Are you for health but don’t have time to eat healthy?
A world-changer but waiting to retire from your corporate Wall Street job before changing the world?
An environmentalist who doesn’t recycle?
Or maybe even someone who is “spiritual, but not religious?”
Which leads us to the question of what the heck is the “spiritual but not religious”?
Multiple choice question. “Spiritual but not religious” means:
A) You’re super religious but don’t want others to know it
B) Non-religious but use this phrase as a way to be politically correct and be socially accepted
C) Kinda religious when it’s Christmas time or someone dies
D) Not religious but spiritual enough to believe that if all this religious crap was for real and you found yourself in hell, you’d use the “spiritual, not religious card” to escape a life in purgatory.
“Is spiritual, not religious” a lame excuse?
It has become socially acceptable to say “spiritual, not religious” when asked what our religious preferences are. It also seems to be the politically correct thing to say.
With “spiritual, but not religious” we get to say that we’re connecting with ourselves, a higher power or God but not in any formal or scripture-based way. And we don’t really have to do ANYTHING to satisfy that label.
How do you end up becoming “spiritual, not religious?”
Did you grow up in a cult and get burnt out?
Did you grow up in a strict religious household where you were constantly warned about going to hell?
Did you grow up in a household where you were told to stay far away from God and march with your comrades when the revolution started?
Did you live a life of faith only to find a God who doesn’t listen to your prayers and continuously disappointed you?
Why get spiritual?
If you’re neither spiritual or religious, fine.
If you’re religious, all the power to you.
But if you’re the “spiritual, not religious crowd” I’m writing this for you. And asking you to get spiritual if in fact you consider yourself a spiritual person.
I’m asking you to get spiritual so —
1) You spend a part of your day focusing on your inner self and being, as you discover who you really are – your essence.
2) You’re able to deal with life’s problems and challenges better with inner strength and wisdom.
3) You realize that spirituality is a part of your personal development practice which allows you to be a better person to yourself and others.
10 Ways To get Spiritual for those without money for church coffers, time to attend religious services or tolerance for doctrines and dogma.
Let’s say you’re hell-bent on staying as far away from any and every religion, prophet, guru and sacred text. Then, try one of these practices for a few minutes a day to get in touch with your inner spirituality.
Stop saying you’re spiritual and get spiritual by:
1) Meditating for a few minutes every day. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing without trying to think about the world around. You’ll become more mindful of your breath and ultimately be able to observe your mind.
2) Attend a yoga class. Yoga may feel like a pure physical exercise. Yoga is actually challenging your body and mind and helping you make the connection between the two.
3) Listen to music which stirs your soul. I would just suggest doing this mindfully so you’re actually listening to the music instead of when you’re on the exercise bike, playing a game of Angry Birds on your iPhone.
4) Attend a gospel concert. Yes, they may be singing about God but you don’t have to ‘hallelujah’ about God. A gospel choir sings about God but also about hope, strength, self-belief and overcoming challenges.
5) Be silent. No, I don’t mean shut up as a spiritual practice. Oh, maybe I do. I say be silent and observe the silence. Embrace the silence. In the silence, you might even hear or find your inner self.
6) Watch your favorite televangelist. And no, you don’t have to pick the one that’s asking you to send in $5,000 to save your soul. TV preachers ain’t all bad and many preach about overcoming life challenges and finding your inner strength during life’s rough times.
7) Take a hike. When you’re one with nature, you can’t help but think about nature and before you know it, your connection with nature. Nature has a way of revealing your true self.
8) Watch a sunset or sunrise. Sure, this sounds like a recipe for a romantic getaway but also a way to uplift your spirit and soul. Glorious sunrises and sunsets may make you even start seeking a higher power.
9) Help someone. Yes, helping others can be a spiritual practice all by itself. The act of giving selflessly to others brings out your best and highest self. Helping a friend when they are overwhelmed, a relative who is struggling or an elderly person with a chore will help you make you feel a spiritual connection.
10) Send love out into the world. Sending out love is something that my friend Wendy Irene regularly writes about on her blog. This may be a little hippie-ish sounding advice you heard when sitting around the campfire at Woodstock. When feeling afraid, overwhelmed or worried for yourself or someone else in your life, feel love and illuminate love for a few minutes.
You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. But if you think you’re a spiritual person or want to be more spiritually in tune, practice a little more spirituality in your life every day.
You’ll instantly feel the benefits of spiritual living; clarity, strength, compassion and connection.
For my book, Is God Listening?, about spirituality and resilience, click here.
How to achieve enlightenment?
A question that we usually ask ourselves in between watching reality TV and during the last 30 seconds before we fall asleep each day.
It’s a big life question and many religious texts and practices have tried to answer it.
