15 Life Lessons from Spiritual Memoirs

A wide range of spiritual lessons on lifestyle choices, marriage, relationships, detachment, humility, and more!

There was a time when I couldn’t stand biographies. And then, I was introduced to the world of spiritual memoirs – the less factual, more emotionally invested kind of look into people’s lives. It was like a paradigm shift!

While our Ultimate goal as spiritual beings is to attain Enlightenment, not all of us are aspiring single-mindedly to achieve that goal within this lifetime. Also, not all of us are inclined towards renouncing our material lives to go live in ashrams or caves with the monks, to attain this guidance.

That being said, we need all the encouragement, wisdom and inspiration along our way, that we can get, even whilst we choose to engage in worldly matters.

To me, these are the books that brought different flavors of enlightenment to the comfort of my lazy space. Here’s highlighting what stood out to me, in each of the recommendations listed below.

* The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer

This inspiring story looks into Michael’s life of almost monk-hood; spending 40-years in the forest trying to live in solitude but by a strange twist of fate, being anything but alone, ever!

Meditation, Buddhism, Monk, Temple, Spiritual Memoirs

Not just that, there are humbling insights like him teaching meditation to jail inmates, building a spiritual temple that is a magnet to spiritual masters from around the world, coming clean from an FBI raid, and demystifying several spiritual experiences in simple laymen language.

Without giving away too much, here are my 5 key takeaways.

#1 – ON MEDITATION

Meditating for long hours is not comfortable, not easy and definitely not rosy. But he shows us how to get through the sluggish phases, as well as embrace the overwhelming ones.

#2 – ON EGO

Even years of meditation can lead to stagnation in spirituality. You might be able to use his life incidents to identify your own shortcomings and ego blocks, so that you can accelerate your journey once again!

#3 – ON LIFESTYLE CHOICES

It is possible to earn a LOT of money, get married, have kids and still be increasingly, spiritually-conscious. The real-life incidents in this book are more than plenty of evidence in terms of practical spirituality.

#4 – ON HAPPINESS & SURRENDERING

Our personal preferences about what should and shouldn’t happen, is the reason we experience resistance. Once you stop feeding these preferences, you are able to do what needs to be done without being emotionally driven.

#5 – ON PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY

Pursuing Spirituality is NOT black and white; the universe continues to throw other necessary ‘obstacles’ such as jobs or relationships, and the only way out to the other side of Oneness, is through these obstacles. As the saying goes, obstacles on your path, are your path.

Read more : Being Spiritual Everydyay – 8 Books on Practical Spirituality

This book affirmed my belief that we are no longer in the time where we go sit in caves and become monks. The monks need to live amongst us – WE have to find our Light and spread it, all the while being amongst those that are in the darkness.

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* Sadhguru by Arundhati Subramaniam

What stands out about this book from other spiritual memoirs, is the strange experiences that are described. Though strange, are not impossible to believe. It also is perhaps the deepest introspection into Sadhguru’s life, I’ve read thus far.

Shiva, Lord Shiva, God Shiva, Isha

#6 – ON MARRIAGE

Marrying a non-spiritual partner is okay (and as proven by this mystic, at times necessary in your journey). This book helped me close the loop on my personal pondering – Should Spiritual People Get Married?

#7 – ON ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE COMMON MAN

Non-spiritual people might attain nirvana before the Enlightened being (called Bodhisattva) who was evidently more Spiritual in life! Everyone is moving at their own pace, don’t let someone’s journey disappoint you or make you arrogant either.

#8 – ON PAST LIVES

Not only are past lives proven to be very real experiences as proven by Sadhguru’s stories, what seems like an ‘instant’ and effortless enlightenment is actually many lifetimes of raising awareness to attain that peak point of bliss.

#9 – ON THE AFTERMATH OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Enlightened beings can fall sick and undergo a lot of challenges too, their life doesn’t become rosy and effortless. As long as you’re alive, you’re going to learn a lot! This makes me think we’ve exaggerated the topic “your external is a manifestation of your internal”. Some things happen regardless, and that’s just that.

