Spirituality has become a subject which over the last few decades has gradually entered into the mainstream of human thought and experience. Confined only to a limited number of practitioners and well-wishers for the larger part of the previous century, nowadays with movies like The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret and Conversations With God coming out at a regular basis, a new trend in human thinking and striving is revealed. More and more people seem to be looking for a glimpse or a taste of God - or the higher reality that name embodies. We are longing for a spiritual experience.
A spiritual experience may consist of happiness, joy, peace, bliss or a feeling of oneness and wholeness with life, nature or the universe. To have a spiritual experience is not a difficult task, if you are prepared to make a little personal effort. It may happen that such an experience occurs spontaneously, out of the blue, without us trying to invoke it. In such a case we should take it as an unconditional blessing from Above. But there are certain things we can do to expedite our spiritual progress and have spiritual experiences on a more regular and rewarding basis.
Prayer and meditation are tools with which we can accelerate our spiritual progress enormously. Both are ways to communicate with that higher, divine energy that is both deep within us and all around us. Whereas prayer is like a flame rising upwards, meditation is an expanding silence coming from deep within. The difference between prayer and meditation has been clearly and lucidly expressed by spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy: "When we pray, we speak and God listens; when we meditate, we listen and God talks."
It takes some practise, but anyone who is sincere and serious can achieve amazing results from daily practising prayer and meditation after a mere three weeks. We feel an inner calm and inner strength slowly developing inside us. This inner calm is the best possible antidote for stress. Our sleep will become deeper and in our waking hours we will be more conscious and aware of what is happening. We will see that through prayer and meditation the quality of our life gradually and unmistakably improves.
It is more difficult to meditate than to pray. Almost everybody knows how to pray, but meditation is something that does not come as natural to us. In meditation the main thing is to keep the mind calm and quiet and not to allow thoughts to enter into the mind. This may be very difficult indeed, especially in the beginning, but through regular practise the mind is gradually brought under control. The silence between two thoughts then begins to increase up to a point where we will eventually experience complete inner silence. This inner silence is the essence of meditation.
"Meditation is communication with silence," as Sri Chinmoy states.
Prayer and meditation are part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life is the life that is consciously striving and aspiring to reach higher levels of consciousness. In that elevated state of consciousness the communion with the higher reality becomes clearer, more inspiring and more fulfilling. We start to see a deeper meaning in life, hidden in the commonest of things.
The most important thing in practising spirituality is never to give up. And if we are willing to give it a try, Sri Chinmoy has encouraging words for us:
"Try to live the life of spiritual discipline for a day, a single day! You are bound to succeed."
The above content was written by Abhinabha Tangerman and is available under version 2.5 of Creative Commons' by-nc-nd license (Attribution/Noncommercial/No Derivative Works). Attribution: www.srichinmoybio.co.uk. To post a comment about an entry, send me an email and I may or may not post your comment (with or without editing)