and sensations in this conscious state of presence enables greater joy, true insight and reality of being.

Practices like Taiji, qigong, meditation and yoga help us to disengage from identification with our inner projections. Actually doing anything you enjoy with complete attention can be effective for many people in sport, business, or hobbies like working in the garden. The advantages of taiji, qigong or yoga is that they create a space to feel every part of the body and breath consciously and fully while relaxing the nervous system and mind. They are designed and developed over the ages to balance the mind and body energy specifically. Golf, relaxed rowing or gardening for example, can offer similar states but not necessarily cultivate the focus and quality of the conscious state depending on the intention and experience of the doer. Likewise, we see in the orient, zen walking and raking, flower arranging, calligraphy and painting done as a sacred discipline in special settings along with martial art applications like archery or taiji sword. With intentional practice, intent and setting are important combined with controlled and relaxed activities done in a state of still mind, synchronised movement and breath.

Activities that are too sedate or too stimulating to mind, body or both may not be as effective to develop the mindful state. The above are active ways to utilise inner body experience to take one out of the thinking narratives of mind. Yoga teaches one to release resistance, discomfort and disturbance by relaxing and breathing into it with acceptance and allow it to transform without having to process or ‘do’ anything with it. The light of pure awareness or consciousness itself is transformative and unifying. So it is with all things in life. This is why some non-action techniques of sitting meditation or sivasana (corpse pose in yoga) are considered as both the most simple and advanced techniques of practice. What activity incorporating these principles would make an enriching part of your daily practice?

 

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Three Proven Approaches to Spiritual Health and Vitality

Three main branches of yoga defined in the Bhagavad Gita thousands of years ago, before the many diverse styles and branches (and focus on physical asanas) of modern times.  They apply universally to any faith or path as the three main aspects of spiritual practice:

  1. Alignment with divine love and compassion (bhakti yoga, devotion, worship)
  2. Wisdom through knowledge and realisation or direct experience (jnana yoga)
  3. Practical application of mindfulness and values through selfless action and service (karma yoga)

How can we utilise these principles to nurture and practice them in our modern lives?

Bhakti Yoga (The Path of Love and Devotion)

Bhakti Yoga, the way of love or devotion, can be well suited to modern life. Easwaran in his Gita companion book says it is “natural to forget ourselves for those we love.” (p.125). The challenge is to deepen our understanding and experience of love. Love is a term applied to so many deep and superficial things these days, that it is almost too crude or too common a term to apply to a more rarely experienced deep and profound consciousness that is the essence of our spiritual nature. Real love and compassion in the conscious sense, go beyond emotional or mental needs and preferences to become a state of consciousness also transcending self will.

The sanskrit word bhakti means a state of consciousness in which you forget your (ego) self. A common counsel to those practicing bhakti yoga is to practice the art of unconditional love with one relationship (a partner, intimate friend or close family relationship), then extend that love genuinely out to others and ultimately to all life.

A spiritual or religious view helps by providing a sense of a shared source and destiny of life and consciousness as the means of connection and unity with others. A transcendent foundation to reality helps one understand inherent unity beyond the conflict and diversity of the material world. Authentic love and devotion to a divine or universal being (bhakti) must come from a deep personal truth and connection which requires spiritual effort and the ability to get past the conditioning of differences in appearance, gender, culture, religion and ideologies.

If we can regularly connect from within to a presence or field of love in and around us, with no labels attached, then we can better learn to consistently identify with it in place of identification with the little ‘self’ by consistently aligning our actions and state of consciousness in this state, in the present moment, throughout all that we do on a daily basis. This in turn produces the ability to remain in the flow of universal or connected consciousness. In A New Earth, Ekhart Tolle describes in depth, three states that allow this connection and flow: enjoyment, acceptance or enthusiasm. Bhakti is possible anytime by connecting within in the correct state of consciousness that we are capable of at the time and situation.

Therefore, while religious chanting, singing and dancing are traditional and common practices for surrendering into a bhakti reverie, so to can quiet and private worship or meditating, walks and time in nature, as well as quality time and intimacy with friends and loved ones. Intimacy here means communication and connection that is truly an authentic sharing of each other in a selfless way, where we have the safety and understanding to be frank in sharing values or uplifting views and heart felt thoughts with each other. 

Bhakti is not about a purely moralistic universal love or a romanticised emotional ideal. It is a transformative and heart felt experience of a profound connection and oneness of divine love that expands ones view, understanding and compassion for all life. It is spiritually significant where it includes a sense of a greater reality and presence than the material world before us. Thus, relationships gain a deeper meaning when their purpose includes affirming and expressing this universal sense in each other for the benefit of all.