#10 – ON MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES

Disembodied spirits (ghosts) are real, but they aren’t spooky as we believe them to be. They’re just searching for the Light and sometimes they think we, as humans, can show them the way. So are other concepts like chakras, soul bonds, and much more.

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* Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

This was single-handedly the most influential spiritual memoir I have ever read on my journey yet. If there is one book you ever buy on my recommendation, please make it this one!

Buddha, Banner, Religion, Meditation, Spiritual Memoirs, Thich Nhat Hanh

Though over 400-pages, it is not overwhelming at all. It is a gentle, easy-breezy read that will transform you in the most subtle and lasting ways.

I learned a lot about Buddhism and the life of the Buddha, by reading this but also was able to adopt many aspects into my own life. Here are 5 highlights :

#11 – ON ESSENTIALISM

The Buddha and his disciples only ate one to two meals a day, before sunset, depending on the food available.

The practitioners were not required to cook meals because it was considered an added household chore – so both with the intention of learning humility, and saving time, they would beg alms once every morning, and that food would be used throughout the day. (Focus on what really matters, Essentialism)

#12 – ON MINIMALISM

The same for clothing – the monks were advised to have only two pairs, one to wear, one to wear whilst the other pair was in wash. This minimized worldly duties. (Minimalism has been around longer than us new-age folks want to believe)

#13 – ON MONKS & COMMONERS

Lay disciples, were the followers that didn’t want to be monks, but wanted to benefit from Buddhism while pursuing their livelihoods. The lay disciples had five simple practices to follow – don’t cheat on your spouse, don’t steal from anybody, no alcohol, no non veg, and don’t lie. (If you can’t be a monk, following just this little bit of advice is enough to change your life)

#14 – ON DIVERSITY

Though the Buddha did not voluntarily cook meat, if during bhiksha, the process of begging alms, he was served non vegetarian food, he would not decline because he saw this also an opportunity to connect with and share the Buddhist practice in every household. (Don’t stand against those that are not like you; gently gain their confidence and show them a better way; but stay open to possibility that they will still not walk your way)

#15 – ON HUMILITY

Buddha was aware in much advance, of the exact moment of his death, and reason. Still, he continued to carry out his life without trying to win death. (Stay humble, and know when your time is up, don’t try to bargain with destiny)

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That being said, a special mention to the classic works of Paramhans Yogananda, called An Autobiography of A Yogi. This is one of those spiritual memoirs slash autobiographies that get the review “this answered many of my doubts”.

And this has been true for me too. Whether it was my confusions about Hypnotherapy, fear of negative entities, or many other personal experiences, this book gave me the guidance I otherwise had no access to.

The language is a bit dated and complex, but if you try not to get too stuck in all that and simply glide through the story, your answers too will find themselves in this 400+ page biography.

There are many wondrous books that bring us the lessons that we otherwise would have to learn though ardent life obstacles. It is a fortune more than ever to have such a beautiful bouquet of diverse information.

Hope these works inspire you to read and gain from them too.

Happy reading!

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Side note, My Spiritual Shenanigans just got featured as Rank #17 in the Top 100 Spiritual Blogs of 2019!

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10 Spiritual Practices that are NOT Meditation

You may want to bookmark this one – I’ve loaded the post with as many spiritual ideas that are NOT meditation, as I could. Try them all atleast once!

So many of us, no matter how hard we have tried, have failed miserably at sitting still to meditate. The usual complaints are – my thoughts are all over the place, I can’t concentrate, I just can’t sit still, etcetera, etcetera.

We still want to try, and probably give it a shot annually when anyone ‘recommends meditation’, but we begin to resign from spirituality assuming that meditation is the only way to approach it.

Also, at times, even when we know how to meditate, we may not have the time or the emotional availability to sit down for it.

