Happiness Is Not A Place You Arrive At When All The Problems Disappear, It’s An Attitude That That Carries You Through The Good And The Bad! “Luke Miller”
For the first time in my life I just consciously processed myself not feeling anxious. This was what I thought just a few weeks ago as a walked around Stratford shopping centre in the UK.
Don’t get me wrong I have not really been all that anxious for around 5-6 years now and a lot less anxious in the last 7 or 8 years, but this is the first time I have noticed it.
It’s a little like when you have a cough or cold, you know it is there when you are coughing and sneezing, but once it leaves, you don’t give it a moment’s thought. Or when you get bitten by a mosquito, at the time there is nothing more important than that itchy swollen bite. But a few days later it is completely forgotten about.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget even the harshest and most hostile times of our lives when those struggles pass (I suppose this is a good thing.) But in that moment while walking through hundreds of people in a shopping centre something just clicked and made me realise that this environment no longer makes me feel like an edgy nervous wreck.
It was not always that way, growing up in Lewisham in south east London, in my circle everyone was always drunk or on drugs (myself included) and I was surrounded by wannabe gangsters and drug dealers (again myself included.)
If this was not enough to make me feel jittery we had people pulling out knives and robbing us, trying to steal our girlfriends and there was a lot of testosterone flying about, with people trying to prove their toughness and this was when I was with friends.
You go out a little further and you have rival groups of people trying to come into our area and flex their muscles. But as part of the group if you run, you better expect to get it from your friends next time they see you. This hostile environment was a breeding ground for anxiety and a great foundation for a jumpy, tense life of looking over my shoulder.
When I got to my early twenties I had to separate myself from this lifestyle, because I felt the overwhelming need to succeed and do something significant with my life. I was certainly not cut out for the nine to five life and the idea of drink, drugs and partying all week was starting to not look all that exciting anymore.
I met some great people during those times and I really did have a good time (some of the time) but while I don’t regret my path in any way I knew I badly needed a change. Call it what you like, but when life calls, you have to answer or face living a life full of regret.
There is a lot of life to share and I cannot possibly do it all in one blog post, but after 2 weeks in Vegas and a 3 month year old baby to look after I decided I needed to do something to get my life in order.
I will get to how I got into spirituality in a moment, because I have a strange story of how it happened. But first let me just say I am not the spiritual type. I was into boxing, getting drunk and gambling.
Not having any money or any real direction I was trying to start a business selling experience days and being that I am a self-diagnosed ADHD space cadet, a few issues had arisen as a result.
At one time I was the type of person who would go into the supermarket to buy bread and milk and come out with no milk or bread and 15 varieties of mango chutney.
You can imagine how this translates in business, which takes place from the comfort of my own home and laptop, without any accountability. I would start off trying to create a Gmail account and end up simultaneously reading articles, watching YouTube video’s and buying more chutney on Amazon, with about 57 tabs all open at once. Not very productive!
It was in fact so bad, that at times I would shout abuse at myself- “Focus Luke you idiot, what the hell is wrong with you!” Demoralising myself in the process.
As you can probably guess, my experience days business was not the most successful venture I have taken on in my life and in a bid to learn to focus I took to the internet (probably opening another 57 tabs in the process) this is when I found meditation and started to practice using binaural beats, they had a great impact on my focus which was obviously great, but I actually started to realise that there was a lot more to life.
Meditation opened up my mind to a completely different way of thinking and I soon started to realise that my imperfections only made me human and the things that I didn’t like about myself where not all that bad.
I really started to focus more on acceptance than change and more on unlearning, than learning. I realised the reason I had such huge feelings of anxiety where not due to me needing to change my personality, but my need to change my environment, perception and behaviour.
There were a lot of questions that came up as a result of my spiritual practice, many individual to my own circumstances. But here are 4 questions that you will need to answer for spiritual clarity-
What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is often mistaken for religion and while religious ideology is spiritual in nature, spirituality is a much broader term and something like creating music is just as spiritual as religion.
On an individual level spirituality is a connection to the true essence of yourself, your inclinations and the things that feel natural to you. If you feel drawn to certain activities or a certain way of life that is your spirit guiding you.
Take your childhood for example, you may have been drawn to a musical instrument or a certain creative activity or sport. That is what spirituality is- that guide or intuition inside of you that regulates your interests and preferences.
On a collective level spirituality is socialising with the right people, being a good human being and treating people with love, care and compassion.
Do I Need Spirituality?
You may not call it spirituality, but we all need it. It’s the foundations for good health. When you are spiritually connected life is a lot easier.
Spiritual disconnection is in my opinion one of the biggest culprits for pain and suffering in the world.
You have people in the wrong jobs, doing things they feel they should do, rather than the things they want to do.
You have people who commit their entire lives to causes that have such little connection with what it is they stand for and while a lot of people may not feel that hard done by, you usually find that everyone has their breaking point and when you live against your true nature for too long, it will eventually become apparent.
Your spiritual health supports your emotional, mental and physical health and when you become truly connected you realise that you can become emotionally regulated, mentally strong and physically healthy by just simply doing what you love.
Is Spirituality Difficult?
There is a paradoxical answer to that question, so yes and no. My number 1 piece of advice would be to have faith and trust the process.
It can be difficult to find out what you stand for, what your values are and who you truly are. Personally I am a lot closer to knowing myself than I was when I started, but I am still looking and learning .
One of the things I have learnt is that you should always be open and always be a student. It can be hard to challenge your long held world beliefs, but it’s harder to hide from the truth when you are spiritually aware.
Spirituality holds up the mirror and don’t worry too much because when you see your reflection you will usually find that you like a lot more about yourself than you think you do.
But you will also see your flaws and you will have to make some big changes if you want to live in line with your values. So to answer this question- spirituality is both the most easy and the most difficult thing you can do!
How Do I Get Started?
The first thing you need to do is to connect to your values, you can do this by listing what is important to you and then asking yourself why.
If money is important to you, why is it important?-
So you can support your family?
Because it gives you freedom?
Because it makes you feel significant?
You will find your values not by finding what’s important to you, but why it is.
Once you have your values, you can update them from time to time, but a lot will remain the same. Think of it like a blueprint to life, when you have a choice between opportunity A and opportunity B, you go to your values and see which one matches up the best, and if none of them match up you know this opportunity is not for you.
The second thing is a consistent spiritual practice- Meditation is great, it may not suit you personally and is not the only way to practice spirituality. But in my opinion it is the best way. Remember meditation is just practice, what you are practicing is being present and you get to do this with no distractions; the goal is to eventually be able to replicate this presence when there are distractions and that’s why they call it practice.
I would also label hobbies under spiritual practice, find something you can do on your own. Be it working out, playing a musical instrument or painting a picture. Something that takes you away and sends you into a state of pure consciousness. If you can find time for this every day, it will have a similar effect to meditating, but the key is consistency, 5-10 minutes a day is great.
Again there are a million ways that you can find more spirituality in your life; the key is finding what works for you. If you can connect with your values it will become a lot more clear which road you should take.
For now my advice would be to set a time when free and start a spiritual practice today!
I hope you have enjoyed reading as this post is a little more personal than my usual stuff! So let me know what spiritual practice you have in place or want to get in place by leaving me a comment below and if you think your friends, social media followers or subscribers could benefit from hearing this go right ahead and share it!
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