7 Traits of Spiritual Maturity

To write of spiritual maturity, let me begin by offering my definition of this term. Spiritual maturity is the willingness to be the student, a disciple to higher spiritual awareness (consciousness) and growth. It is the willingness and openness to explore the higher realms of the self and the universe.

Over 2000 years ago a famous spiritual master and teacher named Jesus said: Be in this world, but not of this world. I believe these words mean, while you temporarily live in this world (on earth), realize there is so much more to you and the universe, that is a part of you, and you are a part of. To illustrate this point, science now knows that 96% of the universe is invisible to the human senses. The way I take this, what we think is real and all there is, is only a fraction of what we and the universe are all about.  

We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. Which means, within and beyond our temporary physical body, we are eternal formless fields of energy, that we call a soul. Spiritual maturity is the remembrance of our soul and the yearning and desire to rediscover the soul and our divinity within it. It is to move in body and mind from the limited, to the unlimited of ourselves and the universe.

The following are 7 traits of spiritual growth and maturity:

1. Search for Higher Truth: Living here on earth, you can begin to yearn and feel for something more. That there is more to this life than what’s learned from family, traditional school, religious systems, government, etc. Shaking the old, what was once made true in order to discover the truth.

What’s true, will not surpass the test of time. What’s true will change over time. A truth will always surpass the test of time. The truth will not change over time, its eternal.

The Sufi teacher and spiritual leader, Hazart Inayat Klan has said this about truth: “When a person looks at the ocean, he can only see that part of it which comes within his range of vision; so it is with the truth.”

Spiritual maturity is about questioning and challenging the status quo. On an individual and collective level, many people struggle with change; we want safety, steadiness, certainty and predictability. This is adhering to the primitive part of our brain. That is all about survival and keeping safe.

We struggle with the unknown and uncertainty. However, there is no higher understanding and growth in the status quo.

The person on the spiritual path is often not going so much with the mainstream society. For they realize the truth won’t be found at Walmart or watching the Fox network.

2. Concerned about what’s Going on Inside of You: On the spiritual path, you begin to realize the importance of doing your inner work, to reconcile, release and re-frame what has been blocking your true happiness, potential and spiritual growth. You pay greater attention to your feelings, emotions and beliefs and how they trigger unproductive behaviors and outcomes.

One understands you cannot heal what you do not feel.  Engaging in your feelings, emotions and beliefs is the higher road, to better understand yourself in relation to your life experiences, and how you have learned to show up in life.

You are aware and accept, that what comes up for you within difficult experiences and people in your life are your teacher and opportunity to higher learning and growth. As a result, you are not as easily caught up in the victim and/or conflict or drama energies, and there destructive thinking and behavior patterns. You respond more than react to life situations and people around you.

In addition, you’re not as distracted by mundane aspects of life, which only seek to interfere with your growth. Therefore, your focus, is on connecting back to your soul and seek to understand why you have come to earth in this life time, what is it, you are to experience and resolve in this life journey?

Your experiences and people in your life create a student and teacher dynamic in order to experience and learn life lessons. You ask soul searching and life affirming questions like: What’s my purpose for being? Who am I? Most importantly, you go after the answers.

You begin to have different priorities in life and your values can shift as to what’s important vs. what’s no longer needed in your personal and/or professional life. Consequently, there’s a desire and willingness to listen more to your soul and heart, what I call the soul-heart, its pulse and nudging from deep within.

This soul pulse and nudging often wants you to step out of your status quo and comfort zone. So it creates fear and uncertainty. Many don’t say “Yes” to the call. They just go about their life. Than 5 or 10 years later they have regrets of not going with that calling of the soul pulse, as it seems more clearly now, where the soul was intending to lead you.

3. A Prayerful and Mindful Person: A spiritually growing person has heightened awareness of the value and practice of prayer throughout the day, as a way to commune with the higher power, whatever name you may call this.

They also practice meditation as a way to listen to their higher self and divine source for guidance and direction. They value what I call the 4 I’s of: Innocence, Intuition, Imagination and Inspiration to assist them on their spiritual journey. They listen to, and follow. the soft still voice of their intuition/higher self; more then the loud and self defeating voice of their inner critic i.e. lower, ego self.