The good news is, spirituality is unlimited and there are countless ways to experience a more soul-enriching life!

So here are 10 things you can do in your daily life to experience peace, even if you can’t sit still or don’t have enough time to.

#1 – Music (Chanting)

You don’t need to close your eyes to experience peace.

And, even if you can’t understand the chant due to a language barrier, there are some incredibly therapeutic creations to listen to while driving, before bed or at any time of the day when you need to cool down your mind quickly. I often used to listen to these while at work – it helped me stay calm and focused.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for chants :

1) Buddhist Monks – https://youtu.be/cDCS19EOsrA
2) Om Namah Shivay Chanting – https://youtu.be/htoKhJySUFo
3) Lotus Sutra (Namyoho Renge Kyo) – https://youtu.be/OBgN849_nOs
4) Om Chanting – https://youtu.be/8sYK7lm3UKg
5) Morning Prayer – https://youtu.be/Hx8c50vUi4I

#2 – Mindfulness (Not Meditation)

While meditation is associated with sitting still, mindfulness asks you to focus on your reality, whilst engaged in other activities. It isn’t as challenging as it sounds! Start small, as small as 1 minute everyday, and let your mindfulness expand in duration, as well as the activities you do.

mindfulness, not meditation, spirituality, spiritual awakening

How to be mindful?

To summarise the practice, when you’re involved in any mundane task in which you are so good, you are not paying attention and your mind is wandering, such as brushing, eating or walking, become fully aware of doing this activity. Feel yourself being involved in the task at hand. Appreciate the effortlessness you have developed in doing something – enjoy it!

#3 – Minimalism

Minimalism has been quite the ‘trend’ lately. It not only appears tidy, classy and overcomes the ‘hoarding’ psychology, minimalism is another way of saying “I am a mindful consumer”.

minimalism, materialiastic, no hoarding, spirituality, conscious living

While there are multiple philosophies on how to practice minimalism, I think we should all start with the basics :

  • All future purchases should be what you immediately need.
    When you purchase less, you can still upgrade your wardrobe and appear stylish, by spending more on the quality of what you’re buying. This allows you to maximise the use of what you have, and thus a NO-WASTE policy.
  • Scan your existing purchases and remove items you haven’t used in 6 months or more.
    If you keep stocking up, or refuse to let go of old possessions, you’re basically a hoarder. That word is not to be taken lightly, simply because it is a psychological problem, a fear of ‘lack and insufficiency’ that as a conscious being, you MUST overcome.
  • For every new item you buy, try to remove an old pair.
    The effective consumption stays constant, and you are able to recycle your wardrobe. Preferably giving away your used items to charity.

When we evaluate how many gallons of water is wasted in making a simple piece of cloth, or that our natural resources are outrageously being depleted, minimalism is the LEAST we can do to start curbing the explosive consumption and lack of appreciation.

#4 – Grounding

It’s simply reconnecting with nature and allowing your excess energy to balance into the Earth.

Woman, Young, Rain, Pond, Cambodia, Girl

Dance in the rain.
Walk barefoot in the grass.
Take a hike in the nature.
Play with your pets outdoors (keyword is outdoors).
Hug a tree.
Walk in the sand and let the ocean waves crash against your feet.

These are all just some examples, and just 5 minutes a day can make all the difference!

#5 – Absorb Wisdom from Around

Surround yourself with spirituality. But, how? Keep reading.

  • Since we spend an awful lot of time on social media, the quickest trick is to follow pages and channels that keep reminding you of soulful messages. Slowly and steadily, these thoughts will penetrate into your way of living.

    Speaking by personal experience – on the days when you don’t have enough inner light, it is these messages that will lift you, NOT the images of people getting married or going on a Euro-trip.
  • Second, listen to spiritual teachers. Here are some of my personal favourites :
  1. Sadhguru
  2. Caroline Myss
  3. Eckhart Tolle
  4. Oprah Winfrey’s Soulful Sunday series
  5. Hay House podcasts
  • Also, to nurture your Soul straight from the wise horse’s mouth, read more intriguing books. If you haven’t picked up book from this genre yet, you can check out my recommendations for 5 spiritual books everyone should read.

