Spirituality

Can You Be More Spiritual But Also Have a Real Life?

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Spirituality and Real Life are not mutually exclusive. You can intertwine the two to enrich your day-to-day life, and expand your consciousness.

I talked about mindfully following the breath in this post. The breath is the foundation. When life gets in the way – and it will – just come back to the breath. Maybe you’re wondering though, “how can breathing make me more spiritual?”

We are spiritual beings. We carry within the spark of Divine Creativity. But we also gotta pay the bills and get to work on time.

This division between so-called real life and spiritual life is a harsh one. Endless memes and jokes are made about those who follow a spiritual path. Usually making the spiritual person look flaky, or crazy. I might say that this is by design, but that’s for another blog post.

However, you’re here, so I’m going to guess you’re looking for some insight into things you’ve been experiencing.

You’re not crazy.

That’s right. The world is going through some serious shit right now, and it looks like it just might tear itself apart. I might say that this too, is by design. That is also for another blog post.

Right now, you just want some tools to help you navigate between the outer world’s needs and distractions, and the inner world’s messages and insights. Because I’ll bet that inner world is getting a whole lot more insistent. That’s why you’re here. Maybe you’ve seen and heard things all your life, maybe this is just the beginning for you.

Have you read some of those memes and blog posts and wondered if you were that flaky? You don’t feel like you’re any of those negative stereotypes. You manage your real life – bills, kids, school, job, but you see, or sense, or know, things at the most random times.

You dream, and then it comes true. You can tell when someone’s lying. You feel everyone else’s emotions exquisitely. You wish you had better control, or you wish you could turn it off. When you read about how people ‘manifest’ this, or ‘intuit’ that, do you wonder, how? Do you think they’re special? Do you think they have some uber-cool gift, and that sort of power is beyond you?

That is bullshit.

You are a Divine Spark. You carry part of Spirit within you, and you are a powerful, creative spiritual being.

I get it. It’s hard to keep that in mind when you have a bajillion other distractions. That ‘real life’ means you need to put food on the table, and a roof over your head, and get the kids to school on time. Instagram, selfies, that all-important status update.

But, I’m guessing, if you’re reading this, that you are looking for something.

So, I’m going to tell you a secret.

You will never, ever find it Out There. It is within you. It always has been. You just don’t want to believe it, because you find it so hard to believe in yourself. Because you’ve been told over and over and over again that you are worthless, that you are nothing, that you are just a sack of meat on a speck of dust spinning through an uncaring Universe.

That too, is bullshit.

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Don’t take my word for it. Discover it for yourself. There’s the path, but you have to walk it. The bad news, there ain’t no shortcuts. Anyone who says different is likely trying to sell you something.

The good news. You are in control. You decide how far, how fast, and how much. Start slow. Walk away if you need to, and come back when you’re ready. I’m not the first to say this, but this is true:

It doesn’t matter if you trip and fall, it matters that you get back up.

How do I know? I’ve been that person. I have walked away from practicing. I’ve been forced away by life events, I’ve been too tired, too depressed, too lazy, too into Game of Thrones to want to go sit, and breathe, and meditate. I felt pretty guilty about it too, and not very spiritual.

Until I figured out, I do not have to spend 60 minutes morning and evening in silent, cross-legged contemplation. I mean, that’s nice, but really? Do you have time for that? Hell no. Grab that time when you can, and make it work for you. Do not wait for some magic, spa-like moment to grab your Zen and get spiritual.

You Are Spirit. You just need to look inward and find that spark. Practice in the in-between spaces and times, when you have just a few seconds to take a mindful breath or two. Why? Because Spirit is timeless, and Spirit is always listening. Spirit does not care if you only connect for a breath or two; only that you connect.

 

Spirituality

Meditation Now!

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We get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that it’s easy to let spirituality slip to the side, if you even consider it for half a moment. Most people say they don’t have time to exercise, let alone the luxury of contemplating their own consciousness and place in the Universe.

Think you don’t have time to meditate? Think that spirituality is only something done on Sunday? Think again. You are a Divine Being in your own right. You carry within you a spark of Divine Creativity. You need to own that shit.

You can talk to Spirit at any time, in any place. The trick is, can you hear the answer? You can, I promise you. All it takes is a true desire and a willingness to open your heart to the answer. Want to know the best part? Spirit is infinitely patient. You do this work at your pace.

Obviously, the more diligently you work at any spiritual practice, the swifter and more dramatic your result will be. But – this is your journey. Take whatever time you need.

First, Naming. I use Spirit and Divine – I like the way they feel, and the positive emotions that come with them. You use whatever personal Name that you are comfortable with.

Next, Practice. To establish a personal connection to Spirit is not difficult. It only takes seconds, but it does take practice. No one ever got good at anything after one or two tries. So, practice, practice often. You’ll find it has all sorts of unexpected benefits – lowering blood pressure and stress hormones to name just two physical benefits. The spiritual payoff is immeasurable, and the joy of discovering those rewards is kinda the point.

