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Spiritual awakening is a notion that’s been around for centuries and can be experienced in a variety of cultures and religions around the world.  Whether it’s referred to as enlightenment, nirvana, or bliss, it begins the moment a person can step back and ‘awake’ to their life with a new sense of being in this world.  It is a subjective experience where an individual’s ego transcends their ordinary, finite sense of self to encompass a wider, infinite sense of truth or reality.

A spiritual awakening can be triggered by anything, often something completely unrelated to the topic itself.  Common causes include life-changing events such as retiring, moving, an accident, losing a life-long friend/mate, an illness or diagnosis.  Causes could also include losing your job, divorce, war, pandemics, midlife or mental crises, or even depression or anxiety. 

Signs and symptoms of a spiritual awakening include a feeling of disconnectedness or detachment where one feels overwhelmed and confused; reevaluation of your beliefs; relationships begin to shift; spiritually becomes an important part of your life, and meaning and fulfillment become priorities; heightened intuition, and ability to sense inauthentic or manipulative behavior; realization and acceptance that everyone has their own path; feeling of loneliness , especially when other people aren’t on the same wave; feeling of more connectedness to the natural world; heightened senses and more in to the present moment; increased empathy to the world around you, and to those suffering; and more compassion to others.

Activities that can be helpful as you proceed through this process would include meditation, spending time outside, laughing, dancing, connecting with others, volunteering, practicing gratitude, and slowing down. 

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”  (Eckhart Tolle) Spend time focused on fully becoming yourself.

Meditation: 

In the first phase of meditation one often discovers they are not the body.  In the second phase, they discover they are not the mind.  In the third stage, they discover their universal nature, or in other words, the unity of all life.  Mystics have long believed that it is the goal to remove what covers our original goodness so that we can reveal more and more of the divine in our own lives.

One of the purposes of meditation is personal transition.  You can’t make radical changes in the pattern of your life until you see yourself exactly as you are now.  The “you” that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same “you” that comes out the other side.  Meditation changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you more deeply aware of your own thoughts, words, and deeds.

Meditation sharpens your concentration and thinking power.  It (Vipassana) is an ancient and codified system of training your mind.  It is a set of exercises dedicated to the purpose of becoming more and more aware of your own life experience.  It is attentive listening, mindful seeing, and careful testing.  We learn to listen to our own thoughts without being caught up in them.

The object of meditation is to also learn to see the truths of impermanence.  It’s also about learning to live.  The goal is to be totally aware of everything that is happening in your own perceptual universe, exactly the way it happens, exactly when it is happening – total unbroken awareness in present time.

Don’t wait:

There is a story about a person that kept putting off life’s deeper questions in order to do one more ‘thing.’  Time after time he/she told themselves they’d meditate, seek answers, change their life next week, next month, maybe next year.  Then one night they dreamed they were going to die.  There was no chance to change their direction.  Time had run out, and all their plans for making a new start in life could never be fulfilled.  It was a terrifying experience, and as they struggled to wake up, they vowed passionately not to postpone for a single morning more.  But when they tried to sit up, they found it was no dream; they were on their deathbed.

Spirituality is a broad concept of a belief in something beyond the self.  There is not a single path or belief system.   It may involve religious traditions that center on the belief in a higher power.  It can also involve a holistic belief in an individual connection to others and to the world as a whole.

Spirituality offers a worldview that suggests there is more to life than just what people experience on a sensory and physical level.  It proposes that there is something greater that connects all beings to each other and to the universe itself.  It also suggests that there is an ongoing existence after death and attempts to answer questions about the meaning of life.  This includes how people are connected to each other, mysteries of human existence, and even truths about the universe.

Signs of spirituality can include feelings of awe and wonder.  Often it involves seeking happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards.  It could be an experiencing of compassion and empathy for others, and a deepening of connections with other people.   It could even extend to feelings of interconnectedness and wanting to make the world a better place.

Although spirituality is a personal experience, and paths may differ, research shows that some spiritual stress relief strategies have been helpful to many, regardless of faith.  Worthwhile avenues to exploring  spirituality would include the following practices.  Mindfulness, becoming more mindful, can help you become more aware and appreciative of the present.  This encourages you to be less judgmental and focus more on the moment than dwelling on the past, or future.  Meditation every day will supplement these efforts and increase one’s awareness, as may prayer.  Next, paying attention to your feelings helps you embrace what it means to be human, both good and bad.  Practicing gratitude can also be a great reminder of what is most important to you and what brings you the greatest happiness.  Focusing on others and helping others will open your heart and cause feelings of empathy, all important aspects of spiritually.  Journaling, an increasingly recognized valuable tool, will further open up paths to self-awareness, feelings, and spirituality.

Spiritual work is the labor of a lifetime.  It starts at different times and is experienced a little differently by everyone. …

Find the proper time:

The best time to focus on your spirituality will depend on your lifestyle and what you seek to gain from your practice.  A regular practice has been shown to lead to an array of health benefits, such as improve concentration, reduce stress levels, and enhance the quality of sleep.  It is a discovery of self and spirituality, however, that is the goal, which will be in proportion to your commitment.  So find the time that works for you.

