It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
Maybe you’ve been there. You’re determined to try and gain (or regain) a greater measure of insight and enlightenment in your life - the kind of enlightenment that can lead to real joy and significant satisfaction. So you make the decision to begin a spiritual practice - meditation, prayer, journaling, or even simple reflection.
The setting for the first day of your new practice can vary. You may be in a low-lit room or you could be outside in the sunshine. Maybe you’re alone or surrounded by others with a similar goal. No matter where you are, it can feel like you’re a warrior on the day of battle. You sit and you wait for this momentous beginning to occur, for enlightenment, insight, and truth to wash over you.
However, there’s a good chance that all of this is occurring at the beginning or the end of a long day. As you sit there, your mind, which didn’t get the memo regarding your new practice, starts to spit up all the things that are on your to-do list. Or...all the things that you failed to cross off that list.
Stop it! Concentrate!
You take a deep breath and begin again, trying to clear your monkey mind. But it swings wildly, throwing crazy disjointed thoughts through your awareness like the never-ending news ticker at the bottom of a CNN news report. Red wine. Yes, full-bodied delicious red wine. You think about how nice it would be to have glass of wine and slip into a warm bath. Isn’t the new episode of “The Crown” on tonight?
Stop this! Cut this crap out! Get serious!
Another deep breath and another try. You must get this right. Your soul, your spirit, your future happiness depends on you finally getting your shit together and doing this the way it needs to be done. You sit up even straighter. Your brow is furrowed in concentration. Now you are more agitated than present. You realize that your back is starting to ache. Then your nose itches. You also have to pee.
To hell with this!
You get up and stand there, frustrated, angry, and deflated. “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do this? Don’t I want this badly enough?” Over time, the frustration and anger fade, leaving behind a sad and empty feeling, along with a resolve to get to your spiritual and personal goal, no matter what. “I will do this! I will work harder! I will do what it takes, no matter what!”
That resolve carries you through to the next time you’re sitting in that darkened room or on that deck or patio, steadfast and determined…until your nose starts to itch.
All Work and No Play…
Spiritual and personal growth is not a slog. It’s not a job. It may, at times, be painful, but it is not meant to be grounded in discomfort. You don’t have to be uncomfortable, in a bare, monastic cell, just you and your perceived deficiencies waiting for a life-changing moment. In fact, you don’t have to be anywhere in particular at all.
Growth is not about denial. It’s about abundance. It’s about increased joy. It’s about enhanced meaning. Growth needs laughter, light, and love to occur!
Your life is transforming right now, if you only stop and recognize the signs.
Many people take personal growth, and themselves, far too seriously. They journal and discuss endlessly, past the point where they have nothing meaningful left to say. They meditate compulsively. They fill their weekends with workshops and online trainings. They obsessively (and egotistically) demand that the universe give them enlightenment on a schedule of their choosing. They then perceive their lack of meaningful words and the absence of instant enlightenment as another personal failing to be added to a pile of perceived personal failings that’s already too big to manage.
This combination of excessive solemnity and need for immediate change leaves them disillusioned, cynical, and ultimately, endlessly stuck in a vicious, negative cycle.
But take it from someone who calls herself “spiritual special needs”: It doesn’t have to be this way!
Balance is Everything
Growth and positive change are like plants. Sowing the seed is simply the start. You also must give that seed water, light, and time in order for it to flower. It takes balance and patience to grow a garden. It also takes balance and patience to achieve personal growth.
I’m the first to admit that life can sometimes be dark and serious. I’ve clocked enough time at the bottom of the valley to remember the sharp feelings of fear, loss, rejection, and isolation. During those times, you need a mother, a sister to lean on, to listen, and to give advice that can calm the internal rapids roiled by personal crisis.
But life isn’t all darkness and crisis. Very often, happiness lies in the little things, the things that happen between life’s big moments. Sunlight through trees. Bird song in the morning. Impromptu get-togethers with friends. It’s not the devil that’s in the details. Very often, it’s the godhead infusing the smallest of things, the most mundane tasks, with potential and possibility.
Living authentically and courageously is an act of balance. Yes, there are difficult issues to face and work through and some tough decisions to make. But it is not all an uphill battle on a rough road. You craft a life of joy and meaning by understanding the meaning of joy.
A full life is a glass of wine with good friends. It is a loaf of freshly-baked bread. It’s Sunday brunch in the backyard. It’s traveling to a new location and rediscovering something about yourself that you’d forgotten. It’s a great book, a funny joke, and your favorite movie on a rainy afternoon.
An Authentic Realization
I once desperately wanted to connect with the joy and balance that comes from living an authentic life. So I tried to master meditation. In fact, I am the woman at the beginning of this article, meditating endlessly trying to connect with something beyond myself that would deliver a reprieve from the inner demons I was battling. Then as I climbed into bed at night, I would clutch my rosary to my heart and beseech God, over and over, to connect me with peace and joy. And then in the morning, I would steamroll throughout the day to achieve perfection and success. And throughout it all, I was eternally unhappy. Always feeling as though wherever my attention was – it should have been somewhere else. I was completely out of balance, drowning, and my frantic actions weren’t getting me anywhere close to a lifeboat.
And then, one day, I realized that finding happiness didn’t have to be this hard. A life of connection, peace, and balance is not dependent upon how long you meditate or how hard you pray. I was being too hard on myself. I saw that to find joy, I needed to lighten up, let some air into the room and be fully present with whatever was in front of me. Paying bills, peeling carrots, changing diapers, packing for a vacation, eating burgers at Five-Guys.
In order to find joy all you really need to do is relax. You are not a warrior going into battle. No one is asking for penitence, austerity, or sacrifice. Find balance. Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love generously. And allow your only prayer to be thank you, and in time… peace will find you.
Joy. Meaning. Real happiness.
These things are there for the taking, if we only stop and look at life with eyes that are truly open. There’s no need to kneel in an austere cell for years on end, enduring a difficult spiritual practice to get the happiness that you deserve.
Go to JanDesai.com right now and download my free audio training “How to Reclaim Your Dreams”. In it, you’ll learn the three steps that I use every day to connect with the miracle that lies at the heart of the mundane. This miracle, and the opportunities that it brings, surround us every day, suffusing the smallest of things with honest-to-goodness joy.
Don’t deny yourself the true happiness that comes from knowing that you are living the life that you were always meant to lead. Download my audio training today and fill your life with the natural happiness that comes with authenticity!
Join Panache Desai every morning and for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
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