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Susan Flint Rajkumar I have lived in India for over a decade, and have called many other parts of this world my home. I mingle with people of many different religions, skin colors, educational backgrounds, and life experiences. And I am happy to call them my friends. At age fifty, I decided to change the course of my life by taking one art class. Many things have changed, and how pleasing!

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Seven Ways to Stay Constant with God: How to Develop Spiritual Strength

Posted by ©Susan Flint Rajkumar, 2016. All rights reserved. on Monday, October 26, 2009 Under: The Spiritual Life

Spiritual strength and maturity come from developing good habits during our daily living. This may sound funny to you—it did to me—that we have a “spiritual routine” during the day. The constant observance of our creator, our “unseen” helpers and guides or whomever you call on for divine guidance, cause a change in us. Depending on your source of inspiration in which you connect, will either result in developing spiritual weakness or spiritual strength.

Depending on which spiritual connection you make will either give you spiritual strength or take it away.

Cultivating spiritual awareness without the right divine source or protection is not kid's play. I have my own personal experiences in observing demonic possession, being at the receiving end of evil curses and satanic hexes. No, I'm not crying about it. I know what I experienced. I'm rather happy to pass this knowledge on to you, so that you don't make the same mistakes.

I was not involved in any unusual religions or cults. I went to university with interesting people who were practicing something, I really don't want to name it, because as we know, religion can be used for the Good or for evil. Waldis Jirgens, retired computer scientist and a man of fascinating interests, offers a no-nonsense course of action when determining whether your source of inspiration or religious institution is for you:
If you feel that the spiritual or religious meetings that you attend are taking on the following tone:

  • the spiritual leader is looking for fame, money, or personal power

  • charging exorbitant sums of money

  • are making prophesies that are not correct

  •  spreading hate or coercion

  •  not telling the truth

  • threatening or asking people to kill someone or something

  • isn't using nice humor or jokes

  • doesn't practice his or her own sermons

I know that this seems a little much, but as with today's climate, we have seen extremism rise in many religious fields. I don't think that I'm off the mark. It is important to develop an awareness that creates filters for the above criteria.

1. Four mental attitudes to have when you are meeting with a spiritual group or a religious organization:

  • Don't be so credulous: If somebody makes you feel good by smiles and good humor, performing good deeds, it does not mean that they always tell the truth or have your best interests in mind. This is how cults find followers.

  • Use your voice--speak up--expose people and spirits, who try to entrap you and/or others.

  • If you disagree with the teaching of "your religious community," leave it. You don't want to be a hypocrite.

  • If you don't have a good feeling about the religious leader's intentions or the entity or God to whom they pray, find another place for worship/source of spiritual nourishment.

  • Don't give up.

Our family came very close to joining the "church" that took 900+ people to Guyana. They met their demise with a cyanide-laced drink. We had attended a few Sunday services. My parents spoke to the leader and fortunately were given the right divine guidance and protection.They were no gullible or trusting in any way. There were smart people in this group, intellectuals. My classmates and I lost a number of our fellow classmates and their families, some of them were neighbors. This was an impactful lesson for me. It took me forty-something years to find my religious niche.

2. Develop a regular prayer/meditation habit. Staying constant with your God-source is like exercising a muscle. This is what development is. We become stronger and wiser through lessons, that all people and situations to whom we come into contact are our teachers and our exams.

What is spiritual strength? Physical strength and conditioning coach Karsten Jensen defines spiritual strength as, 

Inner strength caused by beliefs about God/The Creator/Life that are enabling or disabling you to live your purpose/a life of fulfillment.” We can already be living a fulfilling life, but when we hone in on our spiritual/religious practice a little more, life gets sweeter.

Pray/Contemplate/Reflect at least two times a day. Don't know how to pray? I didn't until 2008—at least—I didn't know how to formally pray. A prayer opens up a dialog with God, with an open heart, to communicate with God or saints, or with your guides, helpers, and with the divine realm, the all-knowing information of the universe. It usually has a formal beginning. For example, “I'd like to ask for the divine connection,” or “Dear God,” or “Please Jesus,” or “Dear Heavenly Father,” or “Oh Great Healing Spirit.” Other faiths have specific rites, such as the Muslim religion reciting “The Opening” while in a specific body posture. Prayer is practiced in many different ways, some religions being very methodical about it. Sometimes to pray means to sit quietly (after asking for your divine inspiration) in an open posture and feel the healing spirit of God come inside of you or the practice of Yoga Nidra brings your body into complete stillness.