Places to practice. Any place and time you have a few moments where you can pause, and take a few deep breaths. Closing your eyes, and twisting your legs into a lotus are not required. Need some ideas?

  • Doing the dishes.
  • Waiting to pick the kids up from school.
  • Waiting in line – anywhere.
  • In the shower.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Sitting at a red light.

Get creative. Let yourself play. Feel a little silly. Let all those negative thoughts, like “This can’t work!” wash through you. Don’t try and suppress them, just let them pass and keep practicing. You’ll find after time, your ego realizes it’s not silly, and stops sending them.

Does Spirit listen? All the time. Does Spirit answer? Yes. Practicing is how you learn to be able to hear that reply.

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All You Gotta Do Is Breathe

So, what’s the first step? Easy, just breathe. Do it now.

  • In
  • Out

How’d that feel? Was it fast, or slow? Where did the breath go in your body? Your upper chest? Your belly? Could you have taken in more air? Did it feel like a sip or a gulp?

Meditative practice starts with following the breath because it is a direct linkage to your subconscious brain. Unless you turn your attention to it, your autonomic nervous system works diligently night and day, pumping your blood, digesting your food, and working your lungs. By following your breath and consciously regulating it, you are sending signals back to the brain that are then passed on to the rest of the body.

And this is important because?

The autonomic nervous system controls ‘fight or flight’. It interprets everything you see and hear based on whether it’s a threat, or not, and then yells, “Battle Time!” or “Run Away!” causing your heart and lungs to work harder and faster, plus a whole bunch of other biologic reactions. Millions of years of evolution have made it a highly efficient survival system. It is not however, adapted for our modern world. The noises and stresses of normal urban life cause us to live in a state of near-constant readiness for battle or escape. The effects of this are clearly reflected in the near-epidemic levels of diseases such as high blood pressure.

Control the breath, and the message you’re sending to your brain is “We’re chill. No saber tooth tiger is about it eat us.” Your brain then tells your heart, organs and muscles to kick back and enjoy some downtime.

The more often you do this, the better it is for your body, and this has been supported through research.

How to Breathe.

It is literally our first action on the planet. You probably think you’re pretty good at it, since you’ve been breathing all your life. Think back to that In and Out breath earlier. Now, you’re going to do it again. This time, though, you’re going to do it mindfully.

  • Close your eyes.
  • Empty your lungs by pulling your belly towards your spine and letting it push the air out. Don’t force it, just exert a gentle pull.
  • Pause, count to three.
  • Inhale by pushing your belly outward. Imagine the air rushing down and filling your belly as it pushes out. Only after your belly is full, allow the air to fill the upper part of your chest.
  • I like to do a slow count of eight – count to four and fill the belly, count to eight and fill the chest.
  • Then, hold the breath. Feel it circulate through your body. Visualize it as swirls of energy, or streaming through the blood. Watch it flow and fill you.
  • Release the breath. Again, pull your belly toward your spine, and exhale slowly, with control. Empty your lungs completely.
  • Hold briefly with your lungs empty. Pay attention to how your body feels without the breath in it. Visualize the breath leaving your body. You might want to imagine it taking away things like stress, or pain, or worry.
  • Then repeat the cycle.

I like to use a count of eight for each portion of the cycle:

  • The Inhale
  • Hold
  • The Exhale
  • Hold

But use whatever count works best for you at that moment. If you’re sitting at a red light, maybe it’ll be a three-count for two breath cycles. If you’re in the shower, try an eight-count for ten cycles.

What matters is that you do it. A lot. In the bathroom for a few minutes? Seriously. Brushing your teeth? Waiting to order your chai latte or caramel macchiato? Take some breaths.

Here’s the catch. Come on! You knew there’d be one.

For each breath, think only about the breath. Nothing else. Focus entirely on that air moving in, through, and out of your body. Any thought that pops up, just let go of. And they will pop up.

  • “What should I make for dinner?”
  • “What did he mean by that text?”
  • “Should I binge Stranger Things or Oroville?”

Just let them go, and bring your focus back to your breath.

And practice. Did I mention how important it is to practice this? Do it when it feels weird, or clunky, or awkward. No one is looking at you funny. Just do it. You will get past that clunky, awkward stage.

Practice until it becomes second nature for you to mindfully breathe multiple times a day. Even if it’s just for one breath.

Pay attention to how you feel before, and after. Are your shoulders a little looser? Your belly less tense? What physical changes do you notice, but also, what mental changes do you notice? What effects do you notice the longer you practice?

Mindfulness, attention to breath, and attention to your responses will help you learn focus and concentration on your inner workings and energetic shifts. Messages from Spirit can come through loud and clear, like a bullhorn. More often though, they’re subtle. Learning to discern what is “you” from what is Spirit will be that much easier if you are already familiar with the ebbs and flows of your own energetic systems.