There’s something I have to admit. This is me being honest with you and myself. Sometimes I really dislike being around spiritual people.
Don’t get me wrong! I have a few very wise friends and teachers that humble me with their wisdom, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve befriended someone that I thought was likeminded, or joined a facebook group about a practice or teaching that I love, or had someone I’ve known for a long time all of a sudden get into spirituality, only to find that for some reason these things that I’d expected to bring me closer to my fellow "spiritual brothers and sisters" have somehow pushed me farther away from them.
All of a sudden the dialogue starts to flow, the sharing of perception begins to occur, and... the spiritual pissing matches begin.
I think it’s important that we can all take an honest look at what is going on in our new-found culture of free-flowing spiritual information; in our new world of spiritual knowledge, practices, and services at the touch of a button.
In a very real way, we have taken so much knowledge, so many teachings and practices, and effectively thrown them all together in a blender, then been left by ourselves to pick everything back apart and put it into context with our own lives.
Just a couple minutes browsing through the conversation in any kind of Facebook group that has the word "spiritual", "enlightenment" "meditation" (any other spiritual hot button name for that matter) in its name will make it obviously clear that despite all of our unification under the blanket concept of "spirituality" we are hardly on the same page with each other.
In fact with all the information that has been thrown out there, to mix and match, sample here and there, and combine in however way we all decide, there are infinite amounts of different perceptions, opinions, and beliefs of even some of the most basic and simple spiritual concepts.
**And though we would all like to consider things like acceptance, open-mindedness, compassion towards others, and non-judgement to be the cornerstone of our understanding, there is sure a lot of disagreement, and even judgment and arrogance that goes on in our new-found "spiritual" society
One of our greatest flaws amidst all of this is that we have such a human tendency to want to decide that we know; that we’ve got it ALL figured out. Even that we know it so well that we know better than others.
And there is a lot of misinformation, misunderstanding, and ignorance going on that is confusing at best, and genuinely harmful at worst.
Message from Guided Mind: Progress spiritually with our Complete Higher Consciousnes guided meditation album.
At the risk of being arrogant enough to declare that I know... anything at all... I offer 11 practical indicators of genuine spiritual progress, regardless of what your practice, philosophy, or preferred tradition is.
I propose that no matter where we all are on this crazy, confusing, trippy, and intense journey of self-awakening, that we can all find some common (and solid) ground in being practical, human, realistic, and honest with ourselves.
11 Practical Indicatiors of Genuine Spiritual Progress.
1. You’ve stopped caring whether others see you as "spiritual".
It doesn’t matter whether your friends, family, acquaintances, or fellow spiritual facebook group buddies think of you as someone who knows their spiritual stuff or not.
- You no longer need to prove what you know, believe, feel, intuit, or think to anyone.
- You understand that many people out there don’t hold similar views, and you even understand that many of your fellow "spiritual" buddies out there may completely disagree with you, but that’s ok.
- The urge to argue, debate, or convince others of the legitimacy of your awesome knowledge, and your elevated spiritual state is no longer there.
- In fact, you’re not even sure if you care whether you’re a spiritual person at all yourself anymore. You’re just you, whatever that is.
2. Things just don’t bother you like they used to anymore.
What used to really grind your gears just doesn’t anymore. This could show up in dramatic ways, or in subtle ways.
- All of a sudden your annoying coworker isn’t that annoying anymore.
- Things not going your way becomes ok.
- Not having money doesn’t stress you out like it used to.
- Making an ass out of yourself in public doesn’t cause you to lose sleep or replay the situation over and over again in your mind, thinking about what you should have said that would have been better.
It’s all just... ok.
Related article: Why going on a spiritual quest can change your life.
3. You find yourself less stuck in your own head.
There are times when you are just able to be. You are finding that that incessant voice in your head, the one that constantly chatters, overanalyzes, thinks things to death, and revisits the past doesn’t have to grab your attention all the time.
Sometimes you can just be still, and sometimes you begin to see the repetition of the rational mind, and realize it can even be kind of boring. You also see that it’s possible to choose not to identify with it.
4. You’ve stopped trying to be saintly.
After going through a phase of trying really hard to be only positive, good, saintly and uplifting all the time, you have finally accepted that you are human, and have your own fair share of darkness.
- Rather than trying to run away from it, oppose it, resist it, or tell yourself and others that it’s not there, you are now owning it.
- You are letting yourself look at it with curiosity and acceptance, and are learning from it, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.
- Rather than beating yourself up for having negative thoughts, tendencies, reactions, or feelings, you are going into these treasures within to learn the lesson and grow from their exploration.
