How I Define Secular Spiritual Growth

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I define spiritual growth in a couple of ways.

One is in finding meaning in unfortunate circumstances.

For example, I was married to an angry woman. She managed to find something to be angry about almost every day. I could have felt sorry for myself. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to learn how to be calm around angry people.

When she would start yelling, I would take a deep breath and remind myself that it was her problem and not mine. While breathing deeply and slowly, I would do a simple mindfulness practice while I listened to her. When she calmed down, I would explain my side of the issue and she would express remorse.

Once we separated, a couple of people commented on how much more relaxed I was than before I got married.

The second is cultivating spiritual qualities.

By which I mean attributes like generosity, kindness, compassion, equanimity, patience, gentleness, forbearance, etc.

There are meditation practices for cultivating kindness and compassion. I will write more about these later. You can cultivate gratitude by naming a number of things you are grateful for on a daily basis.

I have done a generosity practice where I offered a tip to anyone who provided me a service everyday for a month. This included the guy behind the desk at the gas station or the guy at McDonald’s.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

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