Jnana Yoga (The Path of Wisdom through Realisation and Knowledge)

Jnana Yoga, the path of wisdom or knowledge, is not just about intellect . Easwaran describes it as “direct, experiential knowledge of the unity of life, attained by progressively seeing through the layers of delusion that glue us to the body and mind – something that is simple to talk about but almost impossible to do.” (p.118). (also see the Gita 12:3-4)

Scripture and teachings in spiritual traditions can be a means of obtaining tried and true guidance, especially with guidance from a teacher. For most people in modern times, access to quality information is now huge from many channels, but still requires discrimination of quality. However, jnana is really about the inseparableness of knowledge and experience. Especially when it comes to authentic states of consciousness, our own nature of being (spirit and consciousness) enables us to recognise truth when we experience it. There is a deep capacity of recognition of profound reality and divine truth when we experience it. The deep wisdom of masters is not from dry intellect but hand in hand with love of God: “to know is to love, and to love is to act” (Easwaran, p.119, also see the Gita 18:54-56).

Karma Yoga (The Path of Spirituality through Action and Service)

Karma Yoga is the path of selfless action. It is more than service, which is most important, as service becomes yoga “when we forget ourselves in that work and desire nothing from it ourselves, not even recognition or appreciation.” Therefore, the quality of consciousness in which an act is done, is an integral part of the spiritual value of performing actions and service to others. Many who receive great recognition have done great things for the world, so this distinction is not at their expense. Rather, it highlights the importance of people doing acts in ways that shrink or dissolve egotism and separateness. “The question is what effect this work has on them [the doer]. If it loosens egotism, pride, and the bonds of separateness, it can be called karma yoga, but not if it is making these bonds stronger.” (Easwaran, p.120).

Sri Krishna says true selfless actions alone will help free us from the results of past karma (Gita 4:22-23) which is why this approach of service is called karma yoga. In his autobiography, Gandhi spoke about how difficult it was to tirelessly work for others without getting attached to things turning out his way. Since we can’t control so many factors in life, Sri Krishna affirms it is in our power to act wisely, but wise not to be anxious about the outcomes so we may live and act with an evenness of mind (Gita 2:47,48). Caring about our actions and motivations without getting entangled in our own personal investment of the outcomes is a fine line to walk. Gandhi summarised this famously with: “Do your best, then leave the results to God.” This is the secret to Karma Yoga – using the right means to achieve the right end without attachment to the outcome.

Dhyana yoga or meditation is the foundation of all yogic paths in order to train our minds to get to deeper levels of consciousness. In these busy times of materialistic distraction, such a regular practice becomes all the more valuable. It is our own personal and direct connection to spirit or the divine that really determines the spiritual quality of our life. It can only be found by being fully aligned in the present moment. Krishna in the Gita says:

Meditation is superior to asceticism and the path of knowledge. It is also superior to selfless service. May you obtain the goal of meditation, Arjuna! (Gita 6:46)

Love, wisdom and service exercised throughout life from deep consciousness and connection to the whole, obtained through worship or meditation, is our ultimate purpose in being here and all we do. So, create a little checklist and see how you exercise these three aspects in your life.

Recommended Reading:

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita -; A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiris Press, Tomales, CA, USA, 2011)

God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-Realization Fellowship, USA, 1999, Second Edition)

The Bhagavad Gita, translation & commentary, by Sri Swami Sivananda (The Divine Life Society, India, 2015, Fifteenth Edition)

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle (Penguin, 2008)

Photo by Eddi van W. on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Enhancing Beauty, Truth and Goodness in Our Lives

“The concept of truth might possibly be entertained apart from personality, the concept of beauty may exist without personality, but the concept of divine goodness is understandable only in relation to personality. Only a person can love and be loved.”

The Urantia Book 1:7.3

Life can be received as a bestowed gift. Can we lay claim as humans to be self made, to understand and control the spark of life, the source of consciousness, in this material universe? We are self aware of our existence with a depth of perception, intelligence and understanding. In contemplating and observing this simple yet profound fact, many of us come to a realisation that the nature and source of our consciousness and life, conscious beings in a structured vast soup of molecules called the universe, is of a transcendent and universal nature. This nature includes all attributes of conscious experience that are a result of it – including great love.

