Head with Bird - Claire Fearon - 2015
In a world marred by relentless conflicts, deep political divisions and widespread suffering, the pursuit of a spiritual life can be a formidable journey. The aspiration to connect with a higher purpose, seek inner peace and foster compassion can seem arduous amid the chaos of our current times.
However, the challenges of living a spiritual life in such a world also present opportunities for growth, resilience and profound transformation.
The first challenge on the path of spirituality lies in the nature of the world itself. The human experience is characterised by an intricate tapestry of joy and sorrow, love and hatred, peace and conflict. This duality can make it challenging to maintain a consistent spiritual practice, as the external world often seems to pull us in opposite directions.
Despite this, spirituality teaches us to acknowledge and embrace these dualities, understanding that they are inherent in the human experience and essential for growth.
Living a spiritual life also involves transcending the ego, the self-centred part of our psyche. The ego can make us self-absorbed, judgmental and attached to worldly desires, thereby preventing us from living a life guided by higher principles.
In a world that often promotes individualism and materialism, especially within social media and the mainstream press, shedding the ego's grip can be profoundly challenging but necessary for spiritual growth.
Suffering, be it personal or collective, is an undeniable aspect of human existence. Spiritual individuals often grapple with how to respond to suffering. Rather than turning a blind eye to the world's pain, spirituality encourages compassion, empathy and active efforts to alleviate suffering.
This can be especially challenging when confronted with the enormity of global issues, but it is in these moments that your spiritual power can shine through.
There are ways you can support your often very empathetic self when faced with the suffering of others.
You can engage in mindfulness meditation to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. This practice can help you develop emotional resilience and cope with suffering more effectively.
To be even more proactive with your meditation you can join online groups that regularly meditate on sending healing, love and peace out into the world.
I am personally part of a worldwide group that meditates at 7pm UK time, every Sunday evening, sending love and peace out into the world. Studies have shown group indentation to be very powerful (Lynne McTaggarts book The Power of Eight is worth a read on this subject) and it’s a way of doing something that is spiritual yet practical, to help contribute even in a small way to bringing about peace.
There’s no website or anything to link to use, we’ve all heard about it from word of mouth and we all come together to meditate at 7pm on love and peace. I discovered this practice from the wonderful British global astrologer Pam Gregory.
Cultivating gratitude by acknowledging the positive aspects of your life can also help. This can shift your focus from suffering to the blessings you have, which can calm the nervous system and relieve the anxiety that can be caused by witnessing others suffering.
Also get into nature and try to focus on what’s around you using all your senses, giving yourself a break from over thinking and empathy fatigue.
Political divisions and conflicts on both local and global scales present a significant hurdle for spiritual seekers. The polarisation in society can strain even our close relationships, challenge our beliefs and tempt us to abandon the path of compassion in favour of taking a certain side.
With so much misinformation being fed to us daily, it’s hard not to get lost down political or conspiracy rabbit holes and become unknowingly manipulated into fearful thinking and anger. Staying spiritually grounded in such turbulent times calls for patience, understanding, compassion and an unwavering commitment to unity and peace.
In light of the above it’s helpful to limit the amount of information we take. We are bombarded daily with negative news locally and globally. Suffering sells and we buy into that theory by consuming it throughout our day.
Try to limit your intake, it’s the loving thing to do for yourself, especially if you are very empathetic. Or sign up to positive news sites to strike a balance. I have a subscription to the physical quarterly newspaper The Happy News. It’s an uplifting gem.
Living a spiritual life doesn't mean isolation from the world's problems, however. Many spiritual traditions emphasise the importance of selfless service, promoting the idea that individuals can make a positive impact, no matter how small, in the face of worldly challenges.
By actively participating in efforts to alleviate suffering, we as spiritual individuals can transform adversity into an opportunity for positive change.
Can you volunteer anywhere? Even just a one off? Can you support a friend who you know is having a hard time? Can you call a friend or family member you know lives alone and chat for a while? Could you meditate on peace, as I mentioned above? Even just deciding to spend a day being kind and smiling at everyone you interact with can be powerful and uplifting.
That’s a personal favourite of mine when I am feeling down. It never fails to lift my mood. You might not be solving the problems of the world, but you are making a difference.
The challenges of living a spiritual life amid a tumultuous world are undeniably formidable, but they also offer opportunities for profound personal growth and positive societal impact.
Embracing these challenges with courage, compassion and a commitment to inner peace can not only enrich one's spiritual journey but also contribute to the collective endeavour of healing a world that often feels terribly broken.
In the face of adversity, spirituality serves as a guiding light, reminding us that even in the darkest times, the human spirit has the capacity to transcend and transform.