Find a quiet location for your prayer.
 Of course, if you live in a city or in New Delhi, India or Beijing, China, where the sound is part of your day, then make that become part of your prayer.

Set aside a specific time for prayer, and be firm with your schedule.
 There may be forces that have an investment in keeping you from receiving spiritual food and guidance, so be aware of that too: that the phone will ring just as you sit down to pray; the doorbell; the neighbor starts up his lawnmower; your spouse starts to get romantic;

Be strict with your prayer time, because this is your moment, this is your appointment with God.
 An early morning prayer will give you time to start your day off with a lot of energy and spiritual power. Bedtime prayer will allow you to review your day, and to pray for people and situations at work or for people with whom you interacted. Of course, you may pray at any time.

Often I talk to God while I am busy in the middle of the day. “I'm with you, God,” I say. Or with my special guide, I say “Thank You for all of the good.”
God knows what your intentions are, but it is also important to follow through with the good deeds. Sometimes the mind likes to cling to old habits, beliefs, and fears, but when you show good intention, God knows what you are working with. If you keep your prayer requests positive, you may have great results.

A prayer request such as, “And I pray for Aunt Dillie, who has cancer...” does not help Aunt Dillie. It implies that the cancer is hers to keep. By asking for your auntie in a negative way, we cause a “staying pattern” which keeps us all from the healing possibilities, because you mentioned that the cancer is Aunt Dillie's.

Just ask for Aunt Dillie's “complete healing in body and soul;” God and his helpers know what Aunt Dillie's struggle is. You may notice a sense of peace and calm come inside once you begin a regular prayer practice. Your day might become less complex. Work might become more enjoyable. Your spouse might seem even sweeter. 

Your realm of possibility opens up with prayer, and your heart's wishes will also come true.

Spiritual strength is about having beautiful life experiences that cannot be explained with words, and feeling humbled by its power and teachings. Spiritual strength is having a confidence in knowing that you are on the right path and that you are moving in the right direction. Spiritual strength is about being healthy in body, mind, and soul.

3. Start observing your thoughts about the people around you. 
Look for God inside of your neighbors; don't judge them when you see something that may not look like God. Most of us have done something equally wrong, if not worse through inaction (laziness,) unconscious negative thoughts, or focusing on pain, gossip, death, fear, poverty, sadness, self-indulgence, self-pity, and the list goes on. I speak for myself. While I was thinking that I had a lot of “Good” inside of me, I focused on many of the above thoughts. As a spiritual teacher once told me,

Notice what people have to “go through” [or deal with] when you are around.”

This one-line statement gave me such profound insight. It had never occurred to me, that self-serving beliefs and thoughts were not shared by the people I was around—that these thoughts did not come from God—and that I was affecting people in a negative way. The themes that I mention above do not come from the good and are designed to throw us off—disrupt our order with life and with God. Notice that when you mention your neighbors in your prayers in a positive light (ie. “and I ask for the Jones' well-being, that their children do well in school,”) situations changes without having to “talk” about issues that might cause discomfort and pain.

4. Read your sacred scripture at least once a day. 
This doesn't have to be a big undertaking, like reading Matthew, Mark, and Luke, or the Ahavah book of the Torah. I like to use my sacred books, aside from systematically reading them cover to cover, as an oracle. I will quietly hold the book in my hands for a brief moment, and ask God and my special guide, “What do I need to learn for today?” When I open the book, the first paragraph that catches my eye is the one chosen for me. It works every time.

Other sacred text, for example, in 
Vasistha's Yoga, by Swami Venkatesananda, recommends that one takes in a little of the text at a time, and probably not in random order. For example,

in Vairagya Prakaranam, (chapter on dispassion) imparts to one knowledge of the true nature of life in this world. It's careful study purifies the heart.”

When you are careful and deliberate about your learning, you begin to become vigilant for the reference back to quote you read in the morning; then you appreciate how “coincidence,” or similarities or text examples bring about good lessons if you recognize them, and thus, observe healthy changes in life.

5. Reduce the distractions (TV, Radio, the Internet, newspaper) that make you “blank out” for unknown periods of time, all the while it is giving you questionable messages. 
A number of years ago, I had fallen into a deep music hole. I listened to a top 10 American pop music radio channel, with crazy lyrics and all. I did pay attention to the lyrics and changed the channel when I heard songs that did not reinforce happiness. This may seem like nothing to you. Most of my life I've done my best to listen to only instrumental music, because I needed peace.