4. Practice the Actions of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness: The spiritually mature person understands the importance of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness. They realize these are acts of love to the self and others. These loving actions, generate inner freedom, peace and gracefulness in life. 

With the practice of acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, one is sensitive to both their own needs and the needs of others; while setting healthy boundaries.

The spiritually mature person, lives as much from their heart, intuitive and emotional part, as from their head and logic side.

5. A Peace Maker and of Service: True spiritual masters are peace makers, and value peace over conflict. They seek to do no harm, thus understand and practice patience and tolerance, to achieve this end. In their communication they speak their truth with words of peace. 

Those growing spiritually, humbly seek to serve others, for the betterment of others and society as a whole. They receive as they serve, because their mindset is on loving kindness and willingness, not sacrifice.

6. Full of Love, Passion and Joy for Life: You remember you come from love, so you are love. Embracing this love, allows for passion with life, and a joyful heart. You freely spread this love, passion and joy to others. Having childlike qualities, you love to laugh and be playful, not taking yourself in life too seriously. You understand and see the lesson and meaning to life experiences, both the joyful and difficult ones.

7. Awareness of Being Connected to All That Is: The spiritually mature person understands that everything is made of energy, with a vibration. That everything in the universe is connected and interdependent with each other. So the idea of separation has been reconciled. You see the wonder, the miracle and beauty of all things. You accept the impermanence of life‒things change.

There is an understanding, that darkness and destruction are a part of the divine process and cycle of life. There is life – transition ‒ rebirth. You accept that creation/birth comes from the darkness, the void, and that renewal comes from destruction.

In conclusion, becoming spiritually mature is a conscious choice and a process. Which can be sparked by a crisis, loss, or a yearning for something more in life. It involves acceptance, willingness and determination to begin a deeper exploration of our soul in relation to our human experience.

Through spiritual surrender, the spiritually mature person embarks on working the task of transcending the ego’s will and ways of being, to the will of the divine.

The 7 traits listed, are part of a spiritual practice, process and inner discipline one chooses on the road to spiritual maturity. Once you begin this journey of deeper exploration and higher consciousness. You realize what’s been missing in your life, and you won’t want or need to go back to the old ways of living and being.

Out of love, this opportunity is always there for us to embrace. Having free will, however, the choice is always ours, to go deeper into this journey or not. 

 

Do you desire to discover a higher purpose and meaning to your life?  Are you struggling with embracing your spiritual path or staying on it? Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your spiritual issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

3 Myths and 6 Truths about Self-Love

Cultivating Self-Love is one of the foundations of self-esteem. The most important person to have a loving and caring relationship with is with you. Self-love is the basis of your happiness, as well as your physical and emotional health. Self-Love is vital toward developing and sustaining healthy relationships with others, or the ability to move on from an unhealthy relationship. If you struggle with loving yourself, you will likely struggle with loving relationships with others. Spiritual truth says: what you to do yourself you do to others.

There are both myths and truths about self-love.  

 3 common Myths about Self-Love:

1. I need to please others: In childhood I experienced and learned that in order to get love, acceptance and approval, “I needed to please others” and I still believe this today. In pleasing others, we tend to forget the self. Over time, this depletes you especially, emotionally, leading  to resentment, unhappiness and overall life dissatisfaction.  

 2. Self-Love is being selfish: Childhood taught me that to love the self, was being selfish, arrogant or egoistical. I became programmed to feel guilt or shame if I took  care of and loved myself, if I said, “No” ‒ set boundaries for myself. We learned to love and value others unconditionally, yet, “conditions” apply to loving ourselves. 

3. Life is 90% what happens to me and 10% what I do with it. This myth caused me to develop an unhealthy and unloving relationship with myself around a difficult circumstance. I become the victim (blaming/hating myself) or the villain (blaming/hating others) because of the circumstance.

Life circumstances can cause us to become sad, fearful, angry, bitter, and resentful. There is a part of us that ultimately needs to blame someone or something for our feelings and emotions. In the end, I either blame you or I blame myself. This blame is judgment, and judgment is simply the withholding of love. Within my difficult situation, I do not love you or I do not love myself. Either way, my wounded self is not being loving. It’s protecting/defending itself or condemning the self. This is fear, not love.

