Spiritual Growth: the Spiritual Challenge of Modern Times
To grow spiritually in a world defined by power, money, and influence is a Herculean task. Modern conveniences such as electronic equipments, gadgets, and tools as well as entertainment through television, magazines, and the web have predisposed us to confine our attention mostly to physical needs and wants. As a result, our concepts of self-worth and self-meaning are muddled. How can we strike a balance between the material and spiritual aspects of our lives?
To grow spiritually is to look inward.
Introspection goes beyond recalling the things that happened in a day, week, or month. You need to look closely and reflect on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. Periodically examining your experiences, the decisions you make, the relationships you have, and the things you engage in provide useful insights on your life goals, on the good traits you must sustain and the bad traits you have to discard. Moreover, it gives you clues on how to act, react, and conduct yourself in the midst of any situation. Like any skill, introspection can be learned; all it takes is the courage and willingness to seek the truths that lie within you. Here are some pointers when you introspect: be objective, be forgiving of yourself, and focus on your areas for improvement. It is Meditation for Beginners or How to Relieve Stress, Anxiety and Depression and Return to a State of Inner Peace and Happiness
To grow spiritually is to develop your potentials.
Religion and science have differing views on matters of the human spirit. Religion views people as spiritual beings temporarily living on Earth, while science views the spirit as just one dimension of an individual. Mastery of the self is a recurring theme in both Christian (Western) and Islamic (Eastern) teachings. The needs of the body are recognized but placed under the needs of the spirit. Beliefs, values, morality, rules, experiences, and good works provide the blueprint to ensure the growth of the spiritual being. In Psychology, realizing one’s full potential is to self-actualize. Maslow identified several human needs: physiological, security, belongingness, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization, and self-transcendence. James earlier categorized these needs into three: material, emotional, and spiritual. When you have satisfied the basic physiological and emotional needs, spiritual or existential needs come next. Achieving each need leads to the total development of the individual. Perhaps the difference between these two religions and psychology is the end of self-development: Christianity and Islam see that self-development is a means toward serving God, while psychology view that self-development is an end by itself.
To grow spiritually is to search for meaning.
Religions that believe in the existence of God such as Christianism, Judaism, and Islam suppose that the purpose of the human life is to serve the Creator of all things. Several theories in psychology propose that we ultimately give meaning to our lives. Whether we believe that life’s meaning is pre-determined or self-directed, to grow in spirit is to realize that we do not merely exist. We do not know the meaning of our lives at birth; but we gain knowledge and wisdom from our interactions with people and from our actions and reactions to the situations we are in. As we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs and values that we reject and affirm. Our lives have purpose. This purpose puts all our physical, emotional, and intellectual potentials into use; sustains us during trying times; and gives us something to look forward to—a goal to achieve, a destination to reach. A person without purpose or meaning is like a drifting ship at sea.
To grow spiritually is to recognize interconnections.
Religions stress the concept of our relatedness to all creation, live and inanimate. Thus we call other people “brothers and sisters” even if there are no direct blood relations. Moreover, deity-centered religions such as Christianity and Islam speak of the relationship between humans and a higher being. On the other hand, science expounds on our link to other living things through the evolution theory. This relatedness is clearly seen in the concept of ecology, the interaction between living and non-living things. In psychology, connectedness is a characteristic of self-transcendence, the highest human need according to Maslow. Recognizing your connection to all things makes you more humble and respectful of people, animals, plants, and things in nature. It makes you appreciate everything around you. It moves you to go beyond your comfort zone and reach out to other people, and become stewards of all other things around you. With that being said, let me show you a meditative Way to turn your life in something amazing you couldn´t imagine.
Empty Your Mind
When you think, hear, speak, cry out, engage in something physical or stressful the waves are produced. With meditation everything stops. Your brain may be totally still, unmoving. It’s really possible. When the surface of the brain quiets and becomes still we begin to see and feel what is underneath. We wouldn’t know there’s anything much underneath our consciousness except what we may see from the surface. Use Chakra Suite Music for Meditation, Healing and Inner Peace
The basic truth about meditation is simple that you could learn it in just five minutes and you can readily engage in it anytime and anywhere. Yet you should constantly engage in it to improve on it. Likewise, it could also be developed into a habit wherein it becomes natural or second nature to a person to engage in it. The more one practices meditation the higher the level of meditation one can achieve.
Empty Mind Meditation is a meditation technique in which the mind is gradually emptied of all thoughts which interfere in the process of meditation. Buddhists call this method Vipassana or Anapanasati. They devote themselves to years, sometimes an entire lifetime, of dedicated practice to achieve the state where thoughts disappear completely or no longer arise.
