Evaluating our spiritual progress feels like a valuable query and yet it is not one we can address easily. I was prompted to reflect on the matter because someone, out of the blue two days ago, liked a post I wrote on my blog on November 12, 2019—a post about bubbles, a concept which is meaningful to me and upon which I will expand.
Thirteen months is a fairly long period where a lot can happen, including spiritual development! So thank you Michele!
The first thought that comes is that spiritual progress is not something we can measure with a yardstick. It is best to return to a significant moment in time, analyze how we behaved or responded then, and assess where we are in the present.
The ego mind takes us through circuitous routes and some of them, as you have certainly experienced, can be treacherous. That is the reason why it is important to keep a journal; one we can go back to and reflect upon. I did keep an “emotions journal” this year from April to June and found the adventure enlightening. Not only does it allow us to record our emotions or reactions, in many ways, it also allows us to empty our mind and to purge the emotional charge that may have accompanied the event.
A lot of what I consider spiritual progress has to do with lessening the impact of negative emotions. Both within and without. We all have people in our lives that irritate us, or frustrate us, and they may be present to show us something worthwhile: the hidden areas we need to work on. We may say that these people are here to “push our buttons,” as the expression goes, but it is only the surface level. I strongly believe there are in our lives to teach us something—something that only we can master. I’ve learned—with some difficulty, I must admit—to consider these people in my life as Buddhas. Disguised as they are, why would they go all the trouble to show us something that we need to change, if they were not our good friends?
Have you ever noticed the lessening of that irritation after some time? Have you taken great care to pay attention to the messages your mind sends when you are in the company of those people? Is the intensity of the message the same, or is it decreasing overtime?
The more attention we pay to what we feel and think, the more we realize that something positive is at work. Perhaps it’s only a question of responding to someone, after taking a short breath, instead of reacting. A sign of progress, that is. The variations in our inner responses can be subtle and that is why it is important to have our antennas out.
In the case of “my bubbles,” I realize thirteen months down the road that their intensity has dwindled. In fact, after rereading my November 12, 2019, article, another bubble showed up the next day at home. Instead of reacting internally, I remained quiet, almost undisturbed. Just noticing. And making sure I would not react to the other person.
In my case, a bubble is something I do or say that “takes off” (just like a soap bubble) and ends up creating irritation because of the environment I live in. Or because of the “sensitive Buddhas” that surround me every day. Yesterday’s bubble was no different to the extent that I could have done the same thing differently, a few minutes later. Yet, guided by the Universe (some would say God), I behaved the way I did to learn the “inner lesson” I learned—a lesson in observing and in realizing that “my spiritual progress is at work.”
Everyone can do that. It is a question of asking for guidance and being grateful for whatever comes our way. Not everything that appears negative in the first place is in fact negative. The perception we apply to what happens may (subjectively) give it a negative tone but, inherently, that something is neutral. It takes a special coloration because of the context in which it occurs—the context of our lives and our spiritual path.
Gratitude is definitely another hallmark of our progress. Gratitude for just about anything that happens to us, as well as gratitude for what some people do to us with their good intentions. How they take care of us or our family members, for instance.
Gratitude for the year 2020—a year that brought us many gems despite the worldwide turbulences and heartaches.
Gratitude comes out of a person’s heart and I believe it’s impossible to fake gratitude. We can certainly fake it with words—forcing gratitude out—but we cannot force the feeling out of our hearts. We know what is genuine gratitude, and what is not. The analogy that comes is that of a fire burning in the chimney in the middle of winter; possibly with a cup of herb tea or hot chocolate. We know how cozy that feeling is.
The more our hearts open up, the more gratitude percolates out, so to speak. Gratitude is something we may want to cultivate, one bud at a time. Take a moment every morning and every evening to list the reasons why you are grateful. You may soon notice an increase in your appreciation for life. And people coming to you with gracious comments and … more gratitude! What goes out often comes back to us.
Another area where we may want to reflect upon to assess our spiritual progress is that of consciousness. It is not an easy thing to do.
What are we conscious of now that we were not aware two years ago? Perhaps a stint of unconscious self-criticism that kept plaguing us and that, magically, dissolved. The magic, of course, is that of our spiritual practice and of the heart at work—our hearts.
I keep reading that 2020 is THE year when we need to let go of those detrimental beliefs that hamper our progress, so that we can move afresh into the era that is awaiting us.
I am not suggesting making a list of what we need to change in ourselves, but that is certainly one way to proceed. Again, observation and reflection are extremely important. Curiously listening to the Buddhas that surround us might also help along the way.
The rising of consciousness also manifests in new insights, new information that comes our way because some veils are being lifted along the way. We may not see it clearly that a veil has been removed—in essence, a veil is something that prevents us from seeing—but we can apprehend what is coming our way through this ‘liberated passage.’ And if it’s something new, then it may have something to do with us and our progress.
Believe me, it happens quite often and new insights as well as marvelous synchronicities can blow our mind and make us ask for more!
In my work as spiritual coach, I see it as my mission to help folks along the way, especially when it comes to removing or piercing the veils that obscure our inner vision. And I cannot tell you enough how important it is to adopt a fresh perspective as we embark on a post-2020 adventure.
Until March 14, 2021, I am offering up to five free coaching sessions, so please take advantage of working with someone who can see you objectively, compassionately and without any judgment. In the end, it will benefit you to the extent that you will “know thyself” better—another sign of progress!