Each of us calls our journey something different. Some may say their journey is spiritual, others may prefer to call it a “personal journey.” Whatever you call it, it is uniquely yours. Sure, you can model your journey after another’s, but you are unique, so it will never match anything that ever was…or will be.
A Place Called Enlightenment
Some might call this the path to Enlightenment…and Enlightenment is a really great destination. But what is “enlightenment?” Moreover, what is enlightenment to you? That’s what really matters. It’s how you define enlightenment…not how others define it for you.
It would be good for you to understand exactly what the “enlightenment” you desire actually is. After all, you need to know where you want to go, if you are to chart the course to get there.
An Enlightened Experience
No matter the journey you’re on, physical, spiritual, or something else, the goal is essentially the same as all others — to experience something. More often than not, we don’t realize that what we are seeking to experience is not a “thing,” but rather a feeling. We desire to experience ourselves.
On any journey there is an opportunity to know ourselves. To do this we must come to recognize the feelings we feel and how we experience those feelings. If we want to be the driver of our lives, we must explore what we want from our feelings, and we must seek out the wisdom those feelings reveal. Often we simply experience the feelings which are inspired by the variety of “chance” circumstances and situations we encounter in a given day. They can be good or bad, or somewhere in between.
When we allow circumstance to dictate our feelings and emotions we remain reactive in our lives. But we can choose the feelings and emotions we prefer. We can conjure the experience of those emotions without a circumstance or situation to stimulate them.
Realizing this, and then practicing it, cultivates emotional intelligence. Nurturing emotional intelligence not only helps you become more consciously aware of your life and its direction, emotional intelligence is tied to your physical body, as well. It plays a role in how your body responds to stress.
Emotional intelligence is tied to cortisol levels and blood pressure. So even if you don’t see yourself on the path of enlightenment, if you’re hoping for stress-relief, or even just stress-management, cultivating emotional intelligence is simple and free. PLEASE NOTE: I said it’s “simple,” it’s definitely not easy. But it is most certainly worth it.
OK, But How?
There are a variety of techniques that people can use to cultivate emotional intelligence. Which ones are best is subjective, but I am actually working on trying to figure this out. For now, seek out activities that help you tune out worldly distractions and nurture your focus. Learn to turn your attention inward and notice how you feel. Ask yourself how your feelings feel physically as well as emotionally, and ask yourself how you would rather feel. Try and conjure the emotion without a physical stimulus. Just feel it.
Use meditation, mindfulness practices, and whatever techniques you can get your hands on that will help you turn your full attention inward. Journal your thoughts without judgement and strive to be objective. And most importantly, never stop.