There are many ways to grow spiritually. But let me boil it down for you to an important few…
Anything that expands your consciousness or awareness is valuable in growing spiritually. Meditation is one important way because it quiets the mind; it helps you stop the mind chatter so that you can become more conscious of your inner being which is consciousness itself. Prayer is similar if used in a way that expands your peace and serenity. Another path is mindfulness because it helps you become more aware of life as you experience it. (Prayer can also be a form of mindfulness if focused on pure love and gratitude.)
One specific mindfulness technique is called the Stop Technique. You pick out a simple activity that you do all the time – such as taking a drink of coffee (or any other beverage) – and you stop momentarily and then do the action with total attention. You feel the cup as you take hold of it. You feel its texture and weight. You feel the feeling and motion of lifting it up to your lips. You feel the contact of cup and lips as you take a drink. You feel the beverage in your mouth. You marvel how you taste the beverage and feel it as you swallow. You watch yourself as you set the cup back down. Then you remind yourself to be mindful when you take your next drink. And you repeat the stop technique periodically to reinforce your awareness. This technique can be used with any other activity that you do, including interaction with other people.
The other techniques that I want to mention are, in reality, all mindfulness techniques but we don’t usually think of them as such. They involve appreciation of specific emotions and attitudes in the living of life. In particular, I want to mention five: love, gratitude, forgiveness, beauty, and joy. There are many others, and I write about all of them in my Wisdom Thoughts posts on my Facebook page and my RaymondPosch.com blog. The development of mindfulness requires these techniques to be practiced. The more you practice, the more you can expect to grow spiritually.
Love – I frequently recommend opening your heart and choosing to be filled with love. At its core, love is about acceptance and appreciation, and we usually direct it at something – which can be one’s self, another person, the world, the Divine, and even life as we experience it. If we choose, we can shift it from a simple emotion to an expansion of our consciousness or awareness which then empowers us and allows our relationships to the world and to the Divine to grow.
What happens as you learn the power of love is that you steadily accept and appreciate everything in more non-selfish ways, and you begin to grow beyond the ego. You expand in wholeness which is about realizing that you are part of a much greater whole of being. It’s about you and the world around you, not just you. You begin to see this kind of love in others… Mother Theresa, Jesus, and Saint Francis of Assisi were people who developed and demonstrated this kind of love. And the world is full of examples of tyrants and villians who are or were all ego, had little love in their hearts, and lived at the lowest levels of consciousness.
Gratitude – Holding and knowing gratitude for other people and things in your life is a very powerful way to grow spiritually. Being grateful is an aspect of love – it requires that you pay attention to (be mindful of) the objects of gratitude, and to accept and appreciate how those people or things give meaning and contribute to your life. That shifts you away from ego and its inherent selfishness, and allows you to grow in consciousness and in participation in life. Greater consciousness, and especially more conscious engagement in life, are expressions of becoming more whole.
Forgiveness – Forgiving yourself for mistakes that you have made and forgiving others for actions (or non-actions) that have hurt you are necessary in order to grow spiritually. Forgiveness is a kind of letting go. Grasping and holding on, the opposite of letting go, are forms of attachment that reduce your freedom and hold you back from growth. Just as love helps you grow beyond selfishness, so too does forgiveness help you grow beyond your own selfishness. You must learn that your ultimate purpose is to grow into greater and greater wholeness by being mindful of and serving others and the world around you.
Beauty – Appreciation of beauty requires that you be more attentive to (mindful of) the world and everything within it. Nature and much of man’s creations are full of beauty if you will only stop and become more aware of what is there before you. It requires an observational mindfulness and becoming more aware via all of your senses. The more awe that you experience, the more conscious you are becoming.
Joy – Joy and happiness are feelings of great acceptance and appreciation of your existence and of life itself. You must learn to make them unconditional. That requires you to be mindful of yourself, the world around you, and the flow of life, and to be grateful and see their inherent beauty and wonder. Choose unconditionally to experience happiness and joy every day. When you do, you will find that you automatically spread happiness and joy around you. They help the levels of consciousness and wholeness to expand in you and outward from you into the world.
Note that I do not talk about worship as a form or path of spiritual growth. The Universe all lies within Universal Consciousness or God, and God is totally wholistic – everything is within God, and God is within everything. God created human beings to be part of universal consciousness and to allow God to experience physical life through us. God is the Whole. We are part of God, and God does not need us to worship Him/Her, just as we do not need our body cells to worship us. I’m explaining this so you know why worship is not discussed in my writing/teaching. I love God, but I do not worship God since I am already a part of God. But, be clear that I am not objecting to religions and their worship of God, and I understand and honor that you may consider worship to be a form of mindfulness enabling spiritual growth.
I hope these ideas give you new ways of thinking about and experiencing spiritual growth.