How to Talk About Your Spiritual Growth with Others
Without hurting your progress
One of the biggest challenges any spiritual aspirant faces is the heightened sense of detachment from the world. This is a natural stage in a person’s spiritual life when they can no longer relate to their older ways of thinking or to what society lays out for them.
In fact, it’s a natural part of any kind of growth. As you grow into higher and higher ideals, the lower ideals stop making sense to you.
You can’t understand anymore why people do certain things that bring them suffering. You realize that there’s a better way to live that produces happiness and joy.
It’s a beautiful state to be in. Perhaps you’re starting to meditate more deeply or understanding reality in a way you never did before.
Yet, it comes with its own set of problems — of which the main problem is to live in this world peacefully while still expressing your spiritual nature.
But why can’t you fully be your spiritual self with everyone? Because not everyone understands it. And people fear what they don’t understand. If you go too overboard with your ideas, trying to convert every person you talk to, you’ll be left with no one.
It’s truly an odd experience. You are leaving your old habits and tendencies aside to adopt a new model of living. But your friends and family think you’re going through an existential crisis.
They think you’re losing your mind whereas, in reality, you’ve just found yourself again.
In some cases, a spiritual change can seem like a rebirth to most people. If a person drastically mends his ways to conform with higher truths, it’s hard to believe that he ever lived a different life.
So how do you navigate these changes in your life? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some suggestions.
Decide If You Really Want to Talk About It
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” — Matthew (7:6)
It’s the nature of joy to share itself.
When I first came across meditation and various yogic, spiritual teachings, I was absorbing them like a sponge. Day and night, I’d think about different topics. I was intoxicated with these ideas wondering why did I not learn them before.
Naturally, I wanted to share it with everyone. My friends, families as well as my readers online (Yes, you!).
And while I thought it’s going to be all roses, it was quite the opposite. People start to think (literally sometimes) that you’re going crazy. The fact that you don’t want a big fat car or pursue a cushy job with a large paycheck doesn’t make sense to them.
The fact that you want to be a vegetarian, not watch as many movies, write and meditate even on a weekend, go for silent retreats, never party, not listen to music, etc is just out of their ‘paygrade’ so to say.
The fact of the matter is this — they can’t understand what you’re going through. And as I said, you fear and resist what you don’t understand. This simple lesson can be seen in the life of every great saint — from Jesus to Joan of Arc to Teresa of Avila.
Their spiritual strength was beyond the level of understanding of most people. But to reform the lives of people they had to come out and give glory to the teachings. Yet, since most people didn’t understand them, they were condemned and in the worst case, crucified.
I’m not saying you’ll be crucified! But if you talk too openly about your spiritual growth, you can end up being demotivated.
If you are not strong enough, you can succumb to your friends or family trying to pull you out of the ‘mess’ they think you’re in.
Talk Only with Your Spiritual Guides
Going through a spiritual awakening is a confusing experience. Don’t confuse yourself further by talking to people who’re not at the same (or higher) level of consciousness as you.
They might be your family and want good for you. But they won’t have your spiritual interests in mind. With their strong beliefs about the world, they can throw you off the path that you courageously decided to pursue.
At best these things will sound too ‘woo-woo’ to them. It’s not their fault also, they just don’t know. Even a therapist will not be able to adequately help you in the matter. After all, psychiatry or therapy never produced a saint!
I’m fortunate to have teachers and guides who are more spiritually aware than me. They’re further on the path that I’m walking on, and can guide me through problems.
They also provide a joyful refuge when this world enforces its materialistic beliefs on me. I can talk freely about my spiritual ideas and experiences with them — something I don’t do even with the people closest to me.
If you don’t have such people around you, find them. But till then, refrain from talking about such things with ‘normal’ people.
Root Yourself Firmly in Your Beliefs
If you’re unsure about your own beliefs, it’s easier to be swayed by what people are trying to tell you. It has everything to do with your confidence and the sense of power that you feel within yourself.
Again, remember that the majority of the earth’s population isn’t going through a spiritual journey. They might not even know it exists. All they know is the beliefs they were taught by society and their environment.
If you talk to such people when you’re feeling lost or otherwise confused, you might end up listening to them. What a pity it would be!