Any unifying field of reality will include a primal energy behind the observable inherent patterns and structures as well as chaos and randomness. In addition, with the evidence of intelligent life and our own subjective and noblest truths, such a unifying field can be no less than the giver of life and consciousness. Therefore, attributes of self awareness, purpose and meaning must also arise from a vast and infinite cause that may not be human on a creator and deity level, but neither can it be divorced from or less than the lives that it bestows – our most evolved attributes as individuals and as humanity.

We are each such a small part of a vast and abundant evolving creation. The immensity reflects the infiniteness of the universal source. Yet, the personal and individually unique aspect of each of us also reflects that the infinite scale of creation is matched by personal attention and connection in each living being. So we are each important with a purpose. The personal and rich nature of our life and consciousness can only come from such a vast and immense universal force and infinite being with great love. Thus, the personal spiritual aspect of our relationship with what we may call God, can be fittingly appreciated and cultivated in a way akin to child and heavenly parent, as personified in many world religions.

The realisation and knowing of divine presence and love brings a gradual accumulation of implications and revelations in its wake as we mature and face life. Our capacity to experience the fullness and richness of that spiritual relationship deepens and expands if we consistently draw on it as much as we engage in the life before us with honesty and authenticity. There is a beauty and symmetry in Infinite Being of a transcendent, absolute and perfect nature being able to share a sense of finiteness and imperfection with us as ascendant beings evolving towards the perfection and nature of the infinite on both a personal and vast collective scale.

The Urantia Book (quoted above) also says that God is to science a cause and primal force, to philosophy an idea and hypothesis of unity, and to religion a person, even the loving heavenly father, as a spiritual experience (1:6.2). He is all of these and more. We may see divine beauty in life and the material universe, recognise or feel a sense of truth in our intellect but a knowing sense of goodness is always personal. Whatever names, religion or path we use in our instinctive knowing and gravitation towards spiritual nature, the most relevant and compelling step from faith and sense of recognition of the divine, is realisation of personal connection. It is a loving experience of profound truth, beauty and goodness.

Every aspect and moment of life can be impacted when we begin to take ownership of our own personal spiritual convictions and conscious experience. Realisation cannot be thought out intellectually as much as discovered, when we open ourselves up in faith, drawing from the source of our life and consciousness within our own hearts and minds. This is a shared situation and reality with countless others. While the detail of self and life may define us as individuals, the essence of our values, struggles and higher truths are universal as is the life and consciousness from which it arises.

With a manifested body and material universe around us, a personal subjective illuminating connection within, we can see that although the ‘maker’ remains unseen to our physical perception, a shared connection with our maker is within. We can develop this sense through how we apply it in our lives with each other and compare views and understandings with one another. Despite the extremes and dualities of good and evil that are a legacy of an evolving material world, it is up to each of us individually to align and identify with the affirming substance of what we feel within and between us.

The highest teachings of east and west agree that our greatest enemy is ourselves. Our conditioned mind and our obsession with fickle thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes become a cage of false identity and limited perception. We remain detached from others and life while we are attached single eyed on our inner narratives and conditioned responses to the data our physical senses provide, including chemically induced moods and emotions from our bodies or what we put in them.

Yet when we learn to free our minds, distinguishing between the product of mind activity and the consciousness doing the thinking, we can start to align with existential being – not of our own conditioned manufacture. It is the consciousness under our noses, so to speak, or rather deep within our mind. It is existing consciousness that is there already when we’re not trying to be or do anything. Once we go there repeatedly, we start to bring more order and choice into what we think, how we react and look to a more inner sense of authenticity. Inherent in this and in the absence of need or compulsion for outward verification (through worldly power, security, wealth, recognition, sensuality, etc.) is an inner verification of aligning with truth, beauty, goodness and the values of love and the genuine interest of others. Causeless bliss within becomes more available as we align insight and pure consciousness. It is also revealed more in life and people around us.

In aligning with a source that has given life and consciousness to all, our own separate will and self interest can mature into one of personalising the greater universal will. We can become more authentically ourselves by progressively embodying our own conscious experience of universal presence and its attributes. Intention and application brings realisation. Spiritual realisation leads to a natural reverence for all life, a co-ordinate and co-operative sense of contributing to the progress and interests of everyone. This is the key to engaging in the flow and synchronicity of life, experiencing the universal presence and its qualities in everything as a connected unity.

The challenges of life are there for us to overcome by drawing on the indestructible and dependable reality within us. This reality is for us to realise subjectively, just like discovering a deepening sense of love, as a more real and immediate dimension to ourselves than the changeable and temporary nature of material senses and world around us. The material world becomes an instrument or vehicle of transformation through alignment and application in the divine.