5. You practice rain or shine.
The motivation for your spiritual practice has matured.
It’s not because you got excited about an end result, or because it makes you feel better about yourself or your life. It’s because that is just what you do; it is your path and you are walking it.
Also, you practice regardless of what is going on or how you feel. You don’t practice more when you are upset because it makes you feel better, and you don’t practice more when you are happy because your bad moods have a tendency to demotivate you or make you cynical about it.
You just practice because that is what you do, because it is now a part of you.
6. You are able to do kind stuff without expecting any recognition or reward, and you are able to NOT do kind stuff if you don’t feel like it.
- When you give your meal to a homeless person, you don’t have to tell anyone about it.
- When you walk your spiritual path, you don’t have to take selfies of it and post it on social media.
- You payed it forward and bought the next person in the coffee shop drive thru line’s cup and didn’t tell a soul.
Also, when you don’t feel like being nice, doing favors, or acting compassionate, you don’t. Obligation or self-image has ceased to be a reason for you to act with kindness. The fact that you are kindness is now your reason for kindness.
Message from Guided Mind: Heal yourself spiritualy - download our spiritual healing guided meditation mp3 now.
7. You really love yourself.
The frail self-confidence that comes from trying to outdo others or prove yourself has gone, and is now replaced with a confidence that stems from humility, and an understanding of others.
Compassion has taught you that everyone goes through hard times, everyone fails and succeeds, and that everyone (for the most part) is doing their best.
You acknowledge that you deserve love, just as everyone does, without it being egotistical or arrogant, and you are learning to accept yourself as you are.
You’re also starting to really enjoy being alone, even for long amounts of time.
8. You know that you don’t know.
You are learning to be comfortable in knowing that you don’t know anything. You can see the flaw in all of your logic, in logic itself.
It becomes more and more apparent that thinking you know something is just a block, an obstacle, and that real wisdom comes from understanding what your limits to understanding are, rather than in convincing yourself that you can know the unknowable.
**You can start to see that holding too strong of an opinion on anything is an obstacle, a delusion.
This is opening the door to the deeper truth that real understanding comes from unlearning, from unknowing instead of accumulating knowledge and beliefs.**
9. You dare to question anything and anyone (including yourself).
The Guru effect has worn off, and you are beginning to realize that you have the capacity to question any teaching, and any teacher.
The truth is within you, and only you can find that truth through your own knowledge, your own experience, and not through taking on others teachings, knowledge, and experience as your own.
At this phase you may question even some of the most prolific and revered teachers, not in a spirit of disrespect, but in a spirit of honesty. You may even question some of your most precious beliefs, traditions, and spiritual practices, only to gain a deeper understanding of them, one that wasn’t possible until you questioned them.
"If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet your father, kill your father. Only live your life as it is, Not bound to anything." ~ Guatama Siddhartha
10. You’ve found that happiness comes from within.
This doesn’t mean you’re always happy no matter what. It means that you know where happiness is inside of you.
Though you may still be learning to break the heavily conditioned belief that happiness comes from seeking external things like objects, status, money, sex, adrenaline, etc, you finally "get" that you find happiness within, by seeking it within. And sometimes you genuinely find it, and it’s awesome!
Now that you’ve gotten the taste for genuine happiness, you will never be satisfied with anything less.
11. You’ve gotten real.
You’ve moved past the glamor of spirituality.
- You are no longer in it to learn cool magical tricks like being psychic, or manifesting material pleasures.
- You don’t care if people respect you or your knowledge, or if you get any kudos at all for the progress you’ve made.
- You don’t do it to prove to yourself that you’re a good person, or a smart person, or a wise person.
- Though you may still be completely in awe at the mystical, you understand that the mystical comes and goes, and that the unknown happenings that occur on the spiritual path are not the end goal, or the indicators of progress.
- You have stopped pursuing Truth for the promise of power, or for the escape from pain.
When it really boils down you can see that your path is very simple. It’s about compassion, love, and genuine fulfillment. It’s about true happiness and peace. It’s about what is True.
And in a very real way, you can also see that it was never really you who chose this path in the first place, it was the path that chose you.
Which path chose you? Please share it in the comments!
Ashton Aiden is a certified life coach, a brainwave entrainment geek, a lover of dogs, and a passionate advocate of the human potential.
He spends most of his time working through his website, brainwavelove.com, to educate the public on the powerful benefits of brainwave entrainment technology.
When not doing this, he enjoys coaching people on the art of manifestation, providing spiritual commentary, and exploring the outdoors in his home state with his dog, Biff, and his girlfriend Dechen. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on facebook.com/brainwavelove