The truth is: life is 10% what happens to me and 90% what I do with it. This means I take responsibility for my thoughts, beliefs, choices and behaviors regarding the experience. This is a more loving, accepting and empowering way to move through life experiences.

6 Truths of Self-Love:

1. You instinctively know your true worth. Question: How easily do you give up your value and sense of worth when things go wrong? People, who love themselves, instinctively believe and know they are worthy and of value.

Within the struggles and hardships of life, they have accepted and learned that life offers a series of problems in the form of lessons, and their life experiences are the lessons. Within these experiences, working with and through their circumstances, they have developed a more positive, self-empowering and life enhancing relationship to their unfortunate circumstances.

They are not defined by the unfortunate experience, rather they see it as an opportunity to deeply love them self, have compassion for themselves and others within and because of the experience.

They choose out of love and a desire for higher learning and growth, not to diminish their self-worth and love of self. They realize the circumstance was a test of their faith and to not lose our self-love, within the difficult experience. They accept it’s not always possible to like yourself or the experience, but you should never give up loving yourself, because of the experience.

The truth is, loving the self is one of the most positive and healthy ways to live and cope with life. To love your self is to value yourself and know your worth. Self-love and worth, naturally spills over to loving and accepting others.

2. Return to the Source of Love: In my humanness I tend to forget I am love, innocence and goodness, due to difficult and painful experiences. I experience, rejection, abandonment, or betrayal, which leads me to feel embarrassment/shame or injustice i.e. the world is not fair. My perception and belief of separation takes shape in my reality.

There is however, another truth and reality beyond what I have made true. There is a source and power within me and all around me that is pure and unconditional love and acceptance. This love is the source and basis of all that exist.

To return to this source is to remember and return to love. It is to remember and return to that which I am‒Love. This ends the perception and belief in separation and returns me back to inclusion.   

Love, innocence and worthiness represent inclusion. Fear, shame and unworthiness imply exclusion. To have self-love is to include myself again.

3. Self-Love creates and builds resilience. Resilience embodies the qualities of flexibility, hardiness and determination. I love and care about myself enough, that I choose to see my circumstances through. So I am open and accepting to my circumstances. Moving away from avoidance, resistance, shame or blame.

To be flexible and adapting, offers me the motivation and determination to change what I can. The greater my self-love, the greater my resilience and willingness to change what I can. The greater my resilience the deeper my self-love.

4. Loving the self without the conditions. The unconditional love and acceptance you offer others, is to be offered and expressed to yourself first and foremost, without conditions or “yah buts.” The airplane ride proves this statement. When traveling by plane, with a small child, the flight attendant says: “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before your child.” Why? Because, in order to keep your child safe and secure, you need to have yourself safe and secure first.

A fundamental way to feel safe and secure is through self-love. Don’t wait for others to affirm you, affirm yourself freely and daily. True happiness comes from the unconditional love and acceptance with all parts of us.

5. All of our experiences are meant to bring us back to love. A difficult spiritual concept to comprehend is the notion that our experiences and the way we move through them, shows us how much we love or don’t love ourselves.

If I don’t love myself, because someone wasn’t very loving or kind to me, I have given away my power and my sense of love to that unloving person and/or experience.

It’s really not the rejection or betrayal by the other person that hurts me. What creates my hurt is the perception, belief and behaviors I take on because of the experience, the story I tell myself and others around the experience.

The key: within an unloving or uncaring act of someone toward you, keep loving and expressing kindness to yourself along the way. Some examples to help with this:

  • Connect with loving/supportive people
  • Write in a Journal
  • Take a warm bath/receive regular bodywork
  • Forgive the unloving words or act, sooner rather than later
  • Take walks/exercise
  • Mediation and prayer
  • Talk with a therapist or coach to sort out truth from your distortions and false beliefs.
  • Practice what I call the 4R’s (see below)

The 4 R’s:  Recognize, Reconcile, Release and Reframe

Recognize: Much of the owning process is about recognizing, becoming aware and identifying or naming where the hurt takes you in perception, feelings/emotions and belief about yourself within the situation. As I see how and where the situation or person triggered my perception, feelings and self-belief, this gives me the opportunity to:

Reconcile: within me where the situation is taking me in my belief about myself. How this belief builds me up‒makes me my best friend or condemns me‒makes me my worst enemy. When I can reconcile within myself, where the situation is taking, me than I can release the inner torment.