Experience indicates the time varies from one person to another, but the top choice is morning when we wake up and feel refreshed.  After work or during lunch are possibilities, when a needed break is welcome.  Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out is good, and before bed when you can really unwind.  Decide on a time that you are able to remain alert, aware, and focused.

Create the appropriate setting:

You need to create space that’s right for you.  Things to keep in mind would include cutting out background noises, personalize your space, create soft lighting, add soft furnishings, and choose soothing colors.  Also consider using scents and candles, and other connections with nature, such as natural light and perhaps a serene painting or picture.  The space is yours, and should be up to you and what makes you feel most comfortable.

A corner will do, clean and uncluttered.  Work with it, and feel free to adjust and change it as you need to.  Just be sure it’s a ‘feel good’ space, and has the degree of privacy you need. 

Make the commitment:

Making a commitment is to promise to do something.  It is a firm decision or pledge that you make to do something in the future.  It is the act of binding yourself, intellectually and emotionally, to a course of action.  It should not be taken lightly.  It is also an action that is meant to help you achieve your goal.

This commitment demands that you set your goals, commit to the process, and have a plan.  It’s not important that you tell other people, but you can if it helps motivate you and hold you accountable.  Then you need to get started and reward yourself, although implementation of this process well be reward enough.  

(this completes the initial outline of Bringing things into Focus and Taking the next Steps – the future postings will hopefully help you to Continue your individual Spiritual Journey …)

(these are the last two parts of the outline under Bringing things into Focus)

Limitations:

There’s so much we do not know, and will never know.  That’s just the way ‘it is.’  We’re only human beings on this earth for a short time, and only conscious of this existence.  Even then we are often not aware of who and what we are, or what we could be.

We are such a small spec in the total universe.  The realization that everything is temporary is so hard to absorb.  It is difficult to even begin to comprehend, especially when we tend to push that concept away.  We don’t want to understand that.  It’s very scary, so why try to accept it. 

Our limitation is most often only ourselves.  Life often gets ‘thrown away’ with ‘key meetings.’  There’s a danger in working only on the outside.  It’s the inside we should be focusing on.  Look not at the event, as it’s about what happens to you on the inside.  The task is not to get pulled in.  It’s about losing our sense of self.

Too often our life is in neutral.  We’re ‘just there’ and events just happen.  We don’t always experience life.  As a result we forget to taste life as it goes by.

We often attempt to define and control life.  We sometimes try to manipulate life.  Things are often neither right nor wrong, they just are.  (Most things are not right or wrong.)  Life is like that.  It seems by nature we want to define and control.  How difficult it is for us to go with the flow, accept reality, and be alert to what the world is often trying to telling us.

Strengths:

There is not a single path we are all on.  There are, however, usually some common concerns and desires we all share.  At some level, at some stage of our life, we usually have feelings of awe and wonder, seek happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards, have feelings of compassion and empathy for others, deepen connections with other people, ask questions about topics such as suffering and what happens after death, experience feelings of interconnectedness and a desire to make the world a better place.  It is a process and our values hopefully become clearer.

Dealing with Reality:

No matter what we do, or try to do, we are a part of the reality of this world.  We cannot escape this fact.  Rather than identify with this world, however, we need to face our own predicament and avoid attaching ourselves to the results. If we shift our focus to a process thinking versus outcome thinking, we will be able to live a more peaceful and productive life.  If we are able to separate the reality we cannot control and focus on those things we can control, it will give us a new found freedom.

Consciousness is required to keep a constant vigilance and to focus our attention on our relationship with reality.  This clearly involves welcoming change and embracing challenges.  It includes doing everything that you do effectively with passion, commitment and confidence.  

It often helps to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  This means actively doing what we need to do in order to keep moving forward, and creating a momentum.  It means maintaining one’s values and goals, and achieving those things in life we find meaningful and purposeful.  It also means continuing one’s own spiritual journey of self-awareness and discovery, and a greater understanding and acceptance of ‘what is.’     

Be aware of ‘what is’ and push away that which disturbs you and which you cannot control.  Focus on those things that attract you and where you can make a difference.  Do what’s in front of you and in your control.  Go with life and decide to grow by doing those things that you can.

The recent phase of this blog is complete, and a new approach will now begin.

The past years have focused on concepts relating to the Meaning of Life.  That effort culminated in the expansion of those concepts and ideas, and concluded with a published book – The Meaning of Life.  (Amazon Dick Rappleye The Meaning of Life)

This new phase will explorer concepts relating to the Spiritual Journey.  This effort will follow a similar format, being a series of ideas and approaches that will hopefully stimulate the readers thinking.  The goal is to encourage further exploration and facilitate one’s own Spiritual Journey.

