5 Ways to Cultivate Enlightenment
Barbara-Lynn Freed, Contributor
1. The Benefits of Personal Responsibility
Accepting responsibility for your life can be profoundly transformational, as it enables you to live consciously and be in charge of everything that happens to you. The keys to this enlightened way of life are through self-examination with a commitment to change. When you take responsibility for all your decisions, mistakes and life situations, you generate freedom from the cycle of blaming others for your problems and becoming a victim.
By harnessing self-awareness, clear perception of who you are and conscious choice, you become empowered to change the course of your life. In this way you can understand your weaknesses, build on your strengths, and make necessary improvements to your character.
By taking full responsibility for all of your actions and non-actions, and by owning all of your personal issues, you will empower yourself and move towards creating a fruitful life.
2. Trusting Your Inner Authority
Cultivating self-knowledge, self-understanding and self-acceptance are critical to developing your Inner Authority. When we trust our inner knowing and act accordingly, we begin to align with our Spirit and embrace spiritual growth.
However, this simple action is sometimes difficult to grasp, for as children we are socialized to look outside ourselves for answers. Parents, teachers and advertisements give our lives direction by enticing us to disconnect from our inner guidance.
So how do we find our way home?
Because we are each unique in our needs, what is true for one person may not be true for another. By paying attention to your gut feelings, instincts and what your body is suggesting it wants, the process of uncovering who you are will begin. As you practice and discover what you need and want, you will develop more confidence, wisdom, and harmony in your life.
When we take the time to slow down and contemplate our priorities, we nourish, support and encourage our true nature to shine. By fostering life-decisions with our Inner Authority, we open ourselves to living consciously, creating our own future and cultivating lasting relationships. We also begin to grow spiritually by aligning with the Divine spark within.
3. Authentic Vulnerability
Most people associate vulnerability with the disadvantage of being defenseless, fragile, weak, and susceptible to emotional pain and suffering. However, this is a misconception, as Authentic or True Vulnerability is really a source of our greatest spiritual strength, integrity and wisdom.
When we have the willingness to step out of our comfort zone to accept challenges, walk toward new experiences, or take risks, we begin to allow vulnerability to enter our lives, and in turn, discover our mental, emotional and spiritual strengths and limitations, while allowing personal growth and life enrichment to occur.
By working with our Heart’s Intelligence and accepting our human frailties, we can begin to see that Authentic Vulnerability can open our eyes to new perceptions of life’s circumstances. For True Vulnerability inherently commands respect, elicits compassion, connects us with the Divine, disarms others and creates a state of Beingess where deeply rooted healing can take place for us and all our relationships.
As we progress along our spiritual path, we begin to honor our inner wisdom more consistently, and our ego gives way to true spiritual presence and compassion. Here, where open acceptance and self-responsibility are the norm, our awakened spirit can bathe in the state of Authentic Vulnerability and be an open book for all to see.
4. How to Cultivate Unconditional Love and Forgiveness
We are all familiar with Personal Love as a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection we have toward people, pets, or treasured items in our lives. Often used as a term of endearment, we usually see personal love as an intense, emotional attachment or attraction to those we care about. With personal love we can lapse into our lower emotions and hold grudges against others, or concentrate on suffering. In doing so we hinder the effectiveness of our love in relationships, as well as, our own wellbeing.
However, if we allow ourselves to focus on Divine or Unconditional Love, we can learn to look at our glass of life, as being half full, instead of being half empty. In this way we can learn to transform our lower emotions of anger, jealousy, envy and greed into something positive. Pure, Unconditional Love, works without expectation, or attachment to the outcome, and asks for nothing in return. It’s radiant light can resist and overcome every other energy it encounters, for it is the binding force of the universe.
So how do we bridge the gap between Personal Love and Unconditional Love? The first step in this mighty process is learning how to love and accept yourself for who you are.
The second step is to expect love in your life, in all your relationships, and with everyone else you encounter. Here we must remember the Universal Law that says energy follows thought. If we think it, it will happen! Finding goodness in others will help you achieve your own goals, by attracting the same to you. The third step is to work for the highest good of all, by surrendering all your expectations to Spirit (or your favorite Divine Deity).
Obviously, you will need to do an enormous amount of inner work to find true, Unconditional Love in your life. However, an exercise I have found most valuable in shifting my vibration and consciousness is to silently or verbally chant Divine Love for five minutes to an indefinite amount of time. You will be amazed at how quickly your mood shifts to one of peace, and the outcome of any situation becomes favorable to all concerned. When we have Love in our heart, life becomes a joy to behold!
The act of Forgiveness helps us to develop and nourish Love in our lives. Releasing blame and judgment of others is imperative to succeed, for Forgiveness is a spiritual initiative grounded in the humility of accepting that we don’t always need to be right.
When we use our emotions or intellect as a rational explanation to forgive, we fail to see the very essence of what we are trying to achieve. Forgiveness, being born from the heart, and not from the head, can teach us that we are all reflections of each other. In this way, we use the spiritual energy of Love to assess our relationships by looking for similarities in people, rather than differences.
5. Developing True Compassion
True Compassion develops after we have mastered the art of Forgiveness and learned to Love others unconditionally, for Compassion is an action of the transpersonal self. In this state of Beingness, we do not get entangled in the drama and emotions of the present challenge. Rather, we open our hearts to the people and situations at hand, without emotional attachment to pity, sorrow or suffering. Anything less, would be either sympathy or empathy.
By sympathizing (being in emotional agreement), or empathizing (feeling another’s emotions or pain), we become part of the problem, instead of part of the solution. For feeling another’s suffering, does not relieve their suffering. Only in a detached state can we truly hold space for that person to heal, or change their life. Practicing true compassion for another often means simply being present with them in silence.
Like Forgiveness, however, we must first find Compassion for ourselves, before we can truly feel Compassion for others. I learned this from a Tibetan Lama many years ago during a family crisis, where helping out, would have left me devastated emotionally, mentally and psychically. Rimpoche advised me that in this situation, I needed to have Compassion for myself, and that like a good warrior I needed to know when to advance and when to retreat. By following his guidance, I was able to release my feelings of guilt for abandoning my family in a time of need, and later, give them Compassion from afar.
About the Author
Barbara-Lynn Freed is the Founder and Facilitator of the Center for Transformational Studies where she helps people heal their core issues through her twenty-year old spiritual healing practice called Awakening the Heart!, and her Transformational Astrology readings, that focus on your Karmic challenges, evolutionary goals and your life’s true purpose. She also helps shamanic students connect with the spirits of nature through her three-year, cross-cultural, shamanic apprenticeship, called Resurrecting the Old Ways: Walking the Land & Honoring the Spirits in Right Relationship. Please visit her website for more information at http://TransformationalStudies.com.
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