Release: To release is to say, believe, and act with confidence and determination to letting go of what no longer serves me. I release my unhealthy mind set and choose now to construct a more self empowering and loving mind set along with actions that reinforce the new way of being.

I choose to let go of the old, in order to create and live the new. I choose to focus on what I will gain and benefit as I embrace self-love, and release self-judgment and sabotaging thinking and behaviors.

Reframe: is the openness and willingness to view the upset in a different way. The mind is limited in perception and belief. We know what we know and we feel, and do what we know. To entertain a different possibility from my current point of view is to open the door to a different knowing. This helps create a more constructive and healthier story and reality‒way of thinking and acting.

To reframe my perception and belief, helps reduce the emotional charge I’ve had around the painful experience. This is an act of self-love within the fact that someone outside of me wasn’t very loving to me. This is a way we return to love and self-empowerment.

6. Can I look in the mirror and see love, my innocence and goodness? Or do I see what I deem as flaws, the bad hair day, the wrinkles, etc? I see my created distorted reflection, not the true reflection in my mirror. The one looking at you from inside the mirror only sees you as love, innocence and beauty. 

Can you accept and honor this truth of who you are? If you can, how would this make you feel in this moment? How would this start your day? What would this do to your state/frame of mind, and your attitude about yourself in life? When you reject the one in the mirror you are excluding her/him. To embrace and freely love the one in the mirror is to include her/him into your life. 

In my book, Just Be Love, I wrote a poem entitled: My Mirror, which illustrates the importance of staying true to the divine reflection of you from your mirror. 

My Mirror

My mirror recognizes and reflects the truth
that I struggle to notice and affirm.
My mirror only sees and knows me as love,
love I struggle to accept and embrace.
My mirror supports and nurtures,
what I choose to judge and reject.
My mirror only ask that I Just Be Love,
with the one who truly sees and knows me.

I look deeply in my mirror.
I see my innocence, perfection and radiance,
I would before hide and condemn.

As I let go of what I thought I was.
I see more clearly who I am.
What a gift I give to myself this day.

Thank you mirror, thank you,
I finally recognize and have found the one,
I’ve been looking for all along.

To come back to loving your self is to cultivate and value the self. You are expressing to yourself, you matter. Thus you find and connect with the one you have been looking for. You come back to the truth of who you are.

 

Are you struggling with loving yourself? Are you pleasing others as a way to receive love, acceptance and approval? Only to find you are more physically, emotionally and socially depleted?  David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

A Valentine’s Day Message

So another Valentine’s Day is upon us. Like Christmas, many scramble to find the perfect gift for their beloved, to show their love and how much they care. Love is a beautiful thing. The expression of unconditional love and acceptance is a gift beyond measure. As I express in my book Just Be Love, I define divine love as the unconditional love and acceptance of the spirit of all that exist. In the spirit of us, the soul essence of us is expressing itself in human form. The divine loves and accepts this spirit/soul in whatever form or formless state it may express itself. The ultimate of love, I’ve come to appreciate is freedom. The divine’s love is freedom, that’s why as human’s we have this gift called, free will. Whatever name you give the divine, call it God, Buddha Allah, Kristina, Jesus, Mohammad, etc. the name is not the point. The point and the message is clear, no matter the religion, culture, gender, belief or language of each of us. This power greater than ourselves freely loves to love. Divine love is always present and present in all ways.  

Whether you are in relationship with another person or not this Valentines’s Day, it need not matter. However, societies and ourselves in it, can make it matter, to the point of much unhappiness, even despair. This is a great error, similar to the error of attachment to our self-created story, as if it were life itself. What does matter is the relationship you have with yourself, and with the universal source of love and goodness. This love is always present, even when we don’t feel its presence and/or we deny its existence. This love is not defined by human struggle nor by our beliefs about life.  For the energy of divine love is existence. Without it, nothing else would exist, including you and I. 

