Spiritually conscious living is intentional living. It is at once lofty and practical. To live deliberately requires us to discern the sacred wholeness of life, to realize the nature of ultimate Reality and our relationship to it. Contemplate the omnipresence of Spirit and realize that nothing can be separate from it. Then spiritual practice becomes all that we do to live awakened, healthy lives.
Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Discard the false belief that there is a separation between spiritual and material life. Perform duties skillfully. All work is purifying if done with the right motive…In everything you do, express your limitless soul qualities.”
It’s practical when we recognize the spiritual life as simply our life here and now, with spiritual practices as our support for living consciously.
Often people yearn for a spiritual life and wish they had more time to pursue it.
Reframing the Mind’s Perspective
When the mental line that has been drawn between our ordinary daily life and our spiritual life and practice has been erased, our days come alive with Spirit and with infinite possibility for personal growth and deeper realization. Erasing that line is not difficult. It is just seeing that our daily life is where spiritual realization occurs and is lived out. How we live is our spiritual practice. What we discover in that process is our realization.
Two key insights help us erase the false line between so-called “spiritual” and “material” life. The first is the realization that life can only be spiritual since one infinite unbounded Reality expresses as all that is. Second, is to understand our life purpose.
Living Deliberately and Living in Harmony
We are here to awaken to the spiritual truth of our being and live in harmony with it. Recognizing we are spiritual beings, we strive to live in the way that is worthy of us and that allows our innate divine potentials to be actualized. This focus requires dedication, discernment, and devotion.
The most efficient way for us to live is with dedication. Once we know what our purpose is, we can dedicate ourselves to fulfilling it. This is the foundation for intentional living. We do what we need to do to stay aligned with our highest goal. This becomes our spiritual practice.
Whether it is daily meditation; or discerning how to apply the restraints of non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, right use of our energy, and nonattachment; or the observances of purity, contentment, study, self-discipline and surrender of the sense of separate self; we use every opportunity to bring a spiritually based perspective to our actions.
Cultivating Discernment through Self Reflection and Reframing Our Inner Dialogue
Discernment is how we use these practices in the heat of the moment of everyday life encounters. We can become more skillful with this by training ourselves to ask some new questions, questions directly support of our life purpose.
One of the most simple, but profound and effective, questions to ask is simply this: Will this bring me closer to realizing my goal or will it take me farther from it? Will this choice support my deepest intention to live a spiritually conscious life or will it add confusion and distract me from my goal?
Simply reframing questions we routinely ask ourselves can bring forth greater discernment and provide more support for intentional living. For example, I noticed that when hunger arises it is much better to ask myself the question: How do I want to feel? Rather than: What do I want to eat? What I want to eat may, or may not, be directly supportive of my goal to be more awake and aware.
If the response comes directly from the senses without passing through an effective filter of the faculty of discernment, or the deeper wisdom of the soul, it would likely take me farther from my goal. I might choose food that is convenient but not conducive to my overall well-being. If I ask, “How do I want to feel” it helps me remember that sattvic foods (fresh, natural foods with more life force) support my experience of a clear mind, vital energy, and lightness in my body. Besides satisfying my hunger, I want what I eat to support my awareness goals. Making sattvic food choices will do that for me. Approached in this way, what I think about, choose to eat, and how I eat it, all become spiritual practice for me.
Reframing Questions as a Reminder of Our Spiritual Goal: Preya and Shreya
Reframing our questions to be direct reminders of our goal calls our discernment into play. It helps us pause and consider our choices in light of what we most deeply desire. Yogic teachings refer to this choice as being between preya and shreya—between what is pleasurable and what is beneficial. If we are devoted to our goal to live a healthy, awakened, vital life, then choosing what is most beneficial is natural and easy.
The great yogi sage, Lahiri Mahasaya, said: Self-discipline, will power, noble desire, controlled speech, devotion, steadfastness, courage, patience, cheerfulness, and simplicity and moderation in natural living are some of the basic prerequisites of a spiritual and happy life. The senses should be used to fulfill their normal function, always with spiritual idealism while abiding in God-communion. Perceptions of the phenomenal world become spiritual experiences when the senses are inspired and governed by the soul.
A verse from the Tao te Ching cautions us that “the great way is easy; yet people prefer the side paths.”
Devotion to living a holy life, a spiritually awakened, vital, healthy, fulfilled life keeps us on track. Spiritually conscious living is the great way, where life as we live it is our way of awakening.
We avoid being distracted from our goal of Self- and God-realization through intentional living. Every day is a day to practice. Every day is a day to realize.