Universal goodness, beauty and truth can genuinely infuse our personality. We can appreciate it more in life and others. We can follow whatever vocations and relationships in life we are drawn to with a baseline sense of meaning and purpose. This meaning and purpose is fulfilled by how consciously we embody spiritual reality and values. When we seek to selflessly apply love and goodness, beauty and strength, conviction and truth to all aspects of our days and lives together, we can find greatness in small things and a dependable inner identity embracing any life challenge.

Recommended Reading: The Urantia Book  (available from various organisation publications and online stores as well as free online downloads).

Photo credit: maf04 via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Connection and Unity in True Love, Beauty & Freedom

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.1(Luke 17:2021)

Jesus [standing by a well] answered. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:1314)

When the words of Jesus are looked at on their own, they mostly present universal truths that resonate and can uplift any religion, philosophy or spiritual practice. Here, the divine is directly acknowledged as an available living experience — albeit through the analogy of water—and not in parables.

Jesus’s key uplifting point in his life and teachings was the kingdom as a subjective reality, just as love is. It is up to us to align and enter, something we can do only within ourselves.

We look for love in other people and relationships, yet we can be overflowing with it from within ourselves. When we tap into the infinite and eternal love of the divine, relationships become more holy, less dependent, and less conditional. Sacred friendships become vehicles to feel the joy, brotherhood or sisterhood of shared authentic divine love that has been there deep inside all along. We can get to actualize and personalize this love and knowing through ourselves and with each other. Just being present, and celebrating that love and “knowing” in the heart, provides the joy of living. It is not about the emotion that is often observable but the quality of truth and the realization experience.

When spirituality becomes grounded in this very point, then ideologies, religious affiliation, personal beliefs, and philosophies cease to become divisions. They become chosen paths to suit, nurture, and develop one’s spiritual personalization, life conditions, and application in life. Even in one religious sect, each unique individual has unique interpretations, perspectives, and insights in their personal ideology. We are collectively experiencing and expressing endless and unique varieties of approaches to a common deified source and center, a shared divine heritage and destiny with other equally unique brethren.

Jesus in his teachings aimed to redefine and bring God directly to each person, and each person directly to God through emphasizing the indwelling Spirit of God in each person. He did this through many simple analogies like the “water” of life here. He gave teachings about loving one’s neighbor, doing good to others, practicing forgiveness, and living in a mindset of serving God within oneself and within others. Most powerfully, he embodied what he taught and lived by example in a masterful way. He trusted God not only with his own life but faithfully relied on the presence of Spirit in others to provide for their own recognition of “divinity” and truth in his teachings thus finding it more clearly in themselves.

Jesus called people to put trust in a directly accessible God within themselves. With that personal sovereignty and ability, each individual has the responsibility to progressively align with the Spirit. The development of goodness, beauty, and truth into one’s thoughts, actions, relationships, and identity are the fruits of this relationship with the divine. Devoting all aspects of love with a whole heart is the meaning of loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

The reward here and now is enjoying a knowing and living relationship in the Spirit, your own sense of direct connection with God. This connection lies deep in the pure consciousness from which we perceive ourselves and life. Connecting here is not only to ourselves but provides an authentic realization of our true connection to all things and everyone. Life’s troubles then have less of a hold. A sense of immortality develops, and you experience a shared recognition and loving kindness with others. Celebration with those of the same realization and conviction of truth enriches life.

Our sense and experience of divine love makes the integration of deeper truths, rising beyond material attachments and gender, nationality, and cultural and religious identity an organic and natural process. It also enriches all relationships in life. Realization of this truth of ‘the kingdom’ makes you less prone to the frailties and conflicts that arise, regularly vitalized in a way that one can never be from dead and statically fixed ideas and beliefs.

On its own, aside from the established religion about him, Jesus’s kingdom remains a positive progressive journey of increasing certainty through the proof and tangibility of lived and shared daily experience.

This is more powerful in its transformation and spiritual enrichment than a hopeful belief and vague notion of a remote and final destination we hopefully arrive at after death. It is a kingdom of daily practical values that shape life choices and actions in terms of qualitative happiness and life enrichment. It is a consciousness with which we face both life and death armed with faith and certainty of our own spiritual identity and personal path.

1 Other translations use “is within you” or “among you” or “within your grasp.”

Like Waves and Drops of the Ocean

Waves and little drops play their timeless dance,

Rolling, bubbling, splashing and spraying,

Rising and falling silently or reaching high to crash and tumble,

From shoreline the steady timeless rumble or quiet lapping.