#6 – Morning Pages

A suggestion that has been around for a few decades, but I only got to, this year myself. Morning Pages is like a mindless rant, it’s venting everything that’s on your mind, onto a piece of paper (or typing it in Word, if you’d like).

Pencil, Sharpener, Notebook, Paper, Journal, Not Meditation, Self Discovery, Emotions, Feelings

This is the brainchild of Julia Cameron found in her book, The Artist’s Way. I will come forward and say, that what meditation sometimes does not do for me, morning pages does. How?

Because you are taking a few minutes to actually channelise your thoughts, you are able to finish the thought and move on. Sometimes in meditation, the mind will jump from one unfinished thought to another like a kid high on sugar, so writing slows down the process and really lets you vent.

And you may even experience some wisdom seeping through! This is what manifested the page, Messages from the Universe, on my blog.

#7 – Reliving and releasing your pain (Therapy)

Anything that brings you back to the present moment is a good thing. And what is more effective, than a bad memory which reminds you that you’re safe now, in this moment? Counter-intuitive, I know.

As someone said, “in the exact moment, we are all, always alright”.

When we actively pursue our pain, or ‘darkness’, we are able to realise the lessons behind our suffering, and appreciate our ‘now’.

Therapy, Healing, Mental Health, Not Meditation

On to the ‘how‘, three suggestions –

  1. Regularly talk to somebody you trust and feel safe opening your wounds around.
  2. Second, write about it for yourself or for a bigger audience (this is how my page on Instagram began). You’ll be surprised how liberating it is to speak your truth. The world is really a more receptive place today, and vulnerability is welcomed.
  3. Attend therapy sessions. Though this isn’t the path for everybody, but if you feel like you might benefit from it, trust me, YOU WILL!

#8 – Do What You’re Meant To : LIVE a Little (or a LOT) !

Not everyone is made for the same 9-6 job or other stereotypes like getting married and having kids, but there’s no doubt that every creative cell in your body deserves to be fuelled. No matter who you are!

Remember from the Trolls movie, how the characters withered away, when they weren’t allowed to dance or sing? That’s precisely how we humans are, too. Just not as cute.

Troll movie, colorful, rainbow, animation, cute, dance, sing,

Surprised this even makes it to the list? It’s true. The more spiritual you become, the more creative and in touch with your ‘inner child’ you will be. and vice versa.

Also, as the analogy goes – as food is to the body, creativity is to the soul. You need to feed yourself regularly, generously!

#9 – Healing

There are a number of wondrous healing techniques – using crystals, practising Reiki, Pranik healing, etc. Though not meditation, these can also ‘up’ your spiritual game and might even become a profession for some. Explore them, give the practices a chance, you might be surprised!

Crystals, Stones, Healing, Mystic, Not Meditation, Spirituality

NOTE: For Indians interested in Reiki, the Reiki Healing Foundation offers free Reiki Level 1 classes every month, for the masses in Delhi, India. I have personally attended the session too, and learned a lot! Would definitely encourage that those that are in the area and can attend, should.

#10 – Spiritual Cleanse

This is an abundant and magnificent topic of its own. Given how exhaustive this list has already become, my post on my favourite cleansing practices will have to find its own space and time! Stay tuned.

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Will Marriage Impact Your Spiritual Growth?

Should you get married if you are on the spiritual path? What is the role of marriage in our spiritual journey? Is it necessary to have a partner?

It is a widespread (thankfully, now becoming corrected) notion that spirituality equals renouncing everything and becoming a monk. Should someone that’s trying to transcend the world still buy Nike shoes and go on expensive dinners? Is it okay for spiritual people to devote time to their marriage?