You may find that different people answer this question in different ways – drugs and alcohol will definitely get you enlightened for a few hours. Fancy cars and big houses may make you believe that you’ve been enlightened. A local visit to your temple or church may feel like enlightenment is right around the corner.
But what if you want enlightenment right now? Ok…during this lifetime?
Don’t worry – this story doesn’t end with you spending a lifetime under a Boddhi tree in deep meditation. (Although that has worked for others in the past)
The Bhagavad Gita – no, that’s not what you had for lunch at Taj India buffet.
The sacred Hindu scripture, known as the Bhagavad Gita, provides 3 sacred paths to living an enlightened life. If you’re thinking the Bhagavad Gita was what you had for lunch at Taj India buffet last week, you’re sorely mistaken.
The Bhagavad Gita or “Sacred Song” is a Hindu epic that takes place in a mythical holy battlefield. Arjuna, a hero in this battle and a representation of every human soul who seeks guidance, strategizes how to fight his distant relatives on the battle-field.
This epic conversation between Arjuna (enlightenment-seeker – i.e. you) and the God Krishna takes up about 18 chapters of the Gita and is filled with pearls of wisdom about living and enlightenment.
No matter what you think about Hinduism or holy battles, the message of the Gita is universal. The Gita offers up three paths of salvation and enlightenment that you can put in practice into your life today.
The way of action (Karma Yoga) – Karma here is not in the sense of ‘don’t cheat your neighbor today or someone’s going to show up and slash your car tires tomorrow.’ While surely that can happen, we are talking about Karma in the unselfish action sense.
It is a path that states that you should do your duty in life (studying, working, raising children) but not for external reasons; glory, fame, wealth or praise. You do your life’s work without any expectations of a return.
Karma yoga instructs against taking action for selfish personal gain and suggests enlightenment by working for work’s sake.
When you ignore the ‘fruits’ of your actions, you become less attached to expectations, achievements and results. You can work for the sake of work, which Krishna calls divine work, and a sure-bet towards enlightenment.
So, in a nutshell, carry out life’s duties without expectations or seeking rewards.
The Way of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga)
This is enlightenment through knowledge; reading of texts or learning from wise teachers. Ok, I’ll agree with you – you’re right – reading Vishnu’s Virtues is probably a form of Jnana Yoga. So is picking up a copy of my book, Is God Listening? 🙂
Not the strongest form and definitely not recommended by 9 out of 10 gurus, but it’s one way. And many of you are great Jnana yogis as you may consume your fair share of wisdom-filled blogs (including www.tinybuddha.com, www.everydaygyaan.com, http://evolvingbeings.com/), spiritual texts and even read brilliant realized tweets to achieve the realized state.
Other ways include reading holy scriptures, being guided by wise men and women, meditation and even yoga.
Way of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga) This is the way of devotion or faith. It is the way of love, dedication, faith and worship.
If you sing in joy and celebration of a higher power, you’re practicing bhakti yoga.
Same if you’re praising, worshipping, or reflecting upon the higher powers.
This is a practice of love and praise. Constant and fervorous worship.
5 thing you can do to reach enlightenment today.
The Bhagavad Gita offers 3 ways to start on your path to enlightenment.
You can start on the path to self-realization today.
You don’t even have to sit under a boddhi tree for awareness. Or move to the Himalayas or jump the palace gates like the Buddha.
You don’t need to hit rock bottom or end up in your life’s lowest point to start your path to enlightenment.
You don’t need a groom running away at the alter, house foreclosure or income tax audit to help you get to the point of seeking spiritual realization.
1. Start working for the sake of work without minding so much about the results, achievements or goals. Yes, Hindu wisdom would say live a goal-free life. You can have goals in life but don’t expect enlightenment through a constant achievement of goals.
2. Read, inquire, question, learn. Check out practices, books, knowledge and other spiritual paths to start on your own path towards enlightenment. Enlightenment won’t happen overnight but you can start on your path today.
3. Worship, pray, meditate and make a connection with the higher powers in the universe.Some sort of an active spiritual practice can help you start your path to enlightenment.
4. Be a better human. Who knows? Maybe ultimately being enlightened is really about realizing that there’s a higher power that governs the universe. If this is the case, that higher power must be everywhere including within every human. Is enlightenment simply realizing this and being kinder, more loving and compassionate towards others?
5. Attend a rafastarian concert and rock out to reggae music. If you think enlightenment is utter nonsense and have no desire to get started on any spiritual path, I dare you to attend a reggae concert and not come out spiritually enlightened. Sure, it may be a temporary state of euphoria (until the smoke clears) but you’ll have a taste of what enlightenment could feel like.
Will you become an enlightened soul in a life-time?
* Thanks to the book Hinduism by Vasudha Narayanan which I referenced for parts of this post and madam3181 for the Buddha photo.
To learn more about my book on spirituality and resilience, Is God Listening, click here.