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I had a friend who was interested in spiritual development, but didn’t know where or how to begin. Her husband tried to help her by giving her a book about meditation. The next time I saw her, she was quite discouraged.
She said the book recommended several hours of meditation to be done daily prior to and after work, and not to expect any significant results for at least five years.
I tried to reassure her that there are many other avenues requiring less of a time commitment and not to give up. What the author suggested was simply not a good fit for her.
I did, however, agree with what he said about the time it takes to see progress. In our modern day society we want instant results and something for nothing, but anyone with life experience knows the best things in life don’t come easily.
Spiritual growth is no exception, and five years is an insignificant amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Though there are those rare few who have spontaneous awakenings, most people grow in a gradual fashion, and growth spurts often come after steady practice. Usually the improvements are so slight that they are almost imperceptible.
Only when we take the time to compare our current state to who we were in the past do we see that we have been changing for the better.
When we make the conscious choice to develop spiritually and put effort into the transformation, we are stepping out on faith. Perhaps we met someone who radiates an aura of peace, or were inspired by a book written by an advanced soul. Maybe something deep inside simply knows that there is much more inside to be discovered.
So we attend lectures, make lifestyle changes, and go to yoga classes and retreats. We observe, reflect, journal, research, and meditate with the goal to become a beacon of love and remain unruffled by life’s changes. Yet, in spite of the desire for growth, we still get angry when someone takes our parking space or worry about our financial security.
When these feelings arise, it is easy to become disheartened and feel like all of this effort is for naught. We have done enough work to understand intellectually that these feelings are not coming from our higher self, but we can’t seem to live up to our own expectations.
Traditional teachers have long taught that the ego is stubborn and overcoming it requires time and dedication. The schools of thought who embrace reincarnation even say that perfecting the soul typically takes not years, but lifetimes, and ongoing peace only comes with decades of serious practice.
For those on this path, it is understood that spiritual growth is a lifestyle requiring ongoing work and vigilance. Again, these concepts can be overwhelming and even hard to swallow, especially for the newcomer.
However, the most dependable guides who operate from integrity all say the same thing- evolving is a process and it requires patience and persistence. Some techniques yield quicker results than others, but anyone promising a miracle cure is not to be trusted.
When we become impatient with ourselves, we are operating out of ego. We are choosing to be critical or frustrated over what we lack rather than being happy with where we are at.
Being impatient is saying, “Now is not good enough”, and fundamentally, “I am not good enough”. It is fueled by doubt that we will ever get to where we want to be.
This type of thinking sends us into a vicious cycle of discontent where we either push much too hard for results, become apathetic, or give up in disgust or despair.
Being content with our progress is being in tune with our higher wisdom. It is being able to acknowledge the effort we are expending while simultaneously keeping the goal in mind without clinging to the achievement of it. It is also trusting ourselves, our teacher, our method enough to know that we are doing the right thing and there is no need to fuss.
Most importantly, it is recognizing that our internal perfection is a never changing state, no matter what we perceive.
Being patient is a manifestation of love- it is a form of kindness and compassion. It is a much easier way to be and simply cultivating this quality brings much greater peace. The counter intuitive result of practicing with patience is speed. The less we grumble and stress ourselves, the better the energy flows and the more changes that occur.
So be patient and be tenacious. You will be glad you put in the effort. Over time, the seeds you plant will blossom. Before you know it, being cut off in traffic just won’t get under your skin anymore, and you’ll stop stressing over having enough money to pay the bills.