How to Tell if You’re Making Spiritual Progress

spiritual-progress

Twenty years ago I attended a lecture with a famous spiritual teacher from India. A woman in the audience asked him a question. I never forgot the question, or the answer. The question was, “What’s the best way to meditate?” The answer was, “Whatever way makes you love God more.”

 

I was moved by his answer. The truth resonated in the depths of my being. My question was, “How?” I didn’t have the courage to ask at that time, however I did have the sense to continue to pursue this very wise teacher so I could begin to find out.

 

I always thought of myself as a “nice” person. I was kind to others, polite, gracious. I contributed without asking. I was a good girl. But I had the toughest time actually feeling love in my heart. In fact, I rarely did. I had experiences of infatuation, I had feelings of warmth for others, for my little brother, my boyfriend, my friends. And I had dozens of peak spiritual moments that felt like kind of like drug highs, but they never lasted. Neither did the loving feelings for my most intimate relationships.

 

Occasionally I would meet people who seemed so naturally loving and happy, occasionally. Most of the people I knew were outwardly accomplished and inwardly lonely. Who was happy? Who was in their heart?

 

When I pursued my study of the healing arts I thought I must have been getting closer. These psychic people all around me could see right through me. They could look at me and know the kind of parents I had, my history, my pain and wounds. As I hung around them and learned their secret psychic powers, I began to find, they too could not sustain an open heart. In fact, some of them could be so loving one minute and so cold the next, it made me deeply confused.

 

How would I love God more if I didn’t know how to keep my heart open and to love myself?

 

I discovered something that made a difference. I delved into my childhood history. I found that my tendency for my heart to go ‘cold’ was a trait I learned from my mother. Raising 3 children as a single mother in the 60’s, there was little time for play with us kids. My mother’s survival technique was her strong intellect. Love in our household growing up was expressed as recognition for accomplishments. It was hugs, play or family outings.

 

The other crucial factor was spiritual understanding. Knowing the difference between material imperfect love we humans give to on another and spiritual love (Excuse me if I use the “G” word here.) I didn’t know that God lived inside my heart as well as being omnipresent. I didn’t know that the word for God is a synonym for happiness. I didn’t know that spiritual happiness is ever increasing and human/material happiness is always limited.

 

So how to meditate in a way that makes me love God more? It’s a deeply personal question. There are a few universal truths most religions share:

  • Love is omnipresent
  • The soul is eternal
  • Love lives within our heart

 

 

How to know if I’m making spiritual progress:

 

  • Am I becoming more patient, kind, compassionate?
  • Am I longing for more time for meditation, prayer or contemplation?
  • Do I protect and savor my alone time?
  • Am I recognizing that my body is a gift and therefore taking better care of it?
  • Do I have an attitude of gratitude?
  • Am I willing to be self-responsible and claim my mistakes, even when it results in embarrassment or loss?
  • Do I share without an ulterior motive?
  • Is my conscience growing around right and wrong?
  • Am I respectful of other people’s time and resources?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice personal gain for integrity
  • Do I have more self-control over my emotions?
  • Do I feel connected to a universal power that is loving?
  • Do I trust that even when things look negative on the outside, there is a deeper meaning that is perfect?
  • Have I felt lighter and more centered in my heart even during times of material loss or gain?

 

How to increase spiritual progress:

 

  • If you don’t have a spiritual practice or if the practice you have isn’t bringing about some of the results listed above or other positive results, go spiritual shopping
  • Reflect on any peak spiritual moments you may have had in your life, “for example hiking in a beautiful place, communing with a friend, a deep meditation experience.” Remember what it felt like and contemplate / revisit the “feeling” of that experience
  • When physically alone, pay attention to positive, loving non-physical presence of the loving power that governs the universe. Pay special attention to the area of your heart
  • Make a gratitude list
  • Sit alone, naked in front of the mirror and study your body not for imperfections but until you see the magnificence of its creation
  • Give something anonymously to someone who needs it. Don’t tell anyone about it, just notice how it feels
  • Reflect on an unkindness you did to someone and make amends with them
  • Next time you go out to dinner with a friend, be generous
  • Practice “not” having the last word in a disagreement
  • Rather than complaining, seek the positive lesson in any seemingly negative circumstance
  • When someone criticizes you, find the grain of truth or mountain of truth in it and don’t defend your position or image to them

Laura FineLaura L Fine, Lionheart Founder

 

Photo credit: bahaiteachings.org

Lionheart Institute of Transpersonal Energy Healing teaches you how to heal yourself, facilitate healing for others and build a career as an Energy Healing Counselor. Lionheart offers a FREE introductory course each month. To sign up for the next one go to http://lionheartinstitute.com/energy-healing/