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3 Measures of Spiritual Progress – Part 2

Patti Montella
Jan 10, 2014 at 11:48 AM PST


Measure of your Spiritual Progress – Part 2

#2 Observation:  A fascinating law of nature is that when we observe what  is negative it begins to dissolve and when we observe what is positive, it expands.  Are you observing what is happening inside of you – the pleasant and unpleasant sensations? This is a powerful practice that eventually brings great wisdom.   Many of us trick ourselves into  thinking our intellect has the power – however, when we are not acting from our center, our intellect takes a back seat and emotions drive the situation. Spiritual practices such as breathing techniques and meditation strengthen  objectively, thus improving our emotional intelligence.
I interact with people of every age, background, religion an culture. Naturally conflict arises from time to time.  Over the years I’ve made it a practice to first observe what is happening inside of myself when the flow of communication gets stuck. Is my heart beating a little too fast? Do I feel heat rising? Is my breath light and fine or shaky? Am I really listening to what the other person is attempting to communicate or are my own thoughts taking over?  This habit has saved my mind and energy countless times. It’s been an  instrumental tool in maintaining and growing relationships with  my family, friends and in the workplace.For years Sri Sri has said that one day society will give out tickets for mind pollution. It’s our responsibility to manage our own mind and emotions. Eventually society will evolve just it has over the years with regard to polluting the environment and giving out tickets for littering. This noble idea reminds me of the song, Imagine, by John Lennon… “Imagine all the people living in peace. You may call me a dreamer but I’m not the only one”. TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE OBSERVATION
The next time you’re in the grip of emotion take a moment and observe the physical sensations and the rhythm of your own breath before responding.  It’s a fact that every emotion  has a corresponding rhythm of breath. Just notice when you’re happy there is more inhalation and when you’re sad or upset, you will naturally sigh, letting out the toxins and negativity.Another helpful practice is to notice where your mind tends to hang out. Take a piece of paper and draw 3 columns. Label the columns Past, Present, Future. Write down every thought that comes into your mind. . Notice which column has the most thoughts. Emotions of regret, anger, shame and sorrow are signs your mind is stuck in the past. Anxiety is a sign that the mind is in the future. Swinging between the past and future, judging what we like or don’t like, agree or disagree with, creates alot of misery and stress on the nervous system.  There is no value in staying stuck in the past or worrying about the future. It takes us out of the present moment which is all we have.Careful observation of our own breath and its link to our emotions  immediately calms the mind and increases our awareness. The decisions we make and action we take from this space are more intelligent, creative and skillful.
You’re making spiritual progress when you begin to see that negative emotions don’t last as long  & you’re able to let go & move forward more often.
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Patti Montella
Senior Faculty Member, Art of Living Foundation sharing the teachings of renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.