So Just Be Love this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself permission and the opportunity to freely love to love. I ask: Can you be your own valentine today and to all you meet this day and everyday? For love is all we are, and what we truly seek to return to.

What is Eros and Agape Love?

The Ancient Greeks had two main words to describe love, Eros and Agape.
Eros Love, is the most common way human’s love. Eros love is physical, passionate, sensual; a desire, a longing for another, but in an egotistic and objectified way. In Eros love, we struggle with freely loving just to love. With Eros love, I make the other my love object; and responsible for my happiness. Eros love is conditional, and is the love of need and feels it lacks. One has a desire to be loved, but with expectations to the one they say they “love.”  This type of love, loves to get something a payback, they form relationships based on “you owe me.” This love is always comparing and seeking what it appears to be more satisfying outside of itself. So we are rarely satisfied in relationship with another, because I may struggle with insecurities and self-love, I make people and things outside of me, responsible my happiness and contentment. 

Agape Love is spiritual divine-centered love. With Agape love, one has the awareness that it was created in the image of God, and this knowing dissolves any concept of separation into oneness. Agape love has no needs and makes no demands; its intent is offering understanding, and unconditional love, acceptance and good will. This love is the truest form of intimacy, a love without measure.  With Agape love the perception and belief of a threat or an enemy dissolves. For you see others as a reflection of yourself, so you see love as the teacher and opportunity to higher awareness and soul growth. The search for love ends, when I have the awareness that I am love,       I remember who I am. This is the desired freedom we seek. It’s the journey of the soul in human form.  Agape love is not about falling in love, this is Eros love. Agape love, is rising as love, to ascend in the energy and awareness of love, because love is who we are.

Signs Eros Love:
If you are with someone, who appears judgmental, controlling, demanding; presenting conditions to loving i.e. I’ll do this if you do that.” This is the withholding of love to get my own needs met, with little concern for the other person. If you need someone, to the point of losing yourself because you need them, you are being conditional or maybe in your neediness and dependency you can more easily be controlled and taken advantage of in relationship.  With others, if you need to be right more often than not, you are offering Eros love.  If you believe being with someone will make you happy, your love is Eros, because in time, you will make the other person responsible for your happiness, causing you to be more unhappy and unfulfilled. If you bounce from relationship to relationship, have had affairs; use food, alcohol, or porn, etc. to cope with and find satisfaction within a relationship; you are consumed in the unsatisfying love called Eros. 

Signs of Agape Love: 
Pure love, divine love is freedom. Agape love, offers a sense of freedom to the other person. You have a good awareness of self and a confidence, which allows you to be strong, yet flexible in the relationship; without losing yourself or pushing the other away. Your love is more unconditional and you value accepting people with where they are at; without judging or needing to change them.  One can easily compromise without a sense of feeling slighted or that you’ve gained the upper hand. Agape love is not a power over the other person; you embrace a relationship that is more inclusive and work toward having power-with the other person. You view your relationships as learning and growing experiences, especially during difficult/challenging times with this person. You often say to yourself within relationship experiences: “What is this person teaching me?”  “What am I to learn from this experience?”

Agape love is heart-centered. This type of love, offers awareness, acceptance and compassion to acknowledge that sometimes for the highest and greatest good, a relationship is no longer healthy and constructive. So out of love I set myself and you free, in forgiving and appreciative ways. Love is freedom and freedom is love.

The way to Agape Love: Is to first and foremost understand, accept and have the awareness that you are love. Reconciling our wounded past gets us on the pathway to this higher understanding and acceptance of the love that we are. This allows us to be more accepting and offer loving kindness to others.

Free your ego of selfish needs and wants. This minimizes the degree of conditions and expectations of how love should be. Divine love is the unconditional love and acceptance of the spirit of all that is. Pure and Agape love is free of conditions and expectations. This is the way to rise as love, happiness and freedom.

Which type of love do you think you express most often, Eros or Agape?  What makes this so? Which type of love would offer you more happiness and peaceful relations with others? Why?   Your answers are appreciated to these questions. Leave a comment about this blog.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com