In the ancient times, spiritual greats had used the Empty Mind method to attain enlightenment. The reason why “Empty Mind Meditation” is commonly used lies in the fact that the ultimate purpose of meditation is to attune oneself to the universal will by emptying oneself of the “ego” or the self. The mind is a powerful tool which sometimes hinders us from achieving the inner peace which we all seek.
Empty Mind Meditation helps them find some relaxation from the highly demanding and hectic lifestyle in which most modern people find themselves.
The mere practice of emptying the mind enables a person to free the mind from the anxious thoughts which clutter the mind throughout the day. By achieving a relaxed state, one can de-stress the body and consequently achieve healing of some ailing body parts. The constant practice of Empty Mind Meditation is beneficial to the holistic development of oneself.
The five areas of life improved by the regular practice of Empty mind meditation are: the Physiological Aspect, the Social Aspect which involves the way we relate with other people, the Intellectual Aspect, Emotional and, the Spiritual aspect.
The Stages Of Empty Mind Meditation
An empty mind is a mind that is free from selfish thoughts. It is the primary goal of meditation to attune oneself to the universal mind by freeing the mind from any selfish thoughts.
This is a simple process that most people find difficult to achieve.
This is because as human beings, we tend to cling to what we have learned, striven for, and have achieved.
This is exactly the opposite of letting go of all thoughts. In meditation, we will learn how to let go of these clingy thoughts.
There are numerous procedures or ways to achieve and complete a meditation.
The most experienced meditation practitioner uses the simplest step-by-step procedure which is shown here:
Be seated comfortably
The first thing that a practitioner should do is to find a suitable place to meditate.
Sitting is basically the most widely used position in meditation. Even Buddha himself, in most figurines and pictures, is commonly depicted seated in a cross-legged manner. You can sit on a chair, at floor, or in your bed. You can sit anywhere but what is important that you are seated comfortably with your back straightened so that your back muscles will not readily strain.
Likewise, you can use a pillow for back support and for comfort. There are several traditional sitting positions that are widely used by meditation practitioners such as the Burmese position, the Quarter Lotus, the Half Lotus, and the Full Lotus positions. These positions are popular because they can be used for long-duration meditation. When conducting lengthy meditation, it is extremely important to be in a quiet place to avoid any kind of distraction.
Relaxing The Body
The next step in the meditation process is the closing of one’s eyes and the relaxing of the body by tensing, stretching, or curling one part of body repeatedly until you feel relaxed.
While you are seated, push your hips forward, and then push your stomach out while tensing up all your stomach muscles for a couple of times and relaxing between to relieve the tension.
Tuck your stomach in until the muscles of your lower back and buttocks are tensed enough, and then arch both your shoulders and push your chest in, tensing all your upper back muscles repeatedly. Then, slacken your muscles in between exercises. And then, reversing the exercise by pulling your shoulders back and pushing your chest out, tensing all your muscles and then slackening the tension.
This exercise relieves the upper body of stress and tension. Repeat this process until you are feeling relaxed. Then, you can start arching your neck forward and placing your chin on your chest, tensing neck and jaw muscles, then momentarily relaxing to reverse the action by pushing your head all the way back while raising your chin up high, and tensing your throat and jaw muscles. Move your head back while looking up; then, open your mouth wide and screw your face up face, tensing your facial and other muscles in your head, and tensing and relaxing.
Likewise smile widely as possible, while screwing up your face and tensing all facial muscles. Frown deeply while screwing up your face; then tense all your facial muscles. This exercise relieves our muscles and joints of the stress and tensions that accumulate every day.
The third step in the meditation process is to be aware of your breathing. Breathe deeply but silently. Use your abdomen while breathing. Feel your abdomen expands and contracts while you inhale and exhale. Inhale through your nostrils and exhale through the mouth. Moderate your breathing and give it a regular pacing until you reach a point of almost non-breathing. This will further relax the body and mind and set your being in a meditative mood.
Clearing Your Mind
As you find yourself with the correct, relaxed breathing, observe the thoughts passing through your mind. Don’t interfere with these thoughts; just observe them and you will notice some gaps between two thoughts. Gently focus on the gap where there is no thought. Try to expand this thoughtless gap. Let it last longer until there is no thought anymore. This is the traditional method used by Gautama Buddha in achieving enlightenment. Another empty mind meditation procedure is by emptying the mind of any thought by thinking nothing and doing nothing. Normally thoughts suddenly come out of nowhere; just ignore them. Revert back to thinking of nothing. Just close your eyes and observe the blackness or whiteness regardless of any thoughts which may crop.
Growth is a process thus to grow in spirit is a day-to-day encounter. We win some, we lose some, but the important thing is that we learn, and from this knowledge, further spiritual growth is made possible.