Spirituality is the realization, a feeling, a belief that there are things in the world which are beyond sensory perceptions and in a sense we are all part of nature. The feeling might be cosmic or divine. Being spiritual is rising above the material wants of life and establishing a deeper connection with oneself and be at peace with who you are.
Spirituality, by definition is all about the nourishing the soul or the human spirit with profound and positive thoughts. In order to focus on our spirit or soul we must first shift our focus from our inherent greed for physical and material things.
Self realization can mean separate things to separate people. It can be construed as the state of mind which channels our inner potential. To be the best we can in a cosmic sense. It can also mean knowledge of who we are and why we do what we do. It is the understanding of one’s true nature and the liberation of one’s spirit or soul from personal ego, vanity, desire, anger etc.
Spirituality without self realization is purposeless. And self realization without spirituality is impossible. Self realization is a state of the mind. Spirituality is the journey that takes us to that state. Each without the other is incomplete.
There are several stages a human has to go through to attain self realization.
1. Self Awareness:
Not everyone undergoes a spiritual awakening. Self awareness is the sporadic moment of introspection of who we are and how our daily interactions affect others. This needs a strong person who can understand his or her own shortcomings and move away from such conditions. Some people, when they gain self awareness, lose track of what is possible and go into a state of denial.
The first step is realizing that every action and every word and every interaction has a positive or a negative outcome. The next step is realizing that improvements can be made to shift towards the positive side.
2. Self exploration:
Having realized the effect our actions have on others, self-aware people focus on changing certain traits about themselves. In this stage of self realization, a right mentor or a right book can be very handy in guiding us through this difficult phase.
3. Self discovery:
A curiousness follows this self exploration stage, and we start questioning the “why” behind everything we do. This expands our understanding of why certain things are done in certain manner. We start to think and question why we feel certain feelings, prejudices. By reflecting on this inner self we are able to move past our addictions, fears and limitations at a conscious, subconscious and unconscious level.
4. Self understanding:
Self understanding is a culmination of the 3 previous stages. Self understanding is the thorough and unencumbered understanding of why we behave and feel and speak the way we do. It reveals the true nature of our spirit or soul. This is the backbone of self realization.
5. Self love:
Once we understand the true nature of our soul, we are filled with love for every fabric of our true self. Without self understanding it is not possible to develop self-love. Learning how to truly love oneself also transforms us as an individual. We stop punishing ourselves for what we do, since we now know why we do what we do. We start nurturing the good and eliminating the negative influences in our lives. We tend to forgive people for their shortcomings and it also boosts our confidence and self-esteem.
6. Self transformation:
True self-love results in a transformation of our very core. We shed our previous perceptions and limiting habits that used to fuel our ego. This stage is practically a rebirth and is an extremely liberating experience. We are now more soul-centric than ego-centric, and we are at peace with who we are.
7. Self mastery:
This is a stage which is again a culmination of the previous stages, and we become aligned and connected with our soul. We have control over our ego. Love and understanding for the natural way of life makes the individual calm, composed, wise and content with our being.
8. Self transcendence:
Self transcendence is the stage where we are connecting with our spirit. It is the stage where our spirit mixes with nature, and we realize we all have a part to play in nature. Meditation and yogic practices help in becoming one with the divine. Continuously living a spiritual life and following its tenets invariably leads one to self transcendence. But achieving higher conscious states require a lot of discipline and is not something easily achievable.
9. Self realization:
Self realization is something that is neither taught or bought. It is something that needs to be attained by the self and it is given by life itself. Self realization means recognizing ourselves as something that is the same as what we consider to be divine. It involves moving past egotistical feelings like “me”, “mine” etc.
Once we attain this realization we become truly free. Neither fear, nor separation nor suffering affects us. All that remains, is the pure and radiant feeling of being united with life, spirit and nature.
Attaining this stage is not nearly enough and effort needs to be put in to continue onwards and upwards. Being in state of self realization merely means our perception of one’s true nature is enhanced, and we have a sharpened sense of attention. We come to realize the vast resources of energy we possess and how to channel that to the best of our abilities. We come to terms with the presence of our spiritual construct when we are attentive.
Achieving self realization is not the end point or the goal. It is the doorway which leads us and provides us with an opportunity to embark on a spiritual journey that will in turn allow us to reach an even higher state of evolution. But this requires hard work, dedication, perseverance and above all a strong desire to achieve it. Enlightenment is never realized by a pursuit or becoming. It is achieved through a process of perpetually and effortlessly letting go. Thereby limiting any pressure that might otherwise induce desires.
It is not as if your life will stop having new experiences after self realization. Life in itself offers a myriad of experiences that affect the body as well as the mind. The more we are affected by what is happening around us in life the more the spirit clings on to the physical body. This journey towards a self realized form enables us to filter out the experiences of the past. In such a way that we no longer hold ourselves in contempt for the actions done in the past. Because we start to realize the true nature of the spirit and accept our limitations and shed the barriers around us.
When we reach a state of self consciousness the soul or the spirit tries in all earnest to become one with the divine and in this case, one with the self-conscious. That is the spirit’s ultimate purpose.
In order to attain this state of being we must be willing to purify our spirit by looking inwards.
One of the things that helps us immensely is meditation. Even modern science has found evidence that meditating every day can resolve a lot of health issues and concentrating on one’s breathing will help us channel our inner energy.
In order to do proper meditation, select a place in the house which you feel is closest to nature. The best results are achieved outdoors early in the morning. Breathing is an essential part of being in a meditative state. Consciously focus on the breathing and feel the breath move around inside you. Let your thoughts flow but keep the focus on the breathing.
Another method we can employ is Yoga. For centuries, Indian Gurus have extolled the virtues of yoga. The point here is simple. A sound body houses a sound mind. Apart from breathing yoga also focuses on the blood flow within the body. And also strengthens the muscles.
Self realization needs to happen every day. It is a continuous process. Training our minds to our will is extremely difficult and it involves giving time and effort. A reflection on how we are going to spend our day will illuminate at least one activity that might not yield any positive results and it is basically just a force of habit. Try to see if the time spent on that habit can be better utilized doing something else. Something like Yoga or meditation.
Self realization through spirituality is a way of life meant to provide upliftment to the soul as well as the body. There will be a marked difference in the quality of our lives if we diligently follow these tenets. We will have more control over our emotions and in general our life.