 

Coming into form then merging and returning to formlessness,

Always an inseparable expression and action of the sea,

Seeming to revel in motion when towering dramatically and suddenly,

Or languidly rising and falling rarely cresting with power dormant.

 

Wave and drop a brief and minuscule extension of vast ocean,

Shaped by the winds of time and chaotic turbulences amidst a familiar flow,

Oblivious to massive tides and planetary forces that also shape their paths,

Of forming and re-forming, again and again merging with the source of their substance.

 

Their own watery substance reflecting the unfathomable depths below,

Every wave and drop expresses unique beauty of infinite form and detail,

Each necessary in the passage of time to the continuity of the whole,

Ripples united in a play of the vast sea and the elements that shape them.

 

Always apart in form yet unified in substance,

Sometimes crashing together, moving indefinitely apart, always moving in pattern,

The waves and little drops know no name or definition,

No views and differences of opinion about their nature, source or destiny.

 

There is no argument or agreement about the depths beneath,

No consensus required on preferences for conditions,

Of wind, sun and rain, for calm stillness or storm,

Each one manifested by the same energies and elements that form them.

 

How grand that we know our own nature,

That knowledge, name and form allow us to evolve ourselves while in form,

Shaping and developing our own world around us as well as our little selves,

Our source and destiny a great ocean of life and consciousness from which we rise and merge.

 

Must knowing the form come with the folly of forgetting the unseen whole,

Treachery of knowledge, power of naming and categorising entrapping the mind,

Consuming identity and nature when defined by separateness and conflict,

The vast inseparable source reduced to division, or rejection or forgotten altogether.

 

It is only in knowing the waves and drops minutely,

Relative to the inseparable interactive elements of ocean, wind, and earth,

Vast whirling planets and space that direct the tide and bring it all to bare,

May true understanding arise embracing both form and formless forces.

 

Yet does knowledge reveal of the beauty of the calm sea and terribleness of the storm,

The humility in feeling the vast power of ocean and earth and their gift of life,

Vital freshness or bite of salty wetness and the glory of riding cresting wave,

Knowing that arises from realms of the heart and in the rich depths of experience.

 

Heart and mind, knowledge and experience, form and formlessness,

Material and consciousness, phenomenal and ethereal, master and servant,

One without the other a blissful ignorance or sorrowful suffering,

While embracing what is, as both and neither is to come nearer to creator.

 

Only in detail are we uniquely personal and evolving understanding,

All else is diversity in unified experience of shared challenges and forces,

Directing the farsighted to oneness of realisation and revelation, eternal being and meaning,

Glorious and miraculous that we are also that, the vast and unified ocean of consciousness.

 

By Colin Chenery

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/bostik/6310836292/”>bostik_</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re2/90ba41″>Visualhunt.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”&gt; CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Your Guide to Meditation and Conscious Wellbeing

 

The Twelve Principles of Meditation

A peaceful and calm mind, along with a peaceful and calm heart brings a sense of wellbeing, relaxed focus, and increasingly produces a feeling of happiness. Brain wave patterns, happy hormone production accompany many benefits to mind and body. With practice, as the sense of thought and body dissolve into an open and spacious fullness and stillness, a spiritual benefit arises as we learn to achieve a state of presence that is found rather than manufactured, that is beyond thoughts, feelings and changing perception. This state of unified consciousness is the real essence and preparation of true yoga practice and meditation which go further with focus.

“The Self is not the individual body or mind, but rather that aspect

deep inside each person that knows the Truth.”

Swami Vishnu-devananda, renowned Hatha and Raja Yoga authority

and Founder of Interntaional Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.

The state is best achieved by attaining steady observation of the mind in equanimity and calmness. With practice the benefits can be felt throughout the day and the meditation becomes the anchor point for continuous practice when in action. This is when we gain more freedom from reactivity, changing moods, stress responses, imbalance and disease. Meditation is showed to significantly reduce catabolic decline that accompanies ageing and assist in mental stability and wellbeing. In observing our inner life along with our outer life, we gain more choices in how to respond, so the doing and the being of living becomes a more conscious, progressive and enjoyable journey. We can feel more present and experience things more serenely and deeply.

The key to enjoying and developing this skill is to practice for the sake of practice. You just do it daily and let the results occur in their own time. Like sleep, meditation cannot be forced but allowed to happen. In the meantime it is a short time spent regularly for yourself that will eventually bare ‘flowers and fruits’ of immeasurable benefit.

