Spirituality is no longer relegated to the backdrop of our lives. Pursuing goal after goal in life and still finding itself unfulfilled, humanity has realised that spirituality is an indispensable part of daily life. It is no longer dismissed as something that one will pursue someday in the distant future. It is rather seen as something that has to be practised right now to lead a fruitful existence.
Inculcating a spiritual awareness can, no doubt, help us lead happier, more fulfilled, purposeful lives.
If you want to increase spiritual awareness among your loved ones, the pointers below can help you get started.
1. Join a meditation programme together
Meditation is the most effective method to calm ourselves and get in touch with our inner self. The hustle and bustle of daily life can often make our lives frantic with stress. Inculcating even a simple five-minute practice of medication can help us in beating this stress. Not only can it help us get a valuable perspective on our life, but it can also boost our spiritual awareness.
The practise of meditation can be traced back to 5000 BCE. It was part of the spiritual and religious practices found in ancient India, China, Egypt, Japan, etc. As trade carried it from one place to another, the practice acquired new moulds to fit new cultures.
In the West, meditation acquired a cult status in the twentieth century and its popularity has only been growing in recent times.
There are many ways in which we can practise meditation. We can focus on our breath, on a mantra, on the flow of our own thoughts, etc. Someone who has difficulty staying still will be best served by opting for a simple method—one that they find easy to stick to.
To begin with, meditation may turn out to be slightly unsettling. It isn’t easy to face our deepest thoughts and feelings after all. But it is only by observing the swirl of thoughts in our mind that we can summon the strength to rise above them.
2. Encourage your loved ones to read spiritual books
Countless spiritual leaders have trodden the spiritual path before us and have left their wisdom for us to benefit from. When we are talking about books to read to enhance spiritual awareness, we have to begin with the holy books. All the major religions of the world have a holy book and reading them can bring valuable spiritual insight to us.
The Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita have laid out directions that we can follow to reach a state of enlightenment.
We can also read books by enlightened thinkers of recent times, such as those by Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chödrön, Alan Watts, etc. With their ability to distil the essence of spiritual wisdom with their simple words, they have inspired countless to embark upon a spiritual life.
In his The Power of Now, Tolle tells us to shine the light of awareness on the present and accept whatever it has to offer.
The late Alan Watts wrote a number of books explaining the essentials of Buddhism in an easy-to-understand way. The Dalai Lama has also penned down books such as The Art of Happiness and The Book of Joy.
3. Engage in community service together
Spiritual awareness is about recognising the oneness of the universe. It’s not just about theoretical knowledge. We have to put our spiritual learnings into practice to reap the benefits from it.
Community service can be an effective way to do this. It can take several forms, such as helping the sick and poor, volunteering for causes you feel passionate about, providing support to the elderly, etc.
Getting out there and trying to solve the problems of the world can be a huge learning experience in itself. It can help us build empathy and compassion, two qualities that form the backbone of spiritual awareness.
Volunteer in a community service initiative that both you and your loved one are interested in. Service can encourage a spiritual seeker to remain humble and have goodwill towards fellow members of society.
4. Spend time in nature
The most harmful ill of modern life is that we do not spend enough time in nature. Surrounded by a concrete jungle, we are often forgetful of our true self. Spending even a small amount of time in nature can boost our peace of mind and contentedness.
Make a plan with your loved one and go visit a park or a natural retreat. Once there, you can relax and simply observe the rhythm of natural life. Look at the trees rustling in the wind, the birds hopping and chirping, the squirrel hurrying by.
This simple exercise will help you and your loved one appreciate the interconnectedness of all life and your own place in the universe.
5. Encourage your loved one to be aware of the mundane
In the general course of our lives, we seek to avoid pain and run after pleasure. Our lives can usually be summarised as running frantically from one goal to another. But this kind of restless existence does not bring peace to us. A spiritual seeker is distinguished by his comfort in and love of the mundane and the everyday.
Even a spiritual life itself can be as much of a trap as ordinary life. Many of us are lured away by the superficialities of it. The robes of monks, for example, might have a special charm for us. While our own workaday existence might seem insufferably dull and out of the ken of spirituality.
We must recognise that what we have is enough. No amount of rushing and scrambling will bring us lasting peace. Only then will we be able to sit still and take delight in the beauty of everyday life.
6. Pledge with your loved one to be mindful in your relationship
Spiritual awareness is not something that must be practised and left behind in the meditation hall. It has to be brought into every aspect of our daily life. One such realm is that of relationships.
A gift of spirituality is that it encourages us to be forgiving of the frailties of others and recognise that their weaknesses are no different from our own. Make a commitment with your loved one to be mindful in your relationship with each other and with others. Don’t let your better self be drowned out by your passions.
Letting go of negative patterns of behaviour is essential to spiritual life. Every relationship in our life—whether it is with family, friends, or a beloved—has to contribute to our spiritual growth. This growth requires mutual give and take.
In the words of M. Scott Pecks in The Road Less Travelled, love, is the ‘will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.’
7. Encourage your loved one to let go of fear and anger
Love is the greatest characteristic of a spiritually aware existence. And we can make way for love only when we let go of fear and anger. Being aware of what we are afraid of or angry at can help us see what we are anxious about. It can be the fear of losing our possessions, that of being separated from our loved ones, etc.
Fear and anger are reactive emotions, ones we succumb to without thinking. While spirituality is all about mindfulness, that is, having the perspective to rise above our base emotions.
While it is only human to be afraid and angry, one has to be courageous in the face of fear to discover the wisdom that lies on the other side of it.
In the words of Alan Watts in The Wisdom of Insecurity, ‘The principal thing is to understand that there is no safety or security.’
8. Engage in worship together
In the present day, a lot of people have started to differentiate between religion and spirituality. But we must remember that religion, when seen in the correct light, can provide us with a lot of tools to make our spiritual journey easier.
Every religion in the world teaches oneness and compassion. The rituals that form a part of religion can help us in practising spiritual awareness. Prayer is a powerful practice that can help us surrender and hope in the face of insurmountable odds.
And while we are talking about service, it’s important to note how religions like Sikhism and Christianity have service embedded within their religious tenets.
Hinduism, too, encourages one to recognise the god within the other.
If you have embarked upon a spiritual life yourself, it’s a good idea to encourage your loved ones to do so as well. Together, you can be stronger on this path towards self-awareness and support each other when you need it.
While there are many paths towards spiritual awareness, the idea behind them all is the same: to be more aware of each aspect of life. Awareness will gift you with the keen insight you need to unlock the spiritual gifts within yourself.