Being spiritual is easy if you spend your life meditating on a mountain top with intermittent breaks for yoga and energy treatments (I actually know people who pretty much live like this) but for most of us attempting to live a spiritual life of sorts we simply don't have the pleasure or privilege of living in this way.
We inhabit the real world with all the practicalities and often problems that go along with minutiae of life.
From bills to pay, to facing issues at work/in our careers, dealing with ongoing issues with loved ones, to navigating our daily commute, it can be hard - even for the most mindful and earnest spiritual seeker, to maintain a positive perspective when faced with the daily juggling act and ensuing challenges of life.
Of course therein lies the challenge for all of us on the path of self-improvement and it is gritty real life that offers us the opportunity for true evolution.
I remember a real turning point a few years ago when I had been away for a spiritual retreat and was feeling oh so Zen and evolved. In truth I was probably a bit spiritually smug. I came crashing down to reality and fell swiftly off my own pedestal when I found myself squashed on the tube, being elbowed in the ribs and contorted into a position where I was half sniffing someone's armpit (not out of choice I hasten to add). I went from being Zen to being positively 'murder, death, kill'...if looks could kill and all that...
As I felt my anger bubble into a full blown shit fit I suddenly 'saw' my ego reaction and burst into laughter at the irony of the lesson I was being taught. I took a deep breath (through my mouth, my spiritually does not extend to smelling even more sweat - I'm not a sadist) and reminded myself that as gross and uncomfortable as my situation was, it was exactly what I needed to grow. And this was when I learned to spiritually surf, which at that precise moment meant to ground myself into the tiny spot on the carriage that I was standing on and to stop thinking dark thoughts about my fellow commuters.
Since then life has given me much bigger and grittier problems than rude, smelly commuters to deal with and as I have attempted to navigate my way through these challenges and maintain my sanity I have learned some valuable lessons that have further developed what I term 'spiritual surfing' as a response to dealing with challenges. I share some snippets below.
1) Ground yourself. The shit will hit the fan. It's inevitable and none of us are immune from it. The thing to do is to close your eyes and ground at this time. Not to avoid reality but to stop the spray of shit from getting into your eyes, either temporarily blinding you or causing short term myopia meaning you can't see the wood for the trees due to your understandable panic. Ground yourself by meditating, praying, going for a run, doing yoga or whatever it is that you do to clear your mind so you don't go blind with fear or rage.
2) Allow yourself to feel and express what comes up. You may be spiritual but you are still human. I see too many people (and have done this myself to great detriment) thinking that because they are trying to live a spiritual existence they are not allowed to have negative thoughts or emotions. Bollocks. Your ego and soul need to co-exist for as long as you are alive and kicking. Therefore allow yourself to feel and express what your ego needs to. It is only by fully expressing something and allowing it to be that one can process it and move on. So let whatever you are feeling come up so it can come out of you. Better out than in and all that.
3) Be proactive not reactive. Easier said than done. But if you don't go through the process of stages 1 and 2 above then it is likely that whatever reaction you have to a problem/challenge is a reactive one that comes from ego. Ego reactions tend to only fan the flames of the fires of life. Yes we need to allow for our egos as they are an intrinsic part of who we are as humans but we need to make way for our higher selves - our souls - the more evolved us - come through to provide a SOUL -ution. As SOULutions come from a better place they are likely to have a more positive impact on whatever problem we may be facing.
4) Know that this too shall pass. Sometimes we need to look backwards in order to move forward. In some of my most difficult times I have taken time out to review the past to remind myself that I have got through tough times before. Whether practical difficulties or emotionally dark times, somehow I have always got through. This has given me faith that once again, the hard times will pass. Maybe we get a few war wounds in the process but ultimately problems will be dealt with and lessons will be learned and we will move on.
My spiritual surfing and spiritual path continues to be a work in progress but I hope that these tips from lessons I have learned may help others on their journey.