One night, desperate for a change in my life, I asked with all my heart, “Please God, remove the distractions” and I went to sleep.

The next morning I got up and turned on my stereo. It didn't work. After breakfast, I went down to my car to drive to work and noticed that someone had entered my locked car and stolen my car stereo, and a few other items. Hmmm...maybe God really wanted to stress the point. I hadn't been so interested in pop music; I had fallen into an addiction with the need for manufactured sound or information. The same applies to the television, with the internet, and news media. Of addiction to media, in an article in Psychology Today
Bernard J. Luskin, Ed.D.,LMFT, writes, 

ecent studies now validate the reality of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). IAD can cause tremors, shivers, nausea and anxiety in some addicts. Many professionals now consider IAD analogous tosubstance abuse. They include it among other pathological behaviors such as gambling and eating disorders."

When you reduce these activities, you reduce the manufactured stimuli. This causes a pause or silence in the brain. A reduction of brain stimulation. This silence or gap of intellectual input gives rise to new opportunities to deepen your relationship with God, family, friends, and neighbors. You also don't have to take in the negative messages or images that these media transmit. If you feel that you have a concern with this kind of addiction, please consult a professional.

6. Spend more time with your family and friends. 
Some of my best lifetime experiences were with my family. Likewise, some of my worst experiences were also with my family. Just let that second sentence go, and give all of those memories back to God, who will take care of them for you. God only wants you to be happy. God wants you to enjoy the good things in life, especially happy times with your people, and great health.
According to the Mayo Clinic website blog on the benefits of friends and family relationships, good friendships,

Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.”

I just returned from a visit to North America, and I loved being with my family. In fact, I didn't spare much time for friends, since it had been so long since I had seen my family. My family had asked me what I wanted to “do” during my visit. “I just want to sit and do nothing. I don't want to drive very far. I want to be in nature.” And that's what we did; we mostly sat; we took nature walks; we cooked together or we ate excessive amounts of ice cream. :-) Sure, “things” come up, but when you are focused on being with God while you are with your family, you are protected. I understand that family can be like a litmus test to show you your spiritual growth. You may have some thoughts that will try to ruin your experience because maybe that is what the behavioral pattern has been for you in the past. Let it go and ask your divine presence, God, to please speak for you until you know what to say. Give this time with your family the attention and love that it deserves. When your heart opens up to your loved ones this way, new patterns and thoughts are sent from God. From these new thoughts, you can build the foundation to healthier relationships.

7. Go outside as much as possible. 
Let the sunshine give your light-sensitive pineal gland—a hormone regulating gland in the endocrine system—natural sun rays. Take your meals outside; eat in the park; make your own lunch and have a picnic; walk with your beloved at sunset.

The sun can help brain function, which can improve the nervous system, hormonal regulation, muscle function, immune health, and carries many other benefits,”
According to Phil Maffetone, Ed, in his article Sunlight: Good for the Eyes as Well as the Brain.Make a habit of taking in morning or evening sun as often as possible.You will receive the benefits of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a global public-health problem. 
Notice the seasons, sounds, sights, sounds, and the feel of the breeze, the wind, smell your surroundings. God designed you to receive pleasure through your senses. Nature is pleasing.

Developing a spiritual routine means that you maintain a vigilant focus on these seven points daily. 

You observe your thoughts and words. Even things that might have “bothered” you in the past will become non-issue, or not a problem. These are only a few simple tools. With practice, you will notice how great life is, even sweeter than you already know; you will see how much more depth there is inside of you than you ever knew before.

This is the God connection that I speak of, where you begin to notice who is really living inside of your body, and how it “out-pictures” in 3 dimensional reality.

After all, because your job is to store and practice as much God as possible while you are here on Earth—your body needs maintenance and exercise. Action causes the fun to begin, lessons are learned. Humility comes with spiritual maturity.

We don't have to make loud announcements about our small steps forward, our “breakthroughs.”

This is what brings about spiritual strength, that we rely on our Divine power or inspiration to understand how we interact with life and living things during our short stay on this beautiful planet Earth. We use these tools to exercise our relationships, which in turn gives us the conditioning, the stamina, confidence, and strength to ask for and receive God's blessings, good health and wisdom. Take some time to implement your days little by little. If you have a great need for change, then make a list which will assist you. Know that you might find some obstacles along the way, but keep your faith and ask for the divine guidance. I'm sure you'll find it! 

In : The Spiritual Life 

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©Susan Flint Rajkumar 2018 All rights reserved.  

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