They might label you with some kind of illness or just a case of personal life crisis.
One of the best ways to build that confidence is to be in a community of spiritual people. It gives you a way to not only talk about your experiences but also find solace in the fact that others also go through similar phases.
Finding people who understand you without judging is the best gift of spiritual friendship. This alone will help you develop the confidence you need to stand firm in your beliefs.
Once you gain that confidence, you can be relatively sure of talking with ‘worldly’ people and be unshaken in your faith.
Ergo, if you’re not at that point, don’t share too much outside your spiritual community.
Be Wary of Pride
“The seeker after Truth should be humbler than dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet but the seeker after Truth should be so humble that even the dust would crush him/her.” — Gandhi
Spiritual pride is one of the worst pitfalls on the path to greater awareness.
Material pride is based on fragile things — having money, a big house, a beautiful spouse, and so on. These things fall away faster than they come to you.
But spiritual pride is based on something tangible. Perhaps you find yourself being joyful, calm, and humble. But if you don’t pay close attention you can be proud of your humility as well!
Even though in this article I call others who are not spiritually aware as ‘normal’ or ‘worldly’, it’s only meant as a figure of speech. It doesn’t mean that I’m above them in any sense.
Often we forget that everyone has the same consciousness and awareness that comes from God. The only difference is that it’s dull in some places and expanded in others.
Just like fruits ripen at their own pace, our souls progress on the spiritual path at their own pace. There’s no place for pride.
I’ve found it helpful to never challenge anyone’s beliefs in these matters. For example, I detest any kind of intoxicants that includes alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc. But if someone consumes them, I don’t jump on them and give a lecture.
If we try to never impose our ideas on anyone and be comfortable in ourselves, there will be no conflict. Judging others only strengthens your ego and derails your own spiritual progress.
Don’t Show Off with Fancy Concepts
When you grow spiritually, it’s natural to think and talk in terms of energy, chakras, awareness, consciousness, and so on.
Yet, when you talk to someone who’s not aware of these truths, don’t scare them in a bid to show-off your knowledge.
Talk with them in plain language. Explain simple benefits that will motivate them to start their own practice.
Often people who’re new to meditation or spirituality think in terms of “What’s in it for me?” And so it only makes sense to satisfy their craving to get them started.
Don’t scare them away by talking about changes in your energy or the third eye. Even though some people are open to new ideas, most of them close their minds when a practice different from their culture is taught.
Stop At the Right Time
Don’t convert people against their wishes. Often, when we know how much a person can benefit from, say, meditation, we push them over the edge.
When someone asks me about it, I used to go full force on them talking about taking a course, meditating every day, and so on.
I realized that a short introduction is enough. Let the person be guided by their own curiosity. Point them in the right direction, but don’t force them to walk the path.
It’s their life and they have to come to conclusions on their own to stick with it in the long run.
Lead Only By Example
When I started on the spiritual path, one of my biggest concerns were “How do I get my friends and family on board?”
The answer was not to shove it down their throat every time you meet them. The answer is to live an ideal life that shows them what is possible.
Once I was driving with a friend and almost went through an accident. A large bus was about to hit our little car but the driver applied the breaks at the right time.
The driver then came out of the bus (as is common in India!) to fight. To my surprise, the bus was filled with army soldiers with big-ass guns handing on their arms.
I only opened my window to talk to him. But he wasn’t there for small talk.
He grabbed my arm, twisted it, and launched a barrage of abuses that I didn’t know the meaning of! Then, I calmly said (in Hindi) “Sorry, brother.” I repeated this four times and the matter was closed.
My friend thanked me for not losing my cool and escalating the issue to get into a fight. He immediately knew that it was because of my meditation practice.
And I’m sure having seen the benefits of meditation in my life, he’ll be much more open to it in the future.
It’s not about how long you meditate or how early you get up. It’s about how you live, talk, breathe, walk and behave. When they see the light of love and virtue shining from you, they’ll come to you and ask where you got it from.
That’s the time to plant the seed of inspiration in their minds. Tell them that whatever peace comes to you is a direct result of your practices. If they’re meant to do it, they will. If not, well you can’t do anything.
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