It is not essential to still the mind completely as a beginner or even intermediate, so do not let ongoing thoughts discourage you. Sogyal Rinpoche, a renowned authority on Tibetan Buddhism, uses the analogy of letting your consciousness be like an old grandparent sitting calmly watching the children (your thoughts) at play. He also has used the analogy of sitting strong and stable, lower body a base and body still like a mountain, your mind the sky and thoughts clouds that come and go. Let them be and if they distract you, then when you realise it just let them be and come back to your practice.

Developing a calm mind is more likely with technique. Therefore a simple technique that provides a focus, synchronicity of breath focus and an inner object of concentration, is the best place to start.

There are many forms and styles of meditation, most of them eventuating in the same result. Swami Vishnu-devananda (pictured) formulated the following Twelve Principles which provide the key points in most meditation approaches and for beginners to achieve gradual results.

  1. Location – have a dedicated place where you practice regularly to build an atmosphere and place where you will quickly feel the right state with time.
  2. Time – choose a regular time once or twice a day, when you can switch off from daily concerns during your practice. Dawn and dusk are traditionally ideal times or early pre-dawn and last thing at night.
  3. Same time and location each day conditions the mind to slow down more quickly and deeply.
  4. Posture – spine straight and erect but comfortable. Use a meditation cushion for cross legged options can help align the hips and spine, or a firm chair where you can sit upright free of back or arm rests. Feet flat on the floor for chair sitting. Hands are best positioned in cupped the lap or palms up on the thighs where elbows are relaxed, and the shoulders a little back to open the chest slightly. The traditional meditation position is facing North, East or somewhere between.
  5. Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your practice. When thoughts do arise, observe them without attachment and maintaining focus as described in the following points.
  6. Regulate your breathing – start with three to five minutes of deep relaxed breathing, being mindful of each inhale and exhale without any forced holds, and then let it calm down into a natural rhythm. Build up to 30 minutes or more.
  7. Establish a comfortable contained pattern of gentle inhales and exhales of about three seconds each.
  8. Once you establish the breathing pattern, maintain this pattern consciously but also let the mind relax and wander a little as forced concentration will make the mind restless.
  9. Then choose a focal point either in the heart centre (anahata chakra) or between the eyebrows (ajna chakra). You may want to try a session on each until you decide which one is best for you then stick mostly to one location in your practice.
  10. Hold your attention in one of the above chakra (energy centre) points throughout the session while also moderating the breath as above.
  11. Allow meditation to come in glimpses and gradually more sustained periods. It will come when the mind is in a state of a clear non-verbal thought as you do your practice. Other sensations will occur which can be noticed and let go of like any random thought. You will still be aware of your practice without mental narrative or wandering.
  12. After long practice, duality of this from that, of the doer and doing, disappears and samadhi, the superconscious state is attained.

Some people who get agitated with a really active mind can include a mantra, like the sound of OM, to quietly repeat with each exhale and then, after a period of deep relaxed breathing, do silently within. This combined with the breath and point of focus at the anahata or ajna should help occupy the mind so it becomes more single pointedly focused and progressively relaxed. Otherwise the above points should be sufficient to build a good base with time and repeated sessions. There are various techniques to help calm the mind and focus that will be touched on in other articles. However, keep it simple at first and enjoy the journey the above approach will take you on.

Happy meditating!

Authentic Being, Love and Bliss is Closer than You Think!

Much of spiritual experience seems to be about finding a place within ourselves that is less of our own conscious manufacture, and rather a place within ourselves that is there already when we let go. If there is truly a deeper more authentic inner presence and higher Self, then we all have an intrinsic capacity to not only recognise it, but to actually feel more at home there, as it is by definition who we really are.

It is here we must realise the bedrock of deep and abiding peace. This is opposed to fleeting glimpses of insight we may get when identifying with transient moods and mindsets that are geared around adjusting and surviving or thriving transient outer conditions. It is from this deeper sense of self we can discover our own love and a universal unconditional love as one and the same.

Personal spiritual experience at its beginnings, during its progress and maturing must include regular times of relaxing the mind and body completely. Our intent and personal insight are key, as are teachers or sources of inspiration, along with learning to put what is important to us into action. Yet the quiet private moments is where we can learn to rely on the full experience of what remains when everything to do with the body and thinking mind have fallen away.

This is getting beyond thinking and conditioned self identity to experience the substance of simply being, connecting with what many teachers and masters of all traditions refer to as the higher Self, spirit or changeless self which where our true sense of completeness and connection lies. It is so close, we can miss it, for it is within the consciousness with which we think and do. The trouble is we focus on our projections of consciousness and identify with them.