Initial outline of future Spiritual Journey blogs:

     Bringing things into Focus

            Dealing with Reality

            Our Limitations

            Our Strengths

     Taking the next Steps

            Find the proper Time

            Create the proper Setting

            Make the Commitment

    Continuing your individual Spiritual Journey

The many lessons of grief include a better understanding of loss, transitions, and changes, as well as a heightened appreciation of love, family, and friends.  Grief is painful, but usually brings an opportunity to experience the feelings that come with being human.  It is a chance to appreciate life, because if we don’t reach the heights of love, sharing, relationships, caring (the list goes on) how could we ever reach the painful depths of life – the loss of those peak experiences of life. of things and those we love.

Like most of life, you must let yourself feel it, sense it, experience it.  Without the true highs then there could not be the depths of lows.  The highs and lows are all part of it.  They depend on each other. 

Grief is a part of life, with many theories for dealing with it.  Included are: 

Kubler Ross’s 5 stages of grief –denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

Rando’s 6 Rs for processing mourning – recognize the loss, react to the separation, recollect and re-experience (the deceased), relinquish old attachments, readjust (to a new world),  reinvest (emotional energy)

     Bowlby’s 4 stages of grief – shock and numbness, yearning and searching, despair and  disorganization, reorganization and recovery

     Warden’s 4 tasks of mourning – accept the reality of the loss, work through the pain of grief, adjust to an environment where the deceased  is missing, find an enduring connection  with the deceased while embarking on a new life

     Eric Lindermann’s 3 steps to recovery – emancipation from bondage to the deceased, readjustment to a new environment in which the deceased is missing, formation of new relationships

     Klass, Silverman, and Nickman’s continuing bonds theory – suggests that rather than assuming detachment as a normal grief response, consider creating a new relationship with the deceased. This does not mean one is not grieving in a normal and healthy way, but that grief can include having ties to loved ones where one finds ways to adjust and redefine the relationship with that person.

Things to remember as you deal with grief include:

           Grief is unique for each person

            Stages are not linear

            Not everyone goes through stages in a prescribed order

            Path is more like a labyrinth, not a tunnel

            Stages are just tools

            Steps may repeat

            There is no endpoint

C.S.Lewis – Feeling, and feelings, and feelings.  Let me try thinking instead.

                  –  It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist chair or let your hands lie ii your lap.  The drill drills on.

                   -Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.

Experiences feed our attachments and increase our desire for more experiences.  When we begin to sense the unity of all things, however, we can begin to identity our Self.  It is then that our perspective can grow and change can take place.

When we begin to awaken, our experiences lead to reflection and insight.  This developing of consciousness can enable the soul to free itself from the bonds of the ego.  The experiences that form our ego seem real at the time, but they constantly change.  We have endless experiences, but the Self is separate.

The Self is on a different level of consciousness.  It doesn’t try to change, evaluate or judge, it just observes.  The Self is what helps you to center.  It is the part of your soul that allows you the discriminate between your soul and your ego, between your real Self and the self of this human life.

Human life is a series of experiences.  When one becomes aware of the process, they can begin to shift their identification from these roles and thought forms.  The process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one.

 

Ego = _____1_____

Knowledge               More the knowledge, the lesser the ego

Lesser the knowledge, more the ego               Albert Einstein

When the ego dies, the soul awakes.      Mahama Gandhi

The ego wants quantity but the soul wants quality.

If you want to improve, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.   Epictetus

A bad day for your ego is a great day for you soul.     J. Michaels

Your ego is your soul’s worst enemy.      R. Eric

Your were born to be real, not to be perfect.

Sometimes you have to be alone to truly know your worth.   K. Baquirue

I am me, nothing more, nothing less, and that is enough.   H. Dayal

It’s not your job to like me.  It’s mine.

 

We are searching for answers that are beyond our reach.  Yet the combined human intelligence is constantly growing.  As a result, perhaps some of the things we are seeking answers for may someday be common knowledge.

In the past, religious and native cultures had many of the answers for their questions, but it could not be proven by science.  Today science has many answers for past questions, but still has not made the connection with spirituality.  Who knows where it may end, what someday we may know.

Clearly we seem to be evolving.  Quantum theory in the early 1900s called for a new order of physics.  It sought to explain the seen and the unseen.  It looked for the connection between the macros and micros.  By the mid-1900s Bohm wanted a radically new order of physics, one that included focusing on the enfolding and unfolding of the universe.  He wanted to start with process, not particles.  It left the door open for thinking of the soul as a movement in our life.  The possibility that life is a wholeness of nature and consciousness.

Science is reaching out closer to a possible bridge to understanding spirituality, a greater understanding of who we are, where did we come from, and what is our purpose.  This all will hopefully add to our insight as what is reality.  Perhaps we are the determiner of what we see.  Quantum physics invites us to see the whole of which we may see that we are co-producers.  Wholeness is an interdependency where we may be internally related to everything..  It shows how we need to look beyond the form to see the oneness, and how reality is undivided wholeness.  Hopefully this knowledge may even show us how we interact with each other and with the earth, and how we must solve our problems together.