The Sacred Journey…Four Stages of Development
Once you embark on the spiritual path and begin to practice it regularly, there will come a time - it may be a few months or perhaps even a few years - but there will come a time when you realize nothing is as it once was and there is no going back.
"Most of what you and I think is wrong. Further, until you question your faith, you have no faith. At best, you hold someone else's beliefs and, when you do, you almost always will confuse those beliefs for authentic faith. But it's not the same."
Faith not forged in the crucible of your own questions isn't faith at all...it's just a collection of beliefs you carry around, like school kids carry backpacks. Those beliefs will become about as burdensome, too.
Because they're not your own. You must examine all the things you've been taught to believe...and, remember, the greatest gift you could give to your children is permission to question the belief system you're following."
Your responsibility as a parent isn't to walk a spiritual path for your children but to walk your own path, allowing them to observe you...to question you...but, ultimately, they must walk their own path. Just dragging your kids to church every Sunday in hopes that, by osmosis, they'll pick up what their "supposed" to believe is nonsense. There is nothing they're "supposed" to believe. Instead, they're supposed to be given permission to believe as their heart dictates.
You concern yourself with your own journey. Let them observe the transformation they see taking place in you. They'll learn by observation...contemplation...questions...and the like which path to undertake.
4. Cultivate the art of meditating
You can call it prayer if you're a Christian. I choose not to because the word prayer, although popularly used by my fellow Christians, is too laden with words. And, most praying is empty of words.
How do I know this?
Consider the prayer life of Jesus. He was frequently withdrawing from the crowd in order to pray. Meditate more likely. I doubt he said many things. In fact, the most enriching experience of prayer is when you reach that place where words are not necessary...that place where your mind is empty of noise-making, which is just the stringing together of words, ideas, concepts, memories and anticipations.
This is not easy. In fact, because we've been taught in this western culture that value is found in busyness and that "an idle mind is the devil's playground," we think it smart...even wise...to fill our minds, as well as our lives, with a lot of busyness.
It's silly. It's not right. And, it is just the opposite of what virtually every spiritual tradition teaches. An idle mind is not the devil's playground. The devil's real playground, which soon turns into a battleground, is the busy mind.
So, you have much practice to do...much discipline you'll likely have to bring to this field in order to master the art of meditation. If you will stay with it, however, the day will come, just as in everything related to the sacred journey, when you will experience the sheer bliss associated with the freedom from thought...the quieting of the mind...the interruption, even if only briefly, in the incessant stream of thinking that is your mind and mine.
When you have begun experiencing even slightly the joy of meditation, you will begin to see real changes in how you live.
You will be less bothered by those things that used to irritate you endlessly.
You'll feel much more at peace...inwardly...much more content, too.
You'll recognize the presence of stress more quickly and take mental steps to slow down the body and the mind.
You'll be kinder to others, and to yourself, more in tune with those you love, and they, too, will see the positive changes in you.
You'll be more aware of your surroundings, more present with what is - more connected to now, not the past or future.
You'll be happier, too. Infinitely happier, more content, and aware of a sacred...even Divine presence in everything.
You won't be perfect, however. Just more forgiving...of yourself. And, when you've forgiven yourself, you are able to forgive others. Of everything.
Are you beginning to see the value in the sacred journey?
Of course you do. You would not have read this much of the article if the sacred journey had not started in you already?
You, my friend, have chosen...
Dr. Steve McSwain is an author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher. His books and blogs inspire spiritual seekers around the world. He is a devoted follower of Christ but an interfaith activist as well. He is frequently heard to say, in the words of Mother Teresa, "I love all religions; but I'm IN LOVE with my own." Read more from Dr. McSwain on his blog Your Best Life Ever.