The start of a spiritual journey usually marks a significant shift in someone’s life.
More and more people are starting to embrace the spiritual side of life. Nearly 30% of Americans consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” An individual’s spirituality can take many forms and have a wide variety of impacts on their life.
If you’re just beginning your spiritual journey, you may have some questions about who you are and where you’re going. In this post, we’re going to discuss some of the spiritual development stages that you can expect in the coming weeks, months, and years.
Being open to spirituality connects you on a deeper level with the earth and all of its sentient beings. You don’t need to worship a particular deity or follow dogmatic beliefs to be spiritual.
Simply being open to the mysteries of the universe is enough, but it can be disorienting in the beginning. Keep reading, and we’ll try and clear away some of the fog of spiritual development so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
The first phase of any spiritual journey involves an awakening of some kind. It doesn’t have to be enlightenment like that of Shakyamuni, but it may involve a gradual reevaluation of the way you see the world or an experience that causes this change in mindset.
This is both the most exciting point of the spiritual journey and the most confounding. If you’ve never been keen on spiritual ideas before, it will feel like a veil has been pulled to the side. You may feel like you’re finally seeing things the way that they’re meant to be seen but unsure of what to do with it.
What’s most important in this stage is to keep an open heart and mind. You don’t want to dismiss your initial spiritual experience because of old thought patterns. It may be startling, but be gentle and allow yourself to slowly process things in your own time.
As you’re acclimatizing to your new way of thinking, start to read literature from various spiritual backgrounds. Having a diverse array of thinkers at your disposal allows you to see that beliefs that may seem at odds with one another are actually different ways of experiencing the same thing.
You’ll naturally start to develop your own point of view based on what you’ve experienced and what you’ve read. What you spend your time thinking about and doing may change, creating a change in your personal and professional relationships.
During this part of the journey, you may start to feel like you’re losing your grasp on reality, even though you’re seeing things clearer than before. It can get very lonely and isolating during this phase, which is why people refer to it as the “dark night of the soul”.
This is when most spiritual seekers abandon the journey and slowly revert to old habits and thought patterns. All divine masters have gone through this phase, from the Buddha to Christ. Learn more here about these masters and use their lives as inspiration to move on.
If you’re feeling the self-doubt and anxiety that comes with this, it’s important to know that there are better days coming. Be gentle with yourself, and don’t try to fight these feelings. Face them head, and you’ll come out stronger on the other side.
Getting through the worst of the storm will require mental fortitude, but it helps to study various spiritual methods as well. You have to experiment with different activities to see what works for you.
Some form of meditation is something that most spiritual traditions share, from Christian prayer to Japanese zazen. Yoga is another thing widely practiced in the west, but its roots are in the Vedas of ancient India. It’s all about finding something that brings you closer to that feeling of awakening your true self.
If you’re going to find the right activity to enhance your spirituality, you have to be open to new experiences. At the same time, you have to be culturally sensitive. Some of these practices are deeply rooted in their cultures, so it’s important to do your research before diving in head first.
As you practice meditation, yoga, or even taking psychedelic substances, your consciousness will expand. You’ll start to see the interconnectedness of all beings and become more comfortable with your place in it. This awareness only comes by spiritually growing through previous experiences mentioned above.
You may feel a sense of calm in place of anxiety and self-doubt. Little things that may have bothered you in the past will feel trivial. You’ll come to accept everything as it is and feel equanimous about your own life experiences.
A lot of the time, this stage of spiritual development involves a shift in life priorities. You may decide that you want to see the world or go on a retreat.
There may also be an urge to help people see things how you do. Remember that everyone is at different stages of their own journey and may not be ready to hear what you have to say.
Letting Go and Tuning In
The final stages of spiritual development involve surrendering yourself to the ebbs and flows of life. An understanding that you’re a small part of the universe will pervade your entire outlook. You’ll cease to cling to pleasant things or avoid unpleasant things, and you’ll find joy in the moment-to-moment experiences.
Spiritual awakening isn’t something that effortlessly sticks with you. It’s crucial that you nurture this feeling so that it becomes intuition. The goal is to turn fleeting spiritual experiences into daily ones, then daily ones into hourly ones, and so on until it’s perpetual.
Taking Spiritual Development Stages Slow and Steady
Everyone works through these spiritual development stages at their own pace. Some people find instant enlightenment, while others spend their whole lives seeking it. However it happens for you, it’s important to stay true to your experience and simply enjoy the ride.
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