Now, more than ever, we face one of the most challenging periods in our lives. Many people are having or fear facing a period when many things can go wrong quite quickly and easily.
Unfortunately, these are also when spiritual self-improvement can take a back seat as we can get overwhelmed with too many things. Sure, some of us will use this opportunity to go deeper spiritually, but the chaos and challenging times usually take too much of a toll on our attention.
And so, more often than not, things begin to deteriorate on many fronts. We start getting into a downward spiral, a vicious cycle where things start getting worse progressively.
Not all downward spirals need to be severe or earth-shattering. Some or even most can be the slow degradation variety and can also be in a particular facet or aspect of our lives.
The problem is that we don’t realize we’re in a downward spiral until things have gotten terrible. We are unlikely to take corrective action until we see severe outcomes.
For instance …. we may find we’ve been eating unhealthy and skipping exercise over many months. Our relationships may be strained for a long time and at the point of breaking. Our finances may be slowly deteriorating as the savings begin to go down. Our jobs may feel stale and not motivating enough. None of these have to necessarily happen simultaneously, but they certainly can in isolation.
Or, the most popular one for those pursuing self-improvement – our interest, motivation and progress on spirituality and higher pursuits is waning continuously, and we're hitting new lows every now and then.
So, how do we break out of such periods of downward spirals in our lives?
A healthy and special dose of spirituality is the only real way to motivate our physical, mental and emotional selves to get out of the rut.
Self-awareness and introspection are at the start of our recovery.
Now that you're reading this article, you're already self-aware and self-driven. You’d like to take action to improve things. And you'll know that you will need to be alert in spotting the subtlest of downward spirals in any aspect of your life. And then, arrest the negative impact as soon as it begins to make a noticeable impact. This introspection helps quickly determine a plan of action to push back against the negative voices and forces moving us downward.
One of the best-recommended healthy introspection practices is writing down our thoughts, actions, plans, and many other things into a personal diary or an online note-taking app. This can be a regular exercise in your life, even when you're not going through a bad phase. Self-awareness is reinforced in our attention when we write down what we'd like to change about our lives.
In fact, the Sahaja recommendation is to maintain multiple diaries, for example, one for your personal spiritual ascent, another about things that you want to achieve at your work or personal projects.
Hard work and consistency are essential.
To get out of a difficult phase, you will prepare for several weeks to months of sustained hard work. The two primary focus areas will be to keep your attention sharp and focused on the problem and plan for a powerful meditation routine that works on the core of your being. Strengthening your spiritual core radiates energy to the other aspects of your inner self – your physical, cognitive and emotional self.
Here’s how the hard work on the meditation routine can look like –
- Twice or thrice a day meditation
- Attending at least a couple of group meditation sessions each week
- Use of the earth and water elements daily, such as outdoor meditation and regular foot soaking
- A focus on changing your disposition to one filled with humility and surrender to the powerful all-pervading energy and allowing it to work
Hard work needs to be combined with consistency with an uncompromising stance towards not allowing negativity to push you back to the old ways. In fact, even before planning any sort of routine, a firm commitment and non-negotiable resolve are required that this routine will get the highest priority.
Everything else must take secondary priority, at least until you get over the challenging phase.
Your meditation and self-improvement activities must be on your schedule or calendar.
Some of us live with a formal schedule and calendar, while others have a relatively flexible schedule. One key element of success in breaking out of a negative spiral is to schedule specific times for your meditation sessions and even introspection time when you jot things down in your diary or note-taking tool.
If it’s not on your calendar for a specific day and specific time, it’s probably not going to get done. That’s the truth you should start with. Like note taking, assigning a particular time and day reinforces the importance of doing something in our attention, and we're more likely to get it done.
In fact, planning your week as a whole might work even better for many people. Planning is one way of focusing on your problem and the solutions instead of accepting the status quo.
At the beginning of each week, reviewing the week’s plan helps reinforce the commitment and each day, trying to plan the next day helps stick to your schedule.
Destroying the guilt
When things start going bad, the sense of guilt of being unable to do the right thing gets stronger. This can also make us keep repeating our mistakes. At some point, we start giving up doing anything about it, but instead, choose to ruminate and accept our inadequacies.
There’s a problem with this at the spiritual level that’s associated with our chakras. One specific chakra, the 5th chakra (Vishuddhi), and on the left side gets damaged due to these feelings of guilt and makes things worse for us.
The correct attitude is to make a quick note of our problems, failings and inadequacies but just forget them by making a firm resolve to avoid repeating them. In other words, instead of accumulating guilt within us and having a lot of lethargy and inaction, we switch to brushing it off and addressing them with fierce energy, effort and optimism. This not only helps to avoid guilt accumulation but move towards a solution to our problems.