Truth is, spirituality isn’t about resisting your life, it’s about transcending it.

How? Let’s look at a simple example – eating chips or popcorn. Most of us grab a handful and stuff our faces with the crispy goodness, not even chewing properly. Now, if you were to look at a video of yourself eating popcorn at the movies, you might be taken aback and cringe.

Popcorn, Binge, Movie, Eat, Overeat

Conscious living is pretty much that – watching yourself like a movie, as often as you can. The behaviours you don’t like, when you see with your own eyes, will reduce and eventually stop, or transform into something better.

The desires you have, the materialism you seek must also be transcended – at your own pace.

What about marriage – can we transcend our life with a partner by our side?

With the Mirror Technique, we can.

Self-awareness would not have been possible, we would not be able to see our true nature, had it not been for others around us. We are able to reflect on our behaviour, our mistakes, our grudges and resentments, only because people give us that opportunity.

Board, Flower, Excuse Me, Sorry, I Beg Your Pardon, Apologize, Forgiveness

Yes, loving relations are the sign of a healthy and happy life, but they are not available to all of us, for the simple fact that we are yet to apply the mirror technique.

The mirror technique simply means, stop seeing the other person’s actions and instead start seeing your reactions. What arises within you whenever they act…..

Anger?
Jealousy?
Insecurity?

In this way, you can use every interaction with another person as an opportunity to meet yourself with greater depth.

And that’s when real healing begins.

Marriage, Union, Yog, Couples Yoga, Couples Meditation

How can you know your ability to forgive if someone doesn’t hurt you?

How can you overcome your jealousy if you didn’t even experience it, if you didn’t share that kind of intimacy in the first place?

Resistance is delaying, preventing yourself from experiencing the darkest side of your being. And just like music – the deeper you can sing on the scale, the higher you’ll be able to hit on the octave too. And so is life – you cannot know your light, until you face your darkness.

And what better a way, than with a partner who you’ve committed to live with, till death do you part?

If you don’t believe me, Justin Timberlake has written an entire song about it to explain this! Check it out.

Twin Flames, Justin Timberlake, Mirror, Song
Image Source : iMDB

This person will push your buttons at every step of the way – right from conflicts over room temperatures and changing baby diapers at midnight, to who-said-what’s and then some…

As a matter of fact, they will really help you apply all kinds of spiritual techniques.

Thanks to all the ups and downs, you’ll remember God a lot more. I mean how often do you remember God when life’s smooth?

You’ll learn to surrender when your partner is stubborn.

You’ll learn the art of forgiveness and to let go of your resentment, when your partner meses up.

And you’ll learn to co-create and co-habitat, gracefully mastering detachment whilst remaining compassionate, thus overriding your ego.

And you’ll learn the truest form of unconditional love and devotion, when you fall in love with your partner and children, each time in a greater capacity.

Sunset, Family, Game, Silhouette, Set, Marriage, Happy, Love

Another Spiritual Angle of Marriage

To understand this better, let me quote Sadhguru, as he explains in his mystical book, Adiyogi.

There was a difference between her [Parvati] and the sages; she was in love with him [Shiva] and the sages were in love with what he had [mastery over Self]. Because of her level of perception and receptivity, Shiva took her directly to the peak of attainment [Enlightenment through love].

Whether we go hunting for Enlightenment in a cave, or in the solitude of a room at home, the end-goal is attainable. Because it isn’t the outside dynamics that matter; it all comes down to one thing – the inner thirst for this quest.

Ofcourse, to each their own, but the kind of lives we’ve signed up for don’t exactly permit the kind of extremism anymore, which sages and monks once practised.

We’ve got to find our peace here, and now.

Quotes, Carpe Diem, Word, Diem, Inspiration, Saying
Balancing marriage whilst on a spiritual pursuit is like a double ‘challenge accepted’.

It’s about balancing the hermit and the materialistic sides in you. And at the same time, it is the best of both worlds. 🙂

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