If we strip back the teachings of Jesus to the essentials and modern language, he taught the only way to spiritual consciousness and God-consciousness is to be in constant contact and identification with it through faith and authentic receptivity while living from good-will to all. Many teachings provide hints on developing this through prayer and meditation or communion, as well as applying this developing awareness to value-based thinking and living.

This approach is a universal approach, at the heart of all spiritual practices. It is independent of what we do in the world but not independent of how we do things. Naturally, the ideal of constant spiritual consciousness means doing all things, big and small, with a certain quality of mindfulness and soulfulness. It is a lofty ideal that is extremely difficult yet the practice yields great benefits. The path and destination then become one and the same. Love and goodwill in a mindset of service is harmonious to such a great desire, ideal and goal. It takes regular and committed practice while we attend to the tasks of living.

Our existential nature is an inseparable part of the universal source of life and consciousness. This ideal we can imagine and gradually understand more through experience. Personalising it as a cosmic parent, in whatever form we relate to, helps connect our personal human nature with this transcendent yet intimate state of consciousness. It helps open our mind beyond our separate and conditioned thinking to deeper and greater subtleties of love, joy and good-will to all life and creatures. It takes us not only beyond conditioned mind narratives, but beyond the intellect itself to a consciousness that includes intuition, creative and spontaneous realisation and gradually calm bliss and joy.

The Divine as ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ invokes a personal love that is more than dissolving into a void or mindless mindfulness. This personal invocation encouraged by many masters and seers of all religions and persuasions harmonises our human nature with our cosmic nature which is of causeless pure love and pure consciousness. Aligning as a child to a parent creates humility, so we can drop our own narratives of the experience itself. This is necessary so we can be fully present and experience rather than intellectualise. With faith this approach helps us to step from searching to finding and being.

We can feel gratitude for life and awareness in any given moment, rather than the forgetful arrogance by the conditioned mind and manufactured ego that operates as separate self and self-made. The higher self is inseparable from the parent consciousness where child and parent, creator and created are one, just as in meditation the observer, observed and observing all become one.

Finally, the divine as parent connects us to our shared source and destiny as brothers and sisters. Humankind is aligned in spiritual unity which transcends differences of gender, race, culture, socio-economic status and even religious or idealogical affiliation.

Only through experience of our own true nature can we connect with the true nature in others and recognise our natures as one and the same. Nonetheless, integrity to basic morals and refined values are the foundation and framework in which we find fulfilment of quality and personal experience in this connection.

The realisation of being spiritual beings as brethren, not orphaned in a vast empty universe, but each a small yet integral part of a living and conscious evolving universe is at the core of true teachings beyond commentaries, rituals or institutions built around them.

Personal spiritual experience allows us to consciously commune and nourish ongoing personal experience and truth in life and with each other. Applying this in thoughts and actions, privately and with others, we can embody our own spirituality, yet be united at its depths -the spiritual ‘kingdom’.

Only spiritual realisation can truly transcend and harmonise the many persistent and inevitable divisions in the world. Personal spiritual practice is the means to harmonise and realise these ideals. Personal sovereignty lies in the true freedom this provides.

10 Ways To Inspire Spirituality In Daily Life

Three influential aspects to spiritual identity and perspectives are:

  1. your personal big picture of reality and conscious connection to the ongoing nature of life and consciousness, a personal relationship with your sense of the divine may be part of this,
  2. the consistency and quality of mindful awareness and connection to your big picture at any given time, and finally
  3. the values you hold that resonate with your big picture view and how you put them into practice.

We all have our personal struggles. The battles we fight within are usually more crucial than the outcomes of the battles we fight in the world. A spiritual outlook provides an overriding perspctive that allows us to turn all of our challenges into character strengthening and while transcending conditioned ego attachments and aversions.

Personal daily reminders that help us reconnect with our higher Self has enormous benefits over time and with consistent practice. It is daily connecting with some element of mindfulness, connection to nature and a sense of transcendent sacredness that lifts and strengthens our spiritual identity. Taking responsibility for a progressive journey from within means utilising all occurrences for development and goodness consistently, but this takes inner strength and not falling into forgetfulness.

