Can you recall some major turning points in your life? Moments that shifted how you thought or looked at the world? One of these moments happened for me in my 20s, when a friend suggested I read "Autobiography of a Yogi." This book triggered a major turning point for me, shifting my spiritual focus from the training and disillusion of my Catholic upbringing into a new understanding of a spiritual journey and drawing me into unfamiliar Eastern theories and practices. Eventually I became a teacher of Eastern spiritual perspectives.
For some a spiritual turning point is an introduction to new values and life changes that support compassion and peace. For some it is a determination to travel to India or some other “promised land” to meet a teacher, guru, monk or significant guide. Or it could be clarity about leaving such a place, even when it means breaking a commitment. This can plunge seekers deeply into their personal resources.
For others it is the simple beginning of a meditation or sitting class, whether it be in Buddhist or Hindu communities, or with someone who has touched your spirit like Eckhart Tolle or Adyashanti, or a Christian contemplation class using centering prayer. These become inward-turning points, inviting you to a new stillness and a place you may come to call your center.
There are many turning points along the way to self-realization that may arise as your meditation practice, capacity for contemplation and inner depth stabilizes. Here are a few possibilities:
• You may choose to change your lifestyle, drop an old belief system or find a career that more clearly reflects your values.
• You may realize you need to branch out and explore another teaching or practice.
• You may discover something within you has dropped away or changed so that you are more peaceful, patient, loving or compassionate toward yourself and others.
• You may suddenly activate energy or vibration that moves up from the base of the spine or the feet and begins to unsettle your old ways of being, bringing both challenges and bliss.
• You may have a startling new revelation or movement of consciousness into a new perspective or even a sense of unity with the world or the cosmos.
• You may realize it is time to align your lifestyle more with your new perceptions and move out of toxic or dysfunctional patterns and relationship or move toward a more genuine expression of yourself.
Spiritual awakening is not (as some imagine) a glamorous transformation, making someone into an all-powerful mystic who can work miracles. It is not living on another plane of experience outside of your body. It is more like a shedding of everything within you that is blocking your access to the clear and authentic expression of your true nature, which is essentially at peace and capable of seeing the radiance in the simple things of life.
Awakening does not demand that you go forth and change the world — perhaps this was so for Jesus or Buddha, but fortunately it is not meant for everyone to become a famous prophet or found a religion. Awakening does not demand anything. Instead it presents opportunities to know where you might find a way that is congruent, and follow the flow of life that leads you to doing what you uniquely are meant to do.
Think about the significant moves in your life. They may have been choices, inspirations or shoves from an unknown source. What did they bring forth in you? We can keep our selves open to turning points. We can’t dictate them, although the small inner voice asking for change may lead us to our next step. Life offers turning points — it is the way we humans grow into the fullness of our potential. Usually they are only seen in retrospect and, hopefully, with appreciation.
When embraced they lead us to peace.
Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. founder of Shanti River Center in Ashland, recently published The Kundalini Guide and The Awakening Guide, available on Amazon and Kindle. The above is excerpted from her blog at www.shantiriver.wordpress.com. Send 600 to 700 word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan firstname.lastname@example.org.