A few things can help push us out of the lethargy, guilt and brooding – bouts of intense physical or mental activity, collective meditation, being in the company of like-minded, positive people and taking inspiration from something or someone. Get over the bad patch or incident and move on, without letting it push you further and deeper into the negative spiral.
You may have to dismiss your negative instincts and fight for positivity several times before you get out of the challenging situation or bad patch in your life. Each time, it gets a little bit easier if you don’t beat yourself up over it. At the same time, you should also be careful not to keep repeating the mistake. Your resolve must be firm.
And yes, there are special techniques in Sahaja meditation to deal with the troubled Left Vishuddhi chakra that can give a significant boost to your recovery.
Planning for the resurgence and pushback from negativity
The negative factors that cause the downward spiral and deterioration are always working and active. Yet, it is tough to keep up the positive attempts from us to resist them. Or in other words, we only work part-time on positivity and self-improvement, but negativity is working full time against us in the opposite direction.
We need a plan for emerging out of difficult situations when negativity is winning at times in this battle of positivity vs. negativity. And yes, it is going to win at times, we should be fully prepared for that. We can unleash a massive dose of positivity and positive efforts to overcome it.
For instance, if our schedule gets thrown out of order and we find ourselves missing our exercise, meditation and healthy eating, we need a plan by which we dedicate a few days to get back on track, like eating very few or no carbs at all for a week. If we're having financial troubles attributed to overspending, a period of austerity will be good for us. Or if our relationships are getting strained, it might just help us to be the one to forgive and move on.
Having no plan or worse, not even being aware of the disruption, will simply make things worse overall in our lives, and we’ll keep moving downward in the spiral.
From a spiritual standpoint, unleashing many clearing activities in our subtle energy system will help flush out the obstacles and negatives. We could try out those clearing techniques we've always heard about but never had the time to try out. There are stories of some meditators who suddenly decided that enough was enough and decided that they would wake up at 5 am for the next month to do their meditation daily to get their lives back on track. Early morning meditation has some miraculous benefits. If you can get to it, of course.
Stop negotiating with the negative inner voices.
The murmuring, negative voices within us manifest in many ways. At times, they’ll tell us that we’re doing fine and there’s no need to be so stringent about our recovery and improvement schedule and activities. At other times, they'll tell us that we deserve some reward and force us into indulgences. Then they'll tell us that it's okay to make small compromises – after all, no one is perfect, right?
These voices need to be dealt with very firmly – at first, we simply say, "No I can't do it" to our temptations. As we grow stronger through our recovery, we start saying "No, I WON’T" and refuse to compromise with them.
Often, if we let those difficult moments of weakness simply pass by without giving in, we emerge much stronger. Sahaja helps in doing this in a big way when we activate our witness state. This state is incidentally the same higher state of consciousness that we try to reach during our meditation. It makes us rise above everything mundane. And so, in our testing moments and when faced with adversity, if we can take a few moments to let our attention rise higher into this witness state, we get the strength to watch it and let it go without reacting to it or getting involved.
You’ll be surprised how much easier it will be to deal with your temptations and weaknesses when you simply tell yourself that you’re a spiritual being and should therefore go higher. More prolonged and more frequent meditation helps us practice getting into this powerful state more often and quickly.
Finding the center of gravity within us
Spiritually, we have a point of balance within us as well as an axis of balance. Our first chakra or Mooladhara, the point of balance within us, gives us the wisdom and strength to stick to only doing what is good for us. The balance axis is the central energy channel that keeps us from excesses of any kind – physical, mental or emotional.
More meditation and collective meditation help us find and stay close to our center of balance and gravity. This is what keeps us sane and actively seeking self-improvement. The other powerful technique for finding our balance and keeping it is to seek the earth element often – this means we do our meditation sitting on the ground, outdoors as much as possible. Being with nature and greenery and using the natural elements can also clear our Mooladhara chakra resulting in better balance.
During difficult times, our goal must be to continually stay closer to our center of gravity and find those powers within us to get us out of these situations.
Give yourself time, be patient, introspect and make your meditation routine at the center of your life. Be firm not to negotiate with those negative voices and adopt the witness state in the times of adversity. Lots of collective meditation and use of natural elements will also help. But above all, give your undivided focus in getting out the rut, give everything else lower priority.
Sahaja tools that help overcome bad phases:
- Longer, more frequent meditations
- Collective meditation
- Clearing the Left Vishuddhi chakra
- Finding the powers of our Mooladhara chakra
- Developing the witness state