When we venture onto the spiritual journey, which really is the inner journey, we can learn so much about ourselves and about life in general. Sometimes our learning is disappointing, as I am often reminded how negative my thinking is. Sometimes the journey is quite delightful, especially when we realize how wonderful and loving we are.
Just taking time every day to do something that draws us into ourselves, like meditation, knitting, crocheting, cooking, baking, gardening, walking or even driving, becomes truly an educational experience. People often times, because of some traumas or some negative experiences, block the inner voice with social media or the ipod or mp3 tunes or the radio or television. I often think that they are missing so much vital information from their inner world. They miss the opportunity to be taught by their inner voice, the core Self, or (if they are a very religious or spiritual person) the Christ, or Buddha, or Holy Spirit within.
Mary, my beloved wife, loves to cook. She loves to cut up vegetables for soups or a stir fry. While Mary is doing that, she listens to her inner voice. Sometimes, as she reports, she just listens to the stream of consciousness that flows through her mind. At other times she is directing her thinking. I know others who do that while knitting and still others who do that while driving. In any case, it is a time for the mind to process important information, feelings, images, hopes, dreams, etc.
Human beings have such a rich inner life.
The introverts among us usually keep that mental information inside until asked to share it. The extroverts spontaneously let anyone willing to listen know what he or she is thinking, imagining or mulling over.
Observing or witnessing this rich inner life and learning from it, so that one can continue to grow and change as needed for even more happiness, is an essential part of the spiritual journey. For instance, after Mary spends time listening to her mind’s musings while preparing supper or dinner, joy often comes to her or concern floods her awareness. She knows more clearly what she believes and she also is aware of what she needs to change in her life or what I need to change in my life.
The same thing happens for all of us. When I sit and reflect on the thoughts that I have or the words that come from my mouth, I learn where the joys and disappointments are in my life. Each awareness comes from part of my consciousness. Each awareness comes from the consciousness of one or more of my energy centers, in Sanskrit called “chakras”.
When I sound negative or critical, I realize now that fear is flowing from my manipura chakra, the energy center that is associated with my identity. Like today, I was driving to vote and saw the parking lot filled almost to its capacity with cars. Lots of people were voting. On the way to the polls, I saw only one political party’s yard signs and my unconscious energetic response was fear. I thought to myself, “Wow, a lot of people are voting contrary to my intended vote.” I identified with my need to have people voting as I wished and came out with a criticizing comment.
I was not looking at things positively because I had identified myself with the values of one of the parties, or the personality of one of the candidates, or the beliefs that were important to me. I found myself filled with animosity because I have not yet opened my heart chakra, the anahata chakra, which, in yoga, is connected to love of others and not self-love.
If I would have had the radio on while driving to the polls or had not taken some quiet time after my voting I would not have learned that about myself.
Now all I have to do is transform my self-talk.
Thank God! yoga and some of the mystical dimensions of the world religions have methods to help that transformation occur.
We all can become, individually and collectively, very intelligent and loving beings, if we begin spiritual practices! Our effort towards that goal of reaching peace within ourselves and with our neighbor is our next cultural task. More on these spiritual practices next week!