I once read a quote, from Osho I believe, that when asked by a student how one can improve one’s spiritual practice he replied, “First you must drop the term practice and then you must drop the term spiritual.” (Note: I am not necessarily a big fan of Osho the man, or any organized following, but he does relay some excellent observations).
To me this implies that we are inherently spiritual and that ‘practicing to be spiritual’ is akin to a lion (hypothetically speaking) taking 30 minutes out of his or her day to practice ‘being a lion.’ The adage “We are spirits having a human experience” and “You don’t have a spirit, you are a spirit. You have a body,” means just that, so to practice being ‘spiritual’ seems kind of silly considering we’re already spirits!
I believe it is more empowering to change our focus from ‘becoming more spiritual’ to removing the blocks to our awareness of being spirits. We should practice being human, not the other way around. This may seem like a semantic point but it is not, because the belief that we must become more spiritual implies that somehow we are lacking spiritually. We may be lacking as humans in some (or many) ways but since the nature of being human is to be separate and the nature of spirit is to be whole (or connected) it is our belief (the mind) that separates us and leaves us ‘lacking’. When we give up the notion that Spirit is ‘out there’ then we can release the constant searching and just focus on clearing the blocks that the mind places on our true inner nature of spirit/self.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” —Rumi
Now in one sense, and this may be what ‘trips us up’, we are like a bucket of water taken from the ocean that contains the inherent essence of the ocean, but is still not the ocean and not containing the same power, if you will. When that water is poured back into the sea it becomes part of the whole again. Our souls are much the same. We are from the collective of Spirit but are limited in our own separate ego bodies or “buckets.”
A question that many ask is, “How does one have an out of body experience?” Since we are so often in our minds (or ‘in our heads’) a more appropriate question to ask might be, “How does one have an in body experience?” Far too many of us walk around in our heads never experiencing the sensation of having a body! We may intellectually know or occasionally be reminded that we do or in some cases even worship our bodies in a superficial way (which is really more an ego/mind experience) but never actually have an acute awareness of our spirits in our bodies on a daily basis. When we allow our spiritual perfection to shine within we can have a ‘Spirit in a Human Body’ experience.
Which brings us to the ‘practice’ of meditation or more accurately, the purpose of meditation. Meditation helps to tone down the chatter of our thoughts so that simple, quiet, awareness and inner connection to Spirit can be felt and remembered. Think of a room full of people talking loudly and a lone, quiet voice (Spirit) in the middle of it all. With all of the other sounds (thoughts) in the room (your mind) you can’t hear that quiet voice. Meditation helps to quiet the outer voices so that we may hear the answer(s), or the peace, we seek from the voice of spirit that resides deep within us.
Often when meditating we may find that instead of waiting for the answer (or the silence) to present itself the mind will step in and try to “figure it out.” This is (a rather annoying) trick of the mind. An attempt of the small mind/ego’s desire to be in control of the situation, or to be more important than it is, or needs to be. It’s been said that if life were complicated everyone would have it figured out by now. Life is simple in the moment. The mind, far too often, makes it more complicated than it needs to be (an understatement!).
A simple meditation/reminder: This can be done anywhere but is especially effective in a natural setting or environment. If you find yourself rushing ahead and only seeing or thinking, i.e. you are ‘in your head,’ stop what you are doing – walking, thinking, talking – and feel your body. Feel your feet on the earth. Feel the air rushing through your nose and into your lungs. Be aware of your body. Let your mind go and let awareness of these things flow down into your body. In that moment you are connected. Take it in and then release attachment to it. Just feel and experience it in the moment. Repeat often.