Here are some ways to go about daily life with some reminders and inspiration:

  1. Start and end the day with prayer or stillness …. developing a regular habit of quieting the mind and being still and present has many benefits physically, mentally and emotionally. Spiritually it is beneficial when it is done with a sense of sacred receptivity. Prayer or meditation or just a simple contemplation on reverence for life and existence are great ways to enter inner stillness. It is not about thinking nothing, but about letting go of the thoughts that occur, being present with the breath and the sense of letting everything fall away for a time. Physically it is best done in a comfortable but upright position, relaxing deeply into a wakeful sense of stillness. Try 3 minutes and build up to 20 minutes.
  2. Create your own alter – Enjoy finding some symbols or ornaments that mean something about reverence for life to you, holy or sacred symbols, images of teachers or loved ones. Include a candle or lamp to light during your daily stillness and whenever you feel the need to connect or initiate an atmosphere of sacredness. You can also burn incense or place fresh flowers regularly to offer in compassion for the greater good or to whatever form of sacred connection you identify with. Those who have a personal sense of the divine can cultivate loving devotion to a form or formless sense of the divine. Many religious practices do this, yet anyone can benefit to a dedicated space in their home. Such a focus can really connect the devotee to a deep sense of love, compassion, mercy and wisdom. Keep your alter simple, not too cluttered and know the true alter lies in the heart and deep in the consciousness.
  3. Create a daily active practice – an activity that can be done that is calming and connecting within yourself. Yoga, meditation, a walk, a special place in the garden or by a window to breath and stretch, a walk on the beach, forest or park, or a daily time to read only inspiring words of wisdom. This practice is your commitment to yourself for building a conscious connection within and to spirit. Inwardly you can combine prayer for others and the world, a meditation technique, or something you may already be doing. This is an active way to create a sense of peace and quietude within and around you. If it is done in a similar way most days, then it will develop a more powerful effect on cultivating the state of mind and connection you resonate with within.
  4. Meditate – is a key technique for billions of souls over thousands of years. Create you own private space, find a technique that suits your temperament and is most enjoyable aside from the longer term benefits. There is much information on how to meditate and further blogs on this site will delve more into various approaches for various types of people.
  5. Reminders during the day: Set your phone or watch timer to 3 key moments through the working day to stop for 6-10 breaths and reconnect consciously to your breath, inner stillness and maybe call to mind steps points 1,2 and 3 or a beautiful moment you have had recently.
  6. Use meal time to settle and refocus: Give thanks every time you eat and eat in silence.
  7. A random act of kindness – Set an intention each morning to do something to help or support someone or make their day better in any way. Do not seek recognition or thanks for it. Anonymous givings are great or doing something for a stranger. It can be different on different days and can be simple as consciously offering a smile to people. Privately review each evening what your act or acts of kindness were for the day.
  8. Purpose and meaning in what you do: Review your work and any major interests you spend time on outside work and actually write down the deepest purpose for doing it. It may take a small list of reasons to get there. If your ‘why’ is not something with deeper meaning than earning an income or achieving personal pleasure or something practical then keep writing down ideas on how you can transform your attitude and way of doing this task so it is a practice that develops important values or qualities for you or contributes to others. Consider ways these activities can assist others or add to your quality of life. Every role in society contributes in some way. Review your ‘why’s’ regularly so you reinforce a sense of serving some meaning and purpose in all the key things that you do.
  9. Practice gratitude and compassion. Have a daily time or a weekly time when you list or say quietly out loud at least 12 things you are grateful for. You can use the same ones regularly but try and include at least 2 or 3 new ones every few days. The more detail you give to each item the more powerful. Then consider 6 people or situations you are aware of that represent bad situations of stress or suffering and describing them to yourself until you have enhanced your empathy, understanding and urge to send out supportive and compassionate energy to them. If you only find time to do this weekly, you can still read over it daily near the start or end of each day.
  10. Promoting balance in your life is conducive to harmony and greater spiritual receptivity. This starts with our own states of mind and energy. Overcoming destructive inertia mobilises your energy into productive activity. However, some activities can become part of our stress or self-focus in a limiting way. They can then be transformed into conscious and positive action that brings you into balance and harmony.
    1. Destructive inertia: if there is something your are procrastinating about or have resistance to doing, then write down and commit to a timeline to get into action and move your energy on it.
    2. Transforming activity: obvious examples are an emotional reaction or a compulsive habit that no longer serves you or others. Write down an alternative behaviour that is more positive and supportive. It may be taking a few minutes out to breath, get into a positive space then re-engage with a solution oriented mind when stressed. It could be replacing a compulsive habit with something healthy and enjoyable. Attach a key word you can use to remind yourself and commit to 21 days of using your key word (saying it out loud through the day and having it written and visible in key areas). Then when that reaction or compulsive urge comes up, you can better remember to use that key word and go for the positive behaviour immediately. Remind yourself this is a 21 day commitment to help break that habit and transform your energy to improve overall quality of life and spiritual receptivity.Stocksy_txp8a69df0fGsf100_Small_1188669