Starting a spiritual journey, maybe?

path through forest

Make your path your own

Say the words ‘spiritual journey’ and sit back to witness the kinds of responses (or facial expressions) you will get back!

You may or may not consider yourself spiritual, or maybe you really haven’t thought about it too much. And if you are spiritual, how do you express that in your life?  I would put money on one thing – that if you haven’t thought it was important to you, once you are faced with a life-challenging situation, such as serious health issue or the death of someone important to you, you probably will start thinking more seriously about the gift of human life.

I have found in talking to people that ‘being spiritual’ can mean a variety of things.  Some say ‘I consider myself spiritual but not religious’, and some say their spirituality comes from their religious beliefs.  Some talk about their soul’s experience in this lifetime. Some people glaze over or try to mask their discomfort when the word ‘spiritual’ is said. Some people just don’t know.

How does one ‘start’ a spiritual journey?  What is a spiritual journey? Why would someone want to do this?

These are good questions, and if you happen to be someone who is at this point in your life – curious, interested, but unsure – do not fret over it, but approach it with wonder and exploration.  Know that everyone’s journey is unique. There are unlimited ways to explore your path.  Be careful not to make a judgment about a spiritual path because maybe you’ve talked to some people and have made assumptions about what it is.  You can make it your own.

To me, the simplest way I describe my journey is being awake and aware (not living life in auto-pilot), and living life with intention.  I exploring my life’s purpose, and choose how to live my life every day that speaks to this purpose.  I am not perfect, and I have unlimited opportunities to grow and learn.

This is obviously a huge subject, but in my view, an important one.

So now I ask, what is your spiritual journey?

~Wendy

Don’t try so hard all the time

Trying too hardSince I have embarked on my journey to grow personally and cultivate more joy in my life, I have caught myself numerous times ‘trying too hard’.

If you too are on an intentional journey of personal growth, I imagine you know what I am referring to.  We tend to crave for ways to learn and improve.  We have an insatiable thirst for discovery and trying new techniques. We seek out others who share our interest and want to share our stories with them.

Being self-aware is a great thing because you can be an observer of yourself. Recently I sat down in meditation, on a day I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, and a very clear message came to me “Don’t try so hard“.  I immediately knew what this meant; that I need to slow down and to not over commit myself.  One of my weaknesses is trying to do too much and I wear myself down.

Meditation is a wonderful thing.  I often get messages, clarity and answers through meditation.  When I got the ‘Don’t try so hard’ message, I immediately felt a sense of relief. We need to flex and adjust ourselves with the ebbs and flows of life, and this means lightening up sometimes so we don’t put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

Have a lovely day, and notice the wonders in your life.

What is enlightenment anyway?

buddha statue

To me, the buddha statue represents awakening and spiritual growth.

What is enlightenment?  Is it only for those who believe in Buddhism?  Is it truly achievable?

If you were to google the internet on enlightenment, you would see many ways to describe it.  You would see definitions like this:

  • ‘being free from all karma, being fully self-realized’
  • ‘being free from the cycle of karma and rebirth’
  • ‘being at oneness with the universe’
  • ‘being who you really are’
  • ‘being free from all your imaginary suffering’
  • ‘inner awakening’
  • ‘finding that there is nothing to find’

When I asked a wise friend of mine this question, his answer was ‘Total acceptance of self’.  This is an answer that really resonates with me. If we truly accept ourselves, we don’t get angry, frustrated and generally annoyed with life and other people and circumstances.

You may have experienced moments of enlightenment. Have you ever felt totally and completely at peace even for a short moment, even through your life’s challenges?  It’s a feeling of extreme inner joy and peace.

If you are on an intentional spiritual path, you are more likely to experience moments of enlightenment, because you are more awake and aware.

I am not a Buddhist, although I find most of Buddha’s teachings very helpful for daily guidance.  I find peace and serenity within lovely buddhas.  Moments of enlightenment can happen for anyone and when you experience it, I think you’ll know it.

In our western society lifestyles, I think it’s too much to expect that we can ‘achieve enlightenment’. However, we can achieve ‘moments of enlightenment’ with practice, the right intention and living our lives with compassion.

In the face of life’s traumatic challenges

black cloud

when an ominous cloud hovers over your life

The main topic of my blog is about cultivating joy in a western society lifestyle.  For me, it’s fairly easy to blog about joyful topics because that’s how I feel and I’m on the upside of the cancer journey.

But when I hear about other people’s traumatic news and see what they are facing, it suddenly brings me back to the days when I got my cancer diagnosis, or saw my father lying in the hospital’s intensive care unit after a heart attack awaiting bypass surgery.  How can life be joyful then?

This week a dear friend came to me to tell me the cancer that she battled last year and thought she had beat has now returned.  If facing cancer once isn’t bad enough, think about all the treatment and recovery that one goes through and is faced with doing it again, not to mention the uncertainty of life expectancy.

I think I have decided to write about this to share with you a few thoughts:

  • Wake up, my friends, to the fact that life is precious and the duration is unknown. Don’t waste your time being negative, frustrated, jealous or egotistical – we are human and this will happen, but be self-aware and let things go.
  • If you are faced with a traumatic situation everything in your life will feel like it’s standing still.  You may feel numb. This is a complex time and too complex to delve into in a single blog post, but I generally see that having a strong faith in something really helps carry one through this trauma. Depending on your beliefs, this may be to God, universal source, spirit – whatever you believe. A connection to something bigger than yourself provides strength of spirit.
  • Life becomes about the journey. Life is about the journey.  Why are you here on this earth?  What do you want this life to be about?

When I faced my trauma, my journey became clear:  to cultivate joy in my life and help as many people as I can.

I’d like to ask you to think about what your journey is. Most people don’t know.  Don’t wait for a trauma in your life to figure it out.

Part 5 – When you don’t have a partner on your spiritual journey

Garden of the Gods mountain range

Garden of the Gods mountain range in Colorado Springs. A sacred place full of energy.

This is Part 5 in the series ‘Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?’.  This post: How about when you don’t have a partner?

This topic is a simpler one.  When you are in the situation of not having a partner, and want to pursue your spiritual growth, what do you do?

* * * Go for it! * * *  That’s what you do!

There are so many ways to grow. Here are some ideas:

  • Try out different community groups, meetup groups and events – whether it’s for meditation, listening to a speaker or attending a workshop, there are so many activities out there in the world to try. The key is to keep an open mind, go with no expectations or pre-judgments and allow yourself to explore, learn and be opened.
  • Do not make a generalization based on one event. Sometimes a particular event may not be right for you, maybe you interact with people that you don’t like,  but do not let this close your mind. For instance, not all meditation courses or sitting groups are the same. If you go to one that makes you feel uncomfortable, try another one.
  • Seek out like-minded people. Broach conversations with people to discover what similar interests and beliefs they may share with you. Having a coffee or talking a walk with like-minded people is invigorating. You will find the conversation can go on for hours.

When I was younger, I did not have the benefit of understanding how to seek out like-minded people or how to go about expanding my spiritual interests.   Not only didn’t I understand how to go about this, I also did not have the self-awareness to realize this was an area of interest for me. But I think it was life’s hard knocks and maturing that gave me the insight to realize what I wanted to explore.

If you are seeking to find a partner, what a great opportunity to get out there to interact with like-minded people; maybe you will find someone who wants company on their spiritual path too.

This concludes the 5 part series about spirituality and partnerships.  I hope you enjoyed reading them.

~Wendy