Many assert they would die for someone. It could be their spouse, their children, or a cause. I feel this way about those I love, as well as what I believe in. There is no doubt in my mind I would give my life for these things. However, what I have come to realize is dying for a loved one or a cause is the easy part; it's much harder to live for them.
There have been times I am so filled with love and adoration towards my fiance or children, but minutes later I can be impatient and unkind in some manner. What happened to the valiant knight who would slay the dragon for them? If they don't get into the car fast enough, I'm ready to throw them to the dragon.
The true battle is within yourself, not with others
How many times have you spent and hour meditating only to give someone the finger five minutes into your commute? At times like these, I'm scrambling to find out where my inner Christ or Buddha went. So much for we are all one with the Universe. Our times of reading, prayer and meditation mean little to nothing if they do not lead us to loving and compassionate acts. Furthermore, talk is cheap. When our loved one's are imperfect, who comes forward the ego or our Higher Self.
The true battle is always within ourselves not between us and the other. I have found two areas I continually work on to be more capable of living and responding in the way I aspire to towards those in my life. The first is a commitment to my individual emotional and spiritual growth. This must be done with an ongoing attitude of humility. Never from the motivation to elevate yourself above others. If you believe you have arrived, you're in the back of the line. I will always have room for growth, and this excites me. There are so many great methods and resources for accomplishing this purpose. Be open-minded and use whatever means most resonates with you. Moreover, don't impose your way onto others or allow them to make you feel inadequate in any way because you don't practice theirs.
Meditation is essential to becoming more loving
The other essential discipline is a daily practice of some form of mediation. There are forms of this in every major world religion. There must be something to it right? In addition, neuroscience informs us of the importance of this practice to achieve neural integration, or what we would refer to as optimal mental health or brain functioning. Achieving this goal is the biological basis for attaining your Higher Self. In my opinion, it is impossible to obtain to your Higher Self, Unity with Christ, Buddha nature or whatever term you want to use without consistently engaging in some form of mindful practice.
It is easiest for us to be loving and compassionate towards strangers, acquaintances, or a group of people we may be speaking to. It is hardest with those we love. They affect us more deeply than anyone else. As a result, they unlock our deepest emotional and relational wounds. They are the true test of how we are doing spiritually. Never forget that! That is one of the primary reasons they exist in our lives - to help us heal and grow to become more loving.
True spirituality increases love and deepens relationships
Sometimes we grow more spiritually by putting away our 'spiritual' practices for a minute and having difficult conversations with those we love or resolving a conflict in a respectful manner. There is a story I remember hearing as a child where Jesus encouraged an individual to leave the temple and go repair his relationship with the person he had injured. True spirituality is always for the purpose of increasing our ability to love and deepening relationship.
A final word: always approach your spiritual and emotional growth and healing with patience, love, and forgiveness for yourself. You are worthy of these qualities. Furthermore, you will not be able to send them out to others